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Posted in Homilies FT, Liturgical life, Patriarch, Slide, Solemnity

Patriarch Twal’s homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and his Golden Jubilee of Priestly Ordination

Patriarch Twal’s homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and his Golden Jubilee of Priestly Ordination


JERUSALEM- On Thursday, May 26, 2016, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and Thanksgiving Mass celebrated  in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, His Beatitude Fouad Twal delivered a homily in which he gave thanks to God for his 50 years of priesthood.


Golden Jubilee of Priestly Ordination

Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, May 26, 2016

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you for coming in great numbers to our celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in this holy place, a few meters away from where our Savior offered his body and shed his blood in the ultimate sacrifice for all our sins.

The feast of Corpus Christi is inseparable from the Mass of the Last Supper, celebrated here in front of the empty tomb, during which we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist. On the evening of Holy Thursday, we recall the mystery of Christ who offered himself to us in the broken bread and the wine poured.  And today, on the feast of Corpus Christi, this same mystery is offered to us for adoration and meditation.

The Blessed Sacrament we carry in procession here around the aedicule and many other processions in parishes of towns, villages and cities, remind us of the risen Christ walking in our midst.  He is with us, and leads us towards the Kingdom of heaven: Christus Vincit Christus regnat.

During the Mass of Holy Thursday, we recall how in the Eucharist, the gifts of the earth – bread and wine are transubstantiated, which transforms our lives.  In being “all filled” (Lk 9:17) of the Body of Christ, we are one body and thus, we initiate the transformation of our communities and our world, that are unable to find or achieve peace … The transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is the gift that Christ has made of himself, the gift of a love stronger than death, a divine love that transfigures the flesh and raises the dead.

The expression “take communion” is beautiful and very powerful.  It makes us return to communion with the Lord himself and with men, in the words of St. Paul: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we, though many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”(1 Cor 10: 16-17)

The bodily food taken in by our body contributes to its growth, while in the Eucharist, the food taken in equates to communion that makes us members of the same Mystical Body, a communion makes us Church.

Therefore, the Eucharist, while uniting us with Christ, also opens us to others and makes us members with one another.  Eucharistic communion unites me with the person at my side, with the person I meet on the street, and also with my brothers and sisters around the world.   As we follow Christ who gave Himself to us, the Lord specifically asks us to give ourselves as food for the multitude:  Give them something to eat yourselves(Lk 9:13).

Faced with the needs of the hungry crowd, the disciples offer a solution, to send the crowd away and that, everyone thinks of oneself!  How often do we, Christians, have had this temptation to turn away people who knock at our door .

The solution offered by Jesus goes in another direction: “Give them something to eat”[1]. And even when we have nothing to offer, we ourselves are hungry with just “five loaves and two fish” to share, but with heartfelt disposition and faith in God can do miracles.  He makes our good intentions and acts of faith grow to infinity:  “all were satisfied” (Luke 9: 17)

Recognizing Jesus in the Sacred Host is acknowledging the suffering of a brother, in those who are hungry and thirsty, the stranger, the naked, sick, the homeless, imprisoned or even those forced to live in refugee camps.  To receive communion during Mass is to enter into communion with all who are absent and far away, with the obscured and invisible, with all the Saints in heaven united in the one Body of Christ.

The celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi invites us to reflect on our responsibility in building a caring, just and familial society.  Like the disciples, we are tempted to dismiss the crowd, to say to the needy to go on their own and provide for themselves.   In our particular time, when globalization makes us more dependent upon each other, in our time when the Church is target of attacks, political persecution and religious extremism, Corpus Christi must make us one body, one Church strengthened by faith in God and solidarity among ourselves.

The Gospel aspires and works always for the unity of the human family that has been torn apart.  A unit not imposed from outside by economic or social interests but expected to rise from good will and our responsibility for each other because we recognize ourselves as members of the same body.  We have learned and we are continually learning, that sharing love and mercy is the path of true justice.

To overcome violence and the devastating situation that the Middle East has been plunged into, we must follow the path opened by Christ himself:  openness, fidelity and courage and at the same time humility, mercy and reconciliation.  Our mission in the Holy Land must lead to a patient and humble understanding, like the grain of wheat that dies to give life: a death that may be sudden or slow in small doses!

Our mission is to be nourished by the fullness of our faith that moves mountains with the gentle power of God. This is how God continues to renew humanity, history and the world through this series of transformations of which the Eucharist is the sacrament.

The Church of Jerusalem, as I have often said, has two inseparable dimensions: it is a Church of Calvary and a Church of the Resurrection.  The stairs going up to Calvary are steep and difficult as we experience; but every step is a step of hope that brings us closer to the joy of the Resurrection.  Together, we move forward, and after this long pilgrimage, Christ himself awaits us, to welcome us.

With all of you, dear friends, I give thanks to God for the gift of priesthood, received 50 years ago. I now come to the end of my mandate.  I can humbly say that the mission entrusted to me is fulfilled, and I now commend my future in God’s hands.  I give thanks for all the years in direct service of the Holy Father and the Mother Church of Jerusalem.

I give thanks for all the faithful and valuable friendships interwoven here in the Holy Land and also around the world.  I sincerely thank all my vicars, priests, pastors, men and women religious and the many, many friends far and wide, who accompanied and supported me during my mission.

I ask our Nuncio to convey to the Holy Father my filial love and expression of affiliation to the universal Church, and in gratitude for his paternal care for the Holy Land and for the Christians of the Middle East.

With the humility to know that we are mere servants, we trust that God’s love is stronger than evil, and that we will never be alone in our mission: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the world.” (Mt 28:20)

“Stay with us Lord, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over”(Lk 24:29). If the darkness of twilight seems to prevail, the light of the Resurrection heralds the dawn of new a day that never ends!  Amen.

+Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

[1] Pope Francis, Homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, May 30, 2013

Photos : ©LPJ / Thomas Charrière