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Monday, July 8, 2013

0287: Reflections on the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Pope Benedict XVI



Entry 0287: Reflections on the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Pope Benedict XVI during His Pontificate 




On eight occasions during his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI delivered reflections on the 14h Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 03 July 2005, 09 July 2006, 08 July 2007, 06 July 2008, 05 July 2009, 04 July 2010, 03 July 2011, and 08 July 2012. Here are the texts of the eight reflections before the recitation of the Angelus and two homilies delivered on these occasions.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 3 July 2005

A few days ago I had the joy of presenting the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For several years there has been the need for a short catechism that would sum up simply but completely all the essential elements of Catholic doctrine. Divine Providence brought this project to fruition on the same day that the Cause for the Beatification of our beloved John Paul II was introduced; this has given the Compendium a definite boost. While I thank the Lord for this, dear brothers and sisters, I would like once again to stress the importance of this useful and practical instrument for the proclamation of Christ and his Gospel of salvation.

The Compendium, in an imaginary dialogue between master and disciple, summarizes the broadest explanation of the Church’s faith and of Catholic teaching contained in the Catechism, which was published by my Venerable Predecessor in 1992. The Compendium takes up its four closely-connected parts, enabling one to grasp the extraordinary unity of the mystery of God, his saving plan for all humanity, and the centrality of Jesus, the Only-begotten Son of God made man in the womb of the Virgin Mary and who died and rose for us. Present and active in his Church, particularly in the Sacraments, Christ is the source of our faith, the model for every believer and the Teacher of our prayers.

Dear brothers and sisters, how necessary it is at the beginning of this third millennium that the entire Christian community, unanimously and of one accord, proclaim, teach and witness to the full to the truths of the Catholic faith, doctrine and morals! May the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church also contribute to the hoped for renewal of catechesis and evangelization so that all Christians - children, young people, adults, families and communities -, docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, may become catechists and evangelizers in every environment, helping others to encounter Christ. We ask this with trust in the Virgin Mother of God, Star of Evangelization.


APOSTOLIC JOURNEY
OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO VALENCIA (SPAIN) ON OCCASION
OF THE FIFTH WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES

ANGELUS

City of Arts and Sciences, Sunday, 9 July 2006

Before concluding this celebration, we turn to the Virgin Mary, like the many families which invoke her in the privacy of their homes, so that she will be present to them with maternal concern. Through the intercession of Mary, open your homes and your hearts to Christ, so that he will be your strength and your joy, and help you to live in harmony and to proclaim before the world the invincible power of true love.

At this time, I wish to thank all those who contributed to the successful outcome of this Meeting. Above all I express my profound gratitude to Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and to Archbishop Agustín García-Gasco of Valencia, who brought to a happy end this great World Meeting of Families. In a particular way, I wish to acknowledge the generous and efficient work of the many volunteers from so many nations, and I thank them for their selfless cooperation in all the events. I offer a special word of thanks to the many consecrated persons and religious communities, especially the cloistered communities, who have accompanied all the celebrations with persevering prayer.

I now have the joy of announcing that the next World Meeting of Families will be held in 2009 in Mexico City. To the beloved pilgrim Church in the noble nation of Mexico and, in a personal way, to Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, the Archbishop of Mexico City, I express even now my gratitude for his generous offer.


APOSTOLIC JOURNEY
OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO VALENCIA (SPAIN) ON OCCASION
OF THE FIFTH WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES

HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER

City of Arts and Sciences, Sunday, 9 July 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Holy Mass which it is my great joy to celebrate, together with many of my Brothers in the Episcopate and a great number of priests, I give thanks to the Lord for all of you, the joyful throng of beloved families gathered in this place, and the many others who in distant lands are following this celebration by radio and television. I greet all of you with an affectionate embrace.

Both Esther and Paul, as we have just heard in today’s readings, testify that the family is called to work for the handing on of the faith. Esther admits: “Ever since I was born, I have heard in the tribe of my family that you, O Lord, took Israel out of all the nations” (14:5). Paul follows the tradition of his Jewish ancestors by worshiping God with a pure conscience. He praises the sincere faith of Timothy and speaks to him about “a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and now, I am sure, lives in you” (2 Tim 1:15). In these biblical testimonies, the family includes not only parents and children, but also grandparents and ancestors. The family thus appears to us as a community of generations and the guarantee of a patrimony of traditions.

