Accepting the Challenge
What a marvelous manifestation of the Church is present here in this place at this very moment! With Cardinal Bevilacqua, Bishops and priests, deacons, Religious, seminarians, the laity of our Church, young and old, families, parents, children, students, single persons—all united with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, Pastor of the universal Church, but above all united with Jesus Christ, the eternal Shepherd of the flock, truly present in our midst through the power of His word and, in particular, in the Eucharist. We likewise acknowledge here the spiritual presence of those who unite their sufferings with our prayer. We thank our contemplative nuns for their prayerful support.
Here from Christ’s presence there radiates the power that calls us all to conversion, to greater consistency and to integrity of life. We remember the words of the Apostle John regarding the self-righteous: "If we say, ‘We are without sin; we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.... If we say, ‘We have not sinned,’ we make [God] a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 Jn 1:8, 10). From the personal conversion that the Eucharist makes possible, and with the peace that takes possession of our hearts, we will strive to be peacemakers in our communities, our neighborhoods, our cities, including this great city of Philadelphia. The Eucharist calls us to be apostles of justice and charity, of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. It calls us to oppose violence and hatred, and every violation of human life and human dignity.
Dear People of God: as we move toward the conclusion next month of the Year of the Eucharist, we take this opportunity to renew our faith in the person of Jesus Christ. We renew our acceptance of His word—even if it is difficult to understand fully—because it is the word of the Son of God. In particular we accept His teaching when He tells us: "...the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." We heard in the Gospel of Saint John that, as a result of these words "many of his disciples ... no longer walked with him." And yet Jesus did not change his statement, but rather made the acceptance of it a condition for his disciples to remain in His company. He said to the Twelve: "Do you also want to go away." Today, dear friends, our response to Jesus is the response of Peter who says: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." This acceptance of Jesus and His Eucharistic presence is essential to our holy Catholic faith.
This faith requires an acceptance also of the challenge of the Eucharist, which is to commit ourselves to our brothers and sisters, in their needs, in their problems, in their joys and anxieties. Our acceptance of Jesus in the Eucharist leads us to renew our solidarity with all human beings everywhere: in the devastated regions of our country, in the Middle East, in the Land of Jesus, in Iraq, in the continent of Africa and everywhere else where people suffer in the deserts of poverty, hunger and thirst, abandonment, loneliness and destroyed love. In particular, we renew our solidarity with those who are defenseless and most vulnerable, especially the unborn. This is where the Eucharist leads us: from prayer to action. And so we are resolved to continue both. In our Eucharistic celebrations and our adoration of the Blessed Sacrament we will be empowered for Christian living and for service to all those who share humanity with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and with us His brothers and sisters.
The son of Stato lives.