FAITH IS THE GREATEST GIFT
Pope John Paul II
Given 16 July 1995

Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

I thank you for your invitation to Les Combes to celebrate the Eucharist with you.

During the Eucharist, Christ makes himself victim and offering on the Cross for us. His Resurrection makes the gift of eternal life manifest. The Eucharist reminds us of the Last Supper, the day of Holy Thursday, when Christ gathered his Apostles around the table.

Some Fathers of the Church say that the Eucharist is not only one table, but two. First, the table of the Word of God: we have just heard, in the principal point of today's liturgy, the parable of the Good Samaritan. The word of God teaches us to be Good Samaritans, to love God above all, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is the main teaching offered us by today's liturgy on the table of the Word of God.

But this celebration of the Word of God, which we have only just completed, leads us to the second table, the Eucharistic one. It brings us to the gifts, the bread and the wine. The bread, like the wine, is the fruit of the earth and of man's labor. Man, bringing these offerings to the Eucharistic table, brings himself, brings his work, the fruits of the earth. With himself, he brings all that surrounds him. Thus, during this Eucharist, you bring to the Eucharistic table, to this table of the Apostles, all that surrounds you: these magnificent mountains, this Aosta valley. All this is brought to this table so that it may be transformed, transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ. This is the great mystery of faith! We bring to the altar the fruits of our labor, the bread and the wine, so that they may be transubstantiated during the Eucharistic celebration into Christ's Body and Blood. In this Eucharist, in this mystery, Christ makes the paschal mystery ever present. Christ, who became man, was born of the Virgin Mary and suffered, he was crucified and died and is risen. In every celebration of the Eucharist, after the transubstantiation, after the consecration, we remember his death and we proclaim his Resurrection.

This profession of faith is heard by these mountains, by this wonderful Alpine panorama, by this splendid valley of Aosta.

All hear our profession of faith in Christ's Resurrection and think: "How is it possible?" Man dies on this earth, he passes away, he is buried. But Christ is risen. This is the great mystery of the Christian faith. Christ is the firstborn from the dead, as St. Paul tells us today. All die, but he is risen and we await his coming because we are also called to immortal life, and to Resurrection. We do not die, but we are destined by Christ for immortal life, for the Resurrection of our bodies.

This is our faith and it is this faith which I would like to share with you during the Eucharistic celebration.

We will offer the profession of our faith not only to these mountains, but also to all those who are visiting the Val d'Aosta. Faith is the greatest gift. Certainly your guests, like myself, have come here seeking a little respite, a tranquil atmosphere, they admire here the marvellous panorama but they are also seeking another respite, another good of a spiritual kind, they are seeking spiritual refreshment. I hope, dear friends, that the expectations of your guests will be fulfilled. I hope for them that they will return from Les Combes to their own surroundings, restored, spiritually revived. This will be a deed of a Good Samaritan, carried out not only by the people but also by these mountains and this sun which every day teach us, as we have heard in today's Psalm, to bless every work of God.

I hope, dear friends, that you will live in this blessing which the whole of creation expresses.

I hope you will offer this blessing as a daily prayer to Our Father, to the Creator of heaven and of earth, through Christ, his only Son in the Holy Spirit. Amen!


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