None of us gave ourselves life or singlehandedly learned how to live. All of us received from others both life itself and its basic truths, and we have been called to attain perfection in relationship and loving communion with others. The family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, is the expression of this relational, filial and communal aspect of life. It is the setting where men and women are enabled to be born with dignity, and to grow and develop in an integral manner.

Once children are born, through their relationship with their parents they begin to share in a family tradition with even older roots. Together with the gift of life, they receive a whole patrimony of experience. Parents have the right and the inalienable duty to transmit this heritage to their children: to help them find their own identity, to initiate them to the life of society, to foster the responsible exercise of their moral freedom and their ability to love on the basis of their having been loved and, above all, to enable them to encounter God. Children experience human growth and maturity to the extent that they trustingly accept this heritage and training which they gradually make their own. They are thus enabled to make a personal synthesis between what has been passed on and what is new, a synthesis that every individual and generation is called to make.

At the origin of every man and woman, and thus in all human fatherhood and motherhood, we find God the Creator. For this reason, married couples must accept the child born to them, not simply as theirs alone, but also as a child of God, loved for his or her own sake and called to be a son or daughter of God. What is more: each generation, all parenthood and every family has its origin in God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Esther’s father had passed on to her, along with the memory of her forebears and her people, the memory of a God who is the origin of all and to whom all are called to answer. The memory of God the Father, who chose a people for himself and who acts in history for our salvation. The memory of this Father sheds light on our deepest human identity: where we come from, who we are, and how great is our dignity. Certainly we come from our parents and we are their children, but we also come from God who has created us in his image and called us to be his children. Consequently, at the origin of every human being there is not something haphazard or chance, but a loving plan of God. This was revealed to us by Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and a perfect man. He knew whence he came and whence all of us have come: from the love of his Father and our Father.

Faith, then, is not merely a cultural heritage, but the constant working of the grace of God who calls and our human freedom, which can respond or not to his call. Even if no one can answer for another person, Christian parents are still called to give a credible witness of their Christian faith and hope. The need to ensure that God’s call and the good news of Christ will reach their children with the utmost clarity and authenticity.

As the years pass, this gift of God which the parents have helped set before the eyes of the little ones will also need to be cultivated with wisdom and gentleness, in order to instill in them a capacity for discernment. Thus, with the constant witness of the their parents’ conjugal love, permeated with a living faith, and with the loving accompaniment of the Christian community, children will be helped better to appropriate the gift of their faith, to discover the deepest meaning of their own lives and to respond with joy and gratitude.

The Christian family passes on the faith when parents teach their children to pray and when they pray with them (see Familiaris Consortio, no. 60); when they lead them to the sacraments and gradually introduce them to the life of the Church; when all join in reading the Bible, letting the light of faith shine on their family life and praising God as our Father.

In contemporary culture, we often see an excessive exaltation of the freedom of the individual as an autonomous subject, as if we were self-created and self-sufficient, apart from our relationship with others and our responsibilities in their regard. Attempts are being made to organize the life of society on the basis of subjective and ephemeral desires alone, with no reference to objective, prior truths such as the dignity of each human being and his inalienable rights and duties, which every social group is called to serve.

The Church does not cease to remind us that true human freedom derives from our having been created in God’s image and likeness. Christian education is consequently an education in freedom and for freedom. “We do not do good as slaves, who are not free to act otherwise, bur we do it because we are personally responsible for the world; because we love truth and goodness, because we love God himself and therefore his creatures as well. This is the true freedom to which the Holy Spirit wants to lead us (Homily for the Vigil of Pentecost, 9 June 2006).

Jesus Christ is the perfect human being, an example of filial freedom, who teaches us to share with others his own love: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15:9). And so the Second Vatican Council teaches that “Christian married couples and parents, following their own way, should support one another in grace all through life with faithful love, and should train their children, lovingly received from God, in Christian doctrine and evangelical virtues. Because in this way they present to all an example of unfailing and generous love, they build up the brotherhood of charity, and they stand as witnesses and cooperators of the fruitfulness of Mother Church, as a sign of and a share in that love with which Christ loved his Bride and gave himself for her” (Lumen Gentium, no. 41).

