Vatican City, 1 February 2016 (VIS) – Yesterday, 31 January, with the Holy Mass presided by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, the pontifical legate closed the 51st International Eucharistic Council, which began on 24 January in Cebu, Philippines, on the theme "Christ in you, our hope of glory: the Eucharist, source and goal of the Church's mission".
Following the Eucharistic celebration, a video message from Pope Francis was broadcast, in which he emphasises that the theme of the Congress "reminds us that the risen Jesus always lives and is present in His Church, above all in the Eucharist, the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. Christ’s presence among us is not only a consolation, but also a promise and a summons. It is a promise that everlasting joy and peace will one day be ours in the fullness of his Kingdom. But it is also a summons to go forth, as missionaries, to bring the message of the Father’s tenderness, forgiveness and mercy to every man, woman and child".
The Holy Father invites reflection on two gestures of Jesus at the Last Supper: table fellowship and the washing of feet. With regard to the former, he recalls how important it was for Jesus to share meals with his disciples, but also, and especially, with sinners and the outcast. "Sitting at the table, Jesus was able to listen to others, to hear their stories, to appreciate their hopes and aspirations, and to speak to them of the Father’s love. At each Eucharist, the table of the Lord’s Supper, we should be inspired to follow His example, by reaching out to others, in a spirit of respect and openness, in order to share with them the gift we ourselves have received".
This is especially important in Asia, where the Church is committed to "respectful dialogue with the followers of other religions" and where "this prophetic witness most often takes place, as we know, through the dialogue of life". Through the testimony of "lives transformed by God’s love, we best proclaim the Kingdom’s promise of reconciliation, justice and unity for the human family. Our example can open hearts to the grace of the Holy Spirit, Who leads them to Christ the Saviour".
The other gesture, the washing of feet, is "a sign of humble service, of the unconditional love with which He gave his life on the Cross for the salvation of the world. The Eucharist is a school of humble service. It teaches us readiness to be there for others. This too is at the heart of missionary discipleship". The Pope gives the example of the aftermath of the typhoon that brought immense devastation to the Philippines, yet it also brought in its wake an immense outpouring of solidarity, generosity and goodness. "People set about rebuilding not just homes, but lives. The Eucharist speaks to us of that power, which flows from the Cross and constantly brings new life. It changes hearts. It enables us to be caring, to protect the poor and the vulnerable, and to be sensitive to the cry of our brothers and sisters in need. It teaches us to act with integrity and to reject the injustice and corruption which poison the roots of society".
Pope Francis concluded by announcing that the next International Eucharistic Congress will take place in 2020 in Budapest, Hungary.