Corpus Christi: salvation in poverty

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, which evokes the Mass of the Lord’s Supper of Holy Thursday, was also celebrated in Jerusalem between Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th June 2019.

Known as Corpus Christi, the Solemnity was established in 1247 in the diocese of Liège (Belgium) to celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, to contrast the theory that the presence of Christ was only metaphorical. Later, in 1264, Pope Urban IV, living in Orvieto (Italy) where he had moved the pontifical court, extended this solemnity to the whole Church with the Transiturus bull. Liturgically, the solemnity is celebrated on the same day as the institution of the Eucharist, the Thursday of the second week after Pentecost. In some countries in the world where Thursday is not a holiday in the civil calendar, the solemnity is celebrated on the second Sunday after Pentecost.

In Jerusalem, the solemnity was celebrated from the First Solemn Vespers of the Wednesday afternoon, presided by the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarch, Mons. PierbattistaPizzaballa.The Apostolic Administrator made his solemn entrance into the Holy Sepulchre, as required by the Status Quo, and after the prayer of Vespers in front of the Edicule of the Empty Tomb, he took part in the daily procession of the Franciscan friars in the Basilica and the prayer ended with the recitation of Compline.

During the night, following the same liturgy as for Lent, the Office of the Vigil was celebrated in front of the Edicule in the Sepulchre, presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton. The Vigil brings us even closer to the real celebration which arrives a few hours later with the celebration of the Eucharistic Concelebration which follows the entrance and Lauds. At the end of the Celebration, the Apostolic Administrator led the procession with the Most Holy Sacrament which goes round the Edicule three times.

Speaking between the Lauds of the Thursday morning and the Eucharist Celebration, the liturgist of the Latin Patriarchate Father Pietro Feletrecalled the priests celebrating their 60, 50, 40, 25 years but also their first year in the priesthood. "You have received the priesthood,” said FatherFelet "as a gift to experience it in communion with a Church in movement and for the good of the people of God assigned to you. At a time of great changes, not everything has been easy, but the Sensus Fidei of the faithful has supported you to advance together."

During his homily, Mons. Pizzaballa referred to the actions of Jesus in the passage from the Gospel that had just been read (Luke 9, 11-17), specifying that Jesus does not find the easiest solution to emerge from problems. In situations of fragility and extreme need, he creates small communities to guarantee communion."Jesus does not save us with powerful and rich means but, on the contrary, with his becoming poor and one of the last, one of us,” emphasized the Apostolic Administrator, "salvation is such when it is carried inside, it makes us live our poverty, it makes us live it like riches." God saves through poverty, he concluded, “because it is in it that real richness shines, not with things,   means or possibilities, but the reciprocal gift of the self.”

Giovanni Malaspina