The joyful love with which our parents welcomed us and accompanied our first steps in this world is like a sacramental sign and prolongation of the benevolent love of God from which we have come. The experience of being welcomed and loved by God and by our parents is always the firm foundation for authentic human growth and authentic development, helping us to mature on the way towards truth and love, and to move beyond ourselves in order to enter into communion with others and with God.

To help us advance along the path of human maturity, the Church teaches us to respect and foster the marvellous reality of the indissoluble marriage between man and woman which is also the origin of the family. To recognize and assist this institution is one of the greatest services which can be rendered nowadays to the common good and to the authentic development of individuals and societies, as well as the best means of ensuring the dignity, equality and true freedom of the human person.

This being the case, I want to stress the importance and the positive role which the Church’s various family associations are playing in support of marriage and the family. Consequently, “I wish to call on all Christians to collaborate cordially and courageously with all people of good will who are serving the family in accordance with their responsibility” (Familiaris Consortio, no. 86), so that by joining forces in a legitimate plurality of initiatives they will contribute to the promotion of the authentic good of the family in contemporary society.

Let us return for a moment to the first reading of this Mass, drawn from the Book of Esther. The Church at prayer has seen in this humble queen interceding with all her heart for her suffering people, a prefigurement of Mary, whom her Son has given to us all as our Mother; a prefigurement of the Mother who protects by her love God’s family on its earthly pilgrimage. Mary is the image and model of all mothers, of their great mission to be guardians of life, of their mission to be teachers of the art of living and of the art of loving.

The Christian family - father, mother and children - is called, then, to do all these things not as a task imposed from without, but rather as a gift of the sacramental grace of marriage poured out upon the spouses. If they remain open to the Spirit and implore his help, he will not fail to bestow on the them the love of God the Father made manifest and incarnate in Christ. The presence of the Spirit will help spouses not to lose sight of the source and criterion of their love and self-giving, and to cooperate with him to make it visible and incarnate in every aspect of their lives. The Spirit will also awaken in them a yearning for the definitive encounter with Christ in the house of his Father and our Father. And this is the message of hope that, from Valencia, I wish to share with all the families of the world. Amen.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 8 July 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Gospel today (see Lk 10: 1-12, 17-20) presents Jesus sending out 72 disciples to the villages he is about to visit in order to prepare the way. This is a particular feature of the Evangelist Luke, who stressed that the mission was not exclusive to the Twelve Apostles but extended also to the other disciples. Indeed, Jesus said: “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few” (Lk 10: 2). There is work for all in God’s field. Christ, however, did not limit himself to sending out his missionaries: he also gave them clear and precise instructions on how to behave. He first sent them out “two by two” so that they might help each other and bear witness to brotherly love. He warned them that they would be like “lambs in the midst of wolves”. They were to be peaceful in spite of everything, and were to bear a message of peace in every situation; they were not to take clothes or money with them in order to live on whatever Providence offered them; they were to heal the sick as a sign of God’s mercy; wherever people rejected them, they were to depart, doing no more than to alert them to their responsibility for rejecting the Kingdom of God. St Luke highlighted the disciples’ enthusiasm at the good results of their mission and recorded Jesus’ beautiful expression: “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10: 20). May this Gospel reawaken in all the baptized the awareness that they are missionaries of Christ, called to prepare the way for him with words and with the witness of their lives.

It is vacation time and tomorrow I am leaving for Lorenzago di Cadore, where I shall be a guest of the Bishop of Treviso in the house in which the venerable John Paul II used to stay. The mountain air will do me good and I shall be able - I hope so - to dedicate myself more freely to reflection and prayer. I hope everyone, especially those in greatest need, will be able to take a bit of vacation to restore their physical and spiritual energy and recover a healthy contact with nature. The mountains call to mind in particular the spirit’s ascent towards the heavens, its uplifting towards the “high standard” of our humanity, which daily life unfortunately tends to debase. In this regard, I would like to recall the fifth pilgrimage of young people to the Cross on Mount Adamello, which the Holy Father John Paul II visited twice. The pilgrimage has been taking place in these days and has just culminated in Holy Mass, celebrated at an altitude of 3,000 meters. As I greet the Archbishop of Trent and the General Secretary of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, as well as the Authorities of Trent, I remind all young Italians of their appointment in Loreto on 1-2 September.

