My venerable Brothers,
Cardinal Joachim Meisner
Archbishop of Cologne
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch
President of the German Bishops’ Conference
With the motto “‘Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68) the Catholics in Germany, as well as faithful from neighbouring countries, are coming together these days at the National Eucharistic Congres in Cologne. The event is part of a long tradition of Eucharistic worship in this city, which was one of the first places, in the 13th century, to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi with Sacrament processions and in 1909 was the location of a Eucharistic World Congress. I happily send Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes from Rome as my special envoy, to show my close spiritual union with all German Catholics and to express the worldwide Communio of our Church.
Lord, to whom shall we go? After the lack of understanding of many of his listeners, who want to selfishly posses Jesus, Peter makes himself, with this question the spokesman of the faithful. The disciples do not rely on the earthly satisfaction of those that “have been fed” (John 6:26) and yet struggle for “a food that perishes” (John 6:27). Peter well knew hunger, and for a long time he did not find the food which would fully saturate him. Then he came across the man from Nazareth. He followed Him. Now he no longer knows the Master only from hearsay. In daily contact with Him, unlimited trust has grown. That is the faith in Jesus, and not without reason does Peter receive from the Lord the promise of life in abundance (cf. John 10:10).
Lord, to whom shall we go? That is what we ask here today as members of the Church. Perhaps this question from our mouth initially sounds even more hesitant than from the lips of Peter: as with the Apostle only the person of Jesus can be our answer. True, he lived 2,000 years ago. But we can still encounter him in our days, when we listen to His Word and are near to Him in a unique way in the Eucharist; this celebration, after all, is called by the Second Vatican Council the “sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). That the Holy Mass does not atrophy for us to a flat routine; that we may use its depth ever better! It is the yes that involves us in Christ’s mighty work of salvation, that opens our spiritual eyes for His love: for His active prophecy, with which, in the Upper Room, He began His act of selfgiving on the Cross; for His irrevocable victory over sin and death, which we proudly and festively proclaim. “One should learn to live the Mass,” Blessed Pope John Paul II said to young people at a Roman seminary who asked him about the profound meditation with which he celebrated (Visit to the Pontificum Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum, 18 October 1981). “Live the Holy Mass!” As an introduction to this, the prayerful adoration of the Eucharistic Lord in the tabernacle and the reception of the Sacrament of Confession help us to achieve that.
Lord, to whom shall we go? Many of our contemporaries – consciously or unaware – ultimately ask themselves this question. The Saviour wants to encounter them through us, since we have become His brothers and sisters through Baptism and receive the power in the Eucharistic meal to carry His salvific mission with us. With our lives and words we are to proclaim His, which Peter and the Apostles recognised: “Lord, you have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Our witness will set them alight, as we were set alight by Christ. All of us, bishops, priests and deacons, religious and laity, have the task to bring God to the world and the world to God.
To encounter Christ, to entrust ourselves to Christ, to proclaim Christ – these are the key points of our faith, which come together in the focal point of the Eucharist. The Eucharistic Congress in this Year of Faith celebrates with new peace and certainty: The Lord of the Church lives in you. I impart on you the Apostolic Blessing with a heartfelt greeting.
From the Vatican, 30 May 2013, Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.