On Christmas, we enter into the heart of the feast of the Incarnation of God, knowing that this mystery is always fulfilled among us through the Eucharist. I ask the Virgin Mary to come to our great help, for I am always afraid to enter into this Mystery, I am afraid to diminish its great meaning by speaking of it.
Every Eucharist begins on the day of the Annunciation, when the Lord sends the Angel, his messenger, to ask Mary to say “Yes” to the divine plan: a human body that would be given to God through Mary. This mystery reveals that God still wants to make his dwelling in my body today in order to save me.
Then the Father asks Mary: “Do you want to give my Son your hands to heal the sick and give him arms to hug the children? Those same arms that He will extend later on the cross? Do you want to give him feet, so that he may run in search of the lost sheep? Do you want to give him eyes, so that all the light of heaven may spread over the earth, and ears, so that he may hear the cry of the poor? Mary, do you want to give him lips, so that he may proclaim the truth, and a face, so that men may see me in this face? Do you want to give this God, this Son of mine, a human heart, so that all the love that overflows from the Trinity may exist, may love with a human heart, may love humanity with tenderness? Do you want to give him your flesh so that he may give it to you as food? Do you want to give him your blood, so that one day he may pour it all out and wash away the sins of the world?
At that moment, all the Old Testament saints who were waiting to enter heaven, Adam and Eve, all of them, are kind of in suspense, looking at Mary’s lips, what will she answer? And of course, the devil is on the other side saying, “Say no! No!” and Mary’s guardian angel saying, “Yes, yes, say yes!”. But the devil has no power, he has nothing to do with Mary, because at her conception she had like this spiritual dialysis, where the sin-infected blood was completely washed away by the blood of Jesus. So, the Holy Spirit takes the “Yes” that the Son constantly says to the Father, that “Yes, Father, here I am”, and puts it in Mary’s heart and on Mary’s lips.
And when Mary says, “Here I am!” She means, “Here is my flesh which is given to you. My blood I give you.” Exactly at that moment the Holy Mass was invented and began, because Jesus could not give us his Body, his Blood, if he had not first received it from Mary. He receives from Mary the Body in which he will suffer, die and for which he will give us the Eucharist. And there is the first invocation of the Holy Spirit and Pentecost on Mary. From that moment on, God is truly in Mary, and the world is already saved, everything that will happen afterwards will only be a consequence of that precise moment when the Eternal One measured less than a millimeter in Mary’s womb.
That is why at every Mass there is this little epiclise, this tiny Pentecost over the wine and the bread, because without the Holy Spirit it would be impossible for God to become the Son of Mary. So is the same Holy Spirit at the Annunciation and at every Mass, a Mystery that Francis of Assisi adored with so much love! He used to say that every Mass is really Christmas. It is again the Son, the Child of Bethlehem who gives himself to us. And so it is in the Eucharist that Jesus becomes the heart of all creation. From the moment God assumes my matter, my human flesh, I know that all creation will one day be transfigured in Glory.
A Christmas story
I want to go back for a moment to what I said about Adam and Eve waiting in suspense for Mary’s “Yes”. In the stable in Bethlehem, Joseph sees a very old woman approaching. She could hardly walk, and little by little she was approaching the manger. The old woman took so long until she finally got there. Mary could not see what was happening, she could only see that the old woman was putting something in Jesus’ little hands. At that moment, suddenly, that old woman who was more than 80 years old, rejuvenates and becomes a young girl of 13 or 14 years old and begins to sing and dance. Then Joseph sees what the old woman had given to the child Jesus and sees an “apple” – the apple, the fruit, is an allegory of Paradise. That story helps us to understand how Jesus came to renew, to rejuvenate all of creation, all humankind.
Thus Jesus in the Eucharist becomes unity, he is the heart of all humanity and of all our history, of all creation. And I am amazed to think that all the saints who came before us, all those relatives of mine who received the Eucharist, the first Christians, and all those who before us, during these 2000 years received the Eucharist, received different hosts, but they received exactly the same Body and the same Blood of Jesus.
I am also amazed when I think that from my first communion, when I was a child, until the last communion of my life, on every occasion that I have received and will receive communion, I receive different hosts, but it is always the same Lord Jesus! And so many things can happen in my life, I can change city, country, so many things can change, but it will always be the same Jesus, the same Lord that I will receive in the Eucharist. It is unity through the years, through the centuries. The Eucharist also generates unity through space, because all those who receive communion today, all over the world, will receive different hosts, but they will receive the same Jesus! Always the same, in time and in every place he remains the same. This is extraordinary!In the Church there are various ways of celebrating Mass, what are called the various Liturgical Rites. Most of us are perhaps more familiar with the Latin rite, the Roman rite, but there are 12 different Catholic rites: Ethiopian, Melkite, Byzantine, Coptic, and so on. But even if all the external forms are different, it is always and everywhere the same Lord Jesus that we receive. He makes the physiological unity of the whole Church. And I explain this further:
I say that He makes the unity of humanity, because since Jesus took the body and blood of Mary, the Holy Spirit will always be poured out into the world from the Body of Jesus. It is the Flesh of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, that overflows the Spirit into the world. That is why many children have the vision that the chalice with the Blood of Jesus catches fire and burns before them, sometimes the host itself burns before them. There are children who cry out: “Mom, there is fire!”, these children see the “theological reality”, and they do not even know that many saints have had this same vision.
It is the Flesh that burns in flames, where the Holy Spirit shines, and when you receive the Body of Jesus you receive the Holy Spirit. Every communion is a personal Pentecost. For if this Body you receive were not filled with the Holy Spirit, it would not be the Body of God. So today, the Father only gives the Holy Spirit through the Flesh of His Son.
I have made processions with the Blessed Sacrament in various countries of the world. I love to bless all the peoples of the earth with the Blessed Sacrament. I turn to the different places on the horizon and I bless pronouncing the names of the 193 countries of the world. For from the Consecrated Host the rays of the Holy Spirit spread throughout the world. And everything good that happens to anyone, whether sinner or adulterer, comes from the Holy Spirit through the Eucharist! These people may not know it, but I know very well where the Holy Spirit comes from! And one day they will discover with astonishment that everything good, everything kind that they have done in life, has been given to them by the Holy Spirit, who is poured out through the Eucharist. The Eucharist, the Mystery of Christmas, generates unity in humanity.