May the Virgin Mary protect us always, both in our mission and in well-deserved rest, so that we may joyfully and fruitfully carry out our work in the Lord’s vineyard.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo, Sunday, 6 July 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would first like to address an affectionate and grateful greeting to the Authorities and to the entire Civil and Ecclesial community of Castel Gandolfo who always give me a warm and attentive welcome during my stay. My thoughts are now already turning to Australia where, please God, I shall be going next Saturday, 12 July. Indeed, the Twenty-Third World Youth Day will take place in Sydney, in the south-east of the Country. In recent months the “Youth Day Cross” has travelled through the whole of Oceania and in Sydney will once again be a silent witness of the pact of alliance between the Lord Jesus Christ and the new generations. The celebration to welcome the young people is planned for 15 July. The great Prayer Vigil will take place on Saturday, 19 July, and the Eucharistic celebration, the culminating and conclusive event, on Sunday the 20th. The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference has organized everything very carefully, with the practical supported and cooperation of the Civil Authorities. The first groups of young men and women are now setting out from the other continents bound for Australia. I invite the whole Church to feel that she shares in this new phase of the great youth pilgrimage through the world, begun in 1985 by the Servant of God John Paul II.

The upcoming World Youth Day announces in advance to be a new Pentecost: indeed, Christian Communities began preparation already a year ago, following the guidelines I indicated in my Message on the theme: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1: 8). This is the promise that Jesus made to his disciples after the Resurrection and that is still valid and timely in the Church: the Holy Spirit, awaited and received in prayer, instils in believers the ability to be witnesses of Jesus and his Gospel. The Divine Spirit, filling the Church’s sails, urges her “to put out into the deep” ever anew, from generation to generation, to bring everyone the Good News of God’s love, fully revealed in Jesus Christ who died and rose for our sake. I am sure that Catholics from every corner of the earth will join me and the young people gathered in Sydney, as if in an Upper Room, insistently invoking the Holy Spirit so that he will fill their hearts with inner light, with love for God and for their brethren and with courageous initiative in introducing Jesus’ eternal message into the variety of languages and cultures.

The World Youth Day Cross is accompanied by the icon of the Virgin Mary. Let us entrust this journey in Australia and the Youth Meeting in Sydney to her motherly protection. In addition, on this first Sunday in July I wish to invoke Mary’s intercession so that the summer season may offer to all the opportunity for a period of rest and of physical and spiritual renewal.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 5 July 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The first Sunday of July was formerly marked by the devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Christ. Several of my venerable Predecessors confirmed this in the past century and Bl. John XXIII, with his Apostolic Letter Inde a Primis (30 June 1960), explained its meaning and approved its Litanies. The theme of blood, linked to that of the Paschal Lamb, is of primary importance in Sacred Scripture. In the Old Testament, aspersion with the blood of sacrificed animals represented and established the covenant between God and his People, as we read in the Book of Exodus: “and Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words’ “ (Ex 24: 8).

Jesus refers explicitly to this formula during the Last Supper, when, offering the cup to the disciples, he says: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26: 28). And effectively, from the scourging to the piercing of his side after his death on the Cross, Christ poured out all his Blood as the true Lamb sacrificed for the redemption of all. The salvific value of his Blood is expressly stated in many passages of the New Testament. It suffices to mention, in this Year for Priests, the beautiful words of the Letter to the Hebrews: “Christ... entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own Blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (9: 11-14).

Dear Brothers, it is written in Genesis that the blood of Abel, killed by his brother Caine, cries to God from the earth (see 4: 10). And, unfortunately, today as in the past, this cry never ceases, as human blood continues to be shed because of violence, injustice and hatred. When will human beings learn that life is sacred and belongs to God alone? When will they understand that we are all brothers and sisters? To the cry which rises from so many parts of the earth for the blood that is spilled, God responds with the Blood of his Son, who gave his life for us. Christ did not respond to evil with evil but with goodness, with his infinite love. The Blood of Christ is the pledge of God’s faithful love for humanity. Every human being, even in conditions of extreme moral wretchedness can say, fixing his eyes on the wounds of the Crucified One: “God has not abandoned me, he loves me, he has given his life for me”, and thus rediscover hope. May the Virgin Mary, who at the foot of the Cross together with the Apostle John received the testament of Jesus’ Blood, help us to rediscover the inestimable richness of this grace and to feel deep and everlasting gratitude for it.


