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Pope Francis leads Corpus Christi procession through streets of Rome

Catholic World News - May 30, 2013

Pope Francis led the Corpus Christi procession through the streets of Rome on May 30, after celebrating Mass at the basilica of St. John Lateran and telling the congregation that the Eucharist should nourish an attitude of solidarity.

The feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated as a holy day in Rome, and Vatican offices were closed. The Pope celebrated an outdoor Mass on the plaza outside the Lateran basilica for a congregation of about 20,000 people, then joined in the candlelight procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major for Benediction.

The tradition of a Corpus Christi procession through Rome, with the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance on a platform truck, was revived by Blessed John Paul II and continued by Pope Benedict XVI. In a concession to their age, these last two Pontiffs had knelt before the Eucharist. But Pope Francis walked the route: a distance of about 1.5 miles.

In his homily for the Mass at the Lateran basilica, the Pope commented on the day’s reading from the Gospel of St. Luke, which recounted how Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. He remarked that the disciples had advised Jesus to send away the people who had come to hear him speak, because they did not have enough food for them. He said:

"Dismiss the crowd!". How many times do we Christians have this temptation! We do not care for the needs of others, dismissing them with a pitiful, "God help you." Jesus' solution, on the other hand, goes in another direction, a direction that surprises the disciples: "You give them something to eat.”

What the disciples had, the Pope observed, seemed pitifully inadequate. “But it is precisely those loaves and fishes that in God’s hands feed the whole crowd.” The lesson, Pope Francis said, is that the faithful can count on God’s help when they set out to help others.

“This evening we are the crowd of the Gospel, we also strive to follow Jesus to listen to Him, to enter into communion with Him in the Eucharist, to accompany Him and find why He accompanies us,” the Pope said. He urged the congregation to look upon their lives not as their own possessions, “but a gift to Him and to others.”

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