By Vatican News
The homily was brief and to the point. But, most of all, it was addressed directly to the children who were there to receive their First Holy Communion: all 242 of them.
Rakovsky is the most predominantly Catholic town in Bulgaria, and the children had come from every corner of what Pope Francis called this “Land of Roses”. He was referring to the fact that Bulgaria is the world’s number one producer of rose oil, an essence used to make perfumes since the middle ages.
“Jesus is alive and is here with us”, the Pope told the children, “That is why we can encounter him today in the Eucharist”. “We do not see him with our physical eyes, but we do see him with the eyes of faith”, he added.
The Pope commented on the “meaningful and beautiful sign” of the children’s white robes: “You are dressed for a celebration”, he told them. “We celebrate Jesus, who wants to remain always by our side”.
Turning to the Gospel reading and the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fish, Pope Francis reminded the children how the miracle began. “It started with one child who offered all he had”, he said. “Some miracles can only take place if we have a heart like yours: a heart capable of sharing, dreaming, feeling gratitude, trusting and respecting other people”. The Lord needs you, said the Pope, “because he wants to work the miracle of bringing His joy to many of your friends and family members”.
An identity card
Pope Francis described the celebration as “a day of communion among yourselves and with the whole Church”. That is because “the Eucharist expresses the communion that makes all of us brothers and sisters”, he said. “This is our identity card: God is our Father, Jesus is our brother, the Church is our family. All of us are brothers and sisters, and our law”, concluded the Pope”, “is love”.
Pope Francis clearly thought that this image of the “identity card” was the most important part of his message because, in a spontaneous back-and-forth dialogue with the children, he had them repeat it. Twice.