PASTORAL VISIT TO SULMONA

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Garibaldi Square – Sulmona, Sunday, 4 July 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of this solemn celebration, at the time of our usual Sunday appointment, I invite you to recite the Angelus prayer together. To the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate with particular devotion in the Shrine of the “Madonna della Libera”, I entrust this Church of Sulmona-Valva: the Bishop, the priests and all the People of God. May this Church, united and joyful, walk on the path of faith, hope and charity. Faithful to the legacy of St Peter Celestine, may she always know how to combine evangelical radicalism and mercy so that all who seek God may find him.

In Mary, Virgin of silence and of listening, St Peter Morrone found the perfect model of obedience to the Divine Will in a simple and humble life, committed to seeking what is truly essential, always ready to thank the Lord, recognizing everything as a gift of his Goodness.

We too, who live in a time of greater comfort and amenities, are called to appreciate a moderate way of life, to keep our minds and hearts free and to be able to share what we have with our brothers and sisters. May Mary Most Holy, whose maternal presence enlivened the first community of Jesus’ disciples also help the Church of today to bear a credible witness to the Gospel.


PASTORAL VISIT TO SULMONA

EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Garibaldi Square – Sulmona, Sunday, 4 July 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am delighted to be with you today and to celebrate this solemn Eucharist with you and for you. I greet your Pastor, Bishop Angelo Spina: I thank him for his warm expressions of welcome on behalf of you all and for his gifts, which I truly appreciate as “signs”, as he himself called them, of the affective and effective communion that binds the people of this beloved region of the Abruzzo to the Successor of Peter. I greet the Archbishops and Bishops present, the priests, the men and women religious and the Representatives of the Ecclesial Associations and Movements. I address a respectful thought to Hon. Mr Fabio Federico, the Mayor with gratitude for his courteous greeting and for the “signs”, the gifts to the Government Representative and to the Civil and Military Authorities. I address special thanks to those who generously offered their cooperation in the organization of my Pastoral Visit. Dear brothers and sisters, I have come to share with you the joys and hopes, the efforts and tasks, the ideals and aspirations of this diocesan community. I know well that Sulmona is not exempt from difficulties, nor from problems and worries. I am thinking in particular of all the people who are living in precarious conditions because of the lack of work, uncertainty about the future, physical and moral suffering and, as the Bishop recalled, a sense of loss due to the earthquake of 6 April 2009. I want to reassure every one of my closeness and my remembrance in prayer, while I encourage you to persevere in witnessing to the human and Christian values so deeply rooted in the faith and history of this area and its population.

Dear friends, my Visit is taking place on the occasion of the special Jubilee Year proclaimed by the Bishops of Abruzzo and Molise to celebrate the 800th anniversary of St Peter Celestine’s birth. In flying over your region I was able to contemplate the beauty of its landscape and, especially, to admire some of the places closely linked to the life of this outstanding figure: Monte Morrone, where Peter lived as a hermit for many years; the Hermitage of Sant’Onofrio, where, in 1294, he learned the news of his election as Supreme Pontiff at the Conclave held in Perugia; and the Abbey of Santo Spirito, whose main altar he consecrated after his coronation in the Basilica of Collemaggio in L’Aquila. I visited this Basilica myself in April last year, after the earthquake that devastated the region, to venerate the urn in which his remains are preserved and to lay upon it the pallium I received on the day of the inauguration of my Pontificate.

More than 800 years have passed since the birth of St Peter Celestine V, but he lives on in history on account of the well-known events of his Pontificate and, above all, his holiness. Indeed, holiness never loses its power of attraction, it does not fade into oblivion, it never goes out of fashion; on the contrary, with the passage of time it shines out ever more brightly, expressing man’s perennial effort to reach God. I would like to draw from St Peter Celestine’s life some lessons that also apply in our day.

From his youth Pietro Angelerio was a “seeker of God”, a man who sought the answers to the great questions of our existence: Who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I alive? For whom do I live? He set out in quest of truth and happiness, he went in search of God and in order to hear God’s voice decided to detach himself from the world and live as a hermit. Thus silence became a characteristic feature of his daily life. And it was precisely in exterior but especially interior silence that he succeeded in perceiving God’ voice, able to guide his life. Here there is a first important aspect for us: we live in a society in which it seems that every space, every moment must be “filled” with projects, activities and noise; there is often no time even to listen or to converse. Dear brothers and sisters, let us not fear to create silence, within and outside ourselves, if we wish to be able not only to become aware of God’s voice but also to make out the voice of the person beside us, the voices of others.

