IN BULGARIA AND MACEDONIA OF THE NORTH
[5-7 MAY 2019]
HOLY MASS WITH THE FIRST COMMUNIONS - 245 1st Communion children received by Pope Francis
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER
Church of the Sacred Heart by Rakovsky
Monday, 6 May 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, Christos Vozkrese!
I am happy to greet the boys and girls of First Communion, as well as their parents, relatives and friends. To all of you I address the beautiful greeting greetings that are also used in your country during this Easter season: «Christos vozkrese! This greeting is the expression of the joy of us Christians, disciples of Jesus, because he, who gave his life for love on the cross to destroy sin, rose again and made us adoptive children of God the Father. We are happy because He is alive and present among us today and always.
You, dear children and dear little girls, have come here from every corner of this "Land of Roses" to participate in a wonderful feast, which I am sure you will never forget: your first encounter with Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Can any of you ask me, but how can we meet Jesus, who lived many years ago and then died and was put in the grave? It is true: Jesus made an immense act of love to save humanity of all times. He remained in the tomb for three days, but we know - the Apostles assured us and many other witnesses who saw him - that God his Father and Father and ours raised him up. And now Jesus is alive, he is here with us, so today we can meet him in the Eucharist. We do not see it with these eyes, but we see it with the eyes of faith.
I see you here dressed in white tunics: this is an important and beautiful sign, because you are dressed up. First Communion is first and foremost a feast, in which we celebrate Jesus who has always wanted to remain by our side and who will never be separated from us. Feast that was possible thanks to our fathers, our grandparents, our families, our communities that helped us grow in faith.
You have come a long way to come here to this town of Rakovski. Your priests and catechists, who have followed your path of catechesis, have also accompanied you on the road that brings you today to meet Jesus and to receive him in your heart. He, as we heard in the Gospel (see Jn 6: 1-15), miraculously multiplied five loaves and two fish, filling the hunger of the crowd that had followed and listened to him. Did you notice how the miracle started? From the hands of a child who brought what he had: five loaves and two fish (see Jn 6: 9). In the same way that you today help the miracle to come true, to have all of us here remember the first meeting we had with Jesus in the Eucharist and to be able to give thanks for that day. Today you allow us to celebrate again and celebrate Jesus who is present in the Bread of Life. Because there are miracles that can happen only if we have a heart like yours, capable of sharing, of dreaming, of giving thanks, of trusting and honoring others. Making first communion means wanting to be more united with Jesus every day, growing in friendship with him and wishing that others can also enjoy the joy he wants to give us. The Lord needs you to be able to realize the miracle of reaching many of your friends and family with his joy.
Dear children, dear little girls, I am happy to share this great moment with you and to help you meet Jesus. You are truly living a day in a spirit of friendship, a spirit of joy and fraternity, a spirit of communion between you and the whole Church that , especially in the Eucharist, expresses fraternal communion among all its members. Our identity card is this: God is our Father, Jesus is our Brother, the Church is our family, we are brothers, our law is love.
I wish to encourage you to always pray with that enthusiasm and that joy you have today. And remember that this is the sacrament of First Communion but not of the last Communion. Today remember that Jesus always awaits you. Therefore, I hope that today is the beginning of many Communions, so that your heart may always be like today, in celebration, full of joy and above all gratitude.
At this point the Holy Father added an "arm" interview with the children, making use of the presence of the translator in the Bulgarian language
Pope Francis: Dear children and dear girls, I welcome you! I am happy to see you here for First Communion. I will ask you a question: are you happy to make First Communion?
Pope Francis: Sure?
Pope Francis: And why are you happy? Because Jesus comes! Let's say together: "I'm happy because Jesus comes".
Before the "Lamb of God" the Holy Father gave this statement:
Dear little boys and girls, now you will receive Jesus. You must not get distracted, think of other things, but only think of Jesus. Come to the altar to receive Jesus in silence; keep silence in your heart and think that this is the first time that Jesus comes to you. Then, it will come so many other times. Think of your parents, your catechists, your grandparents, your friends; and if you have quarreled with someone, forgive him heartily before coming. In silence, we approach Jesus.
At the end of the Mass in Rakovski
Dear brothers and sisters,
before concluding this celebration, I wish to thank all of you, starting with the brother Bishops present, the priests, the religious and the religious and families. I sincerely thank all those involved in the preparation and organization; and also those who could not participate but prayed, especially the sick and the elderly.
I take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to the Authorities of the country and to all those who in different ways have collaborated for the success of my visit.
FULL TEXT +Image Share from Vatican.va - Official Translation