However it is also important to emphasize a second element: Pietro Angelerio’s discovery of God was not the result of his own efforts but was made possible by the Grace of God itself that prepared him. What he had, what he was, did not come from himself: it was given to him, it was Grace, and so it also entailed responsibility to God and to others. Although our life is very different from his, the same also applies for us: all that is essential in our existence was bestowed upon us without our contribution. The fact that I am alive does not depend on me. The fact that there were people who introduced me to life, who taught me what it means to love and to be loved, who handed down the faith to me and opened my eyes to God: all of this is Grace, it was not “done by me”. We would not have been able to do anything on our own had we not been granted to do so: God always anticipates our needs and in every individual life there is a beauty and goodness that we can easily recognize as his grace, as a ray of the light of his goodness. For this reason we must be attentive, we must always keep open our “inner eyes”, the eyes of our heart. And if we learn to know God in his infinite goodness, then we shall be able to see in our lives with wonder, like the Saints, the signs of that God who is always close to us, who is always good to us, who says: “Have faith in me!”.

In addition, in inner silence, in the perception of the Lord’s presence, Peter of Morrone developed a vivid experience of the beauty of creation, the work of God’s hands: he was able to grasp its profound meaning, he respected its signs and rhythms, he made use of it for what is essential to life.

I know that this local Church, like the other Churches in the Abruzzo and the Molise, is actively engaged in a campaign of sensitization to promote the common good and to safeguard creation: I encourage you in this effort and urge you all to feel responsible for your own future and the future of others, also respecting and caring for creation, the fruit and sign of God’s Love.

In today’s Second Reading from the Letter to the Galatians we heard a beautiful expression of St Paul that is also a perfect spiritual portrait of St Peter Celestine: “Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (6:14). The Cross was indeed the centre of his life. It gave him the strength to endure the harsh penances and to face the most demanding moments, from his youth to his last hour: he was always aware that from it salvation comes. The Cross also gave St Peter Celestine a clear awareness of sin that was always accompanied by an equally clear awareness of God’s infinite mercy for his creature. Seeing the wide-open arms of his Crucified God, he felt himself to be carried through the boundless ocean of God’s love. As a priest he experienced the beauty of being a steward of this mercy, absolving those who repented of sin and, when he was elected to the See of the Apostle Peter, he chose to grant a special Indulgence, known as “La “Perdonanza’“ [The Pardon]. I would like to urge priests to be clear and credible witnesses of the good news of reconciliation with God, helping contemporary men and women to recover the sense of sin and of God’s forgiveness, in order to experience that superabundant joy of which the Prophet Isaiah spoke to us in the First Reading. (see Is 66:10-14).

Finally, one last element: Although St Peter lived as a hermit he was not “closed in on himself”; rather he was full of enthusiasm at bringing the Good News of the Gospel to his brethren. Moreover the secret of his pastoral fruitfulness lay, precisely, in “abiding” with the Lord, in prayer, as we were also reminded by today’s Gospel passage: our top priority is always to pray to the Lord of the harvest (see Lk 10:2). And it is only after this invitation that Jesus outlines some of the essential duties of his disciples: the serene, clear and courageous proclamation of the Gospel message even in moments of persecution without giving in to the allure of fashion or those of violence or of domination; detachment from anxiety about things, money and dress trusting in the Father’s Providence; attention and care, particularly for those sick in body and mind (see Lk10:5-9). These were also the characteristics of the brief and troubled Pontificate of Celestine V and are the characteristics of the Church’s missionary activity in every epoch.

Dear brothers and sisters, I am here among you to strengthen you in the faith. I would like to exhort you, forcefully and with affection, to stay firm in the faith you have received, which gives meaning to life and gives the strength to love. May we be accompanied on this journey by the example and intercession of the Mother of God and of St Peter Celestine. Amen!


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 3 July 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Gospel today the Lord Jesus repeats to us the words that we know so well but that never fail to move us: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28-30).

As Jesus went along the roads of Galilee proclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing many sick people, “he had compassion on the crowds, for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (see Mt 9:35-36).

Jesus’ gaze seems to extend to this day, to our world. Today, too, it rests on so many people oppressed by difficult living conditions and lacking valid reference points to find a meaning and a purpose for their existence. Exhausted multitudes are found in the poorest countries, harshly tried by poverty; and even in the richer countries there are numerous dissatisfied men and women who are even ill with depression. Let us think of the many evacuees and refugees, of all those who emigrate, putting their own lives at risk. Christ’s gaze then rests his gaze upon all these people, indeed upon each one of these children of the Father who is in Heaven and repeats: “Come to me, all...” of you.

Jesus promised he would give everyone “rest”, but on one condition: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart”. What is this “yoke” which lightens instead of burdening, which instead of oppressing, uplifts? The “yoke” of Christ is the law of love, it is his commandment which he bequeathed to his disciples (see Jn 13:34; 15:12). The true remedy for humanity’s wounds, both material — such as hunger and injustice in all its forms — and psychological and moral, caused by a false well-being, is a rule of life based on fraternal love, whose source is in the love of God. For this reason it is necessary to abandon the way of arrogance, of violence used to obtain ever more powerful positions, to assure oneself of success at any price.

It is also necessary to give up the aggressive attitude with regard to the environment which has prevailed in recent centuries and to adopt a reasonable “gentleness”. However, in human, interpersonal and social relations above all, the rule of respect and of non-violence, namely, the power of the truth against every kind of abuse is what can assure a future worthy of the human being.

Dear friends, yesterday we celebrated a particular liturgical Memorial of Mary Most Holy, praising God for her Immaculate Heart. May the Virgin help us to “learn” true humility from Jesus, to take up his light yoke with determination, to experience inner peace and to become in our turn capable of comforting other brothers and sisters who are walking with difficulty on life’s path.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Castel Gandolfo, Sunday, 8 July 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to reflect briefly on this Sunday’s Gospel passage. It is taken from the text that has the famous saying “Nemo propheta in patria”. In other words no prophet is properly accepted among his own people who watched him grow up (see Mk 6:4). Indeed after Jesus, when he was about 30 years old, had left Nazareth and had already been travelling about preaching and working miracles of healing elsewhere, he once returned to his birthplace and started teaching in the synagogue. His fellow citizens “were astonished” by his wisdom, and knowing him as “the son of Mary”, as the carpenter who had lived in their midst, instead of welcoming him with faith were shocked and took offence (see Mk 6:2-3). This reaction is understandable because familiarity at the human level makes it difficult to go beyond this in order to be open to the divine dimension. That this son of a carpenter was the Son of God was hard for them to believe. Jesus actually takes as an example the experience of the prophets of Israel, who in their own homeland were an object of contempt, and identifies himself with them. Due to this spiritual closure Jesus “could do no mighty work there [Nazareth], except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them” (Mk 6:5). In fact Christ’s miracles are not a display of power but signs of the love of God that is brought into being wherever it encounters reciprocated human faith. Origen writes: “as in the case of material things there exists in some things a natural attraction towards some other thing, as in the magnet for iron... so there is an attraction in such faith towards the divine power” (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 10, 19).

It would therefore seem that Jesus—as is said—is making sense of the negative welcome he received in Nazareth. Instead, at the end of the account, we find a remark that says precisely the opposite. The Evangelist writes that Jesus “marvelled because of their unbelief” (Mk 6:6). The astonishment of Jesus’ fellow townspeople is matched by his own surprise. In a certain sense he too is shocked! Although he knows that no prophet is well accepted in his homeland, the closed heart of his people was nevertheless obscure and impenetrable to him: how could they fail to recognize the light of the Truth? Why did they not open themselves to the goodness of God who deigned to share in our humanity? Effectively Jesus of Nazareth the man is the transparency of God, in him God dwells fully. And while we are constantly seeking other signs, other miracles, we do not realize that he is the true Sign, God made flesh, he is the greatest miracle in the world: the whole of God’s love contained in a human heart, in a man’s face.

The One who fully understood this reality was the Virgin Mary, who is blessed because she believed (see Lk 1:45). Mary was not shocked by her Son: her wonder for him was full of faith, full of love and joy, in seeing him so human and at the same time so divine. Let us therefore learn from her, our Mother in faith, to recognize in the humanity of Christ the perfect revelation of God. 



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