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Thursday, November 21, 2013

0309: Reflections on the Solemnity of Christ the King by Pope Benedict XVI



Entry 0309: Reflections on the Solemnity of Christ the King by Pope Benedict XVI during His Pontificate 




On eight occasions during his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI delivered reflections on the Solemnity of Christ the King, on 20 November 2005, 26 November 2006, 25 November 2007, 23 November 2008, 22 November 2009, 21 November 2010, 20 November 2011, and 25 November 2012. Here are the texts of eight brief reflections before the recitation of the Angelus and four homilies delivered on these occasions.



BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 20 November 2005  Solemnity of Christ the King

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Solemnity of Christ the King is celebrated today, the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. Since the announcement of his birth, the Only-begotten Son of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary, was described as “king” in the Messianic sense, that is, heir to the throne of David in accordance with the Prophets’ promise, for a Kingdom that would have no end (see Lk 1: 32-33).

The kingship of Christ remained completely hidden until he was 30 years old, years spent in an ordinary life in Nazareth. Then, during his public life, Jesus inaugurated the new Kingdom which “does not belong to this world” (Jn 18: 36), and finally, with his death and Resurrection, he fully established it.

Appearing to the Apostles after he had risen, he said: “Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28: 18): this power flows from the love that God manifested in its fullness in the sacrifice of his Son. The Kingdom of Christ is a gift offered to the people of every epoch so that those who believe in the incarnate Word “may not die but (may) have eternal life” (Jn 3: 16).  Therefore, he proclaimed precisely in the last Book of the Bible, Revelation: “I am the Alpha and the Omega... the beginning and the end” (Rv 22: 13).

“Christ: Alpha and Omega” is the title of the closing paragraph of Part I of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council, promulgated 40 years ago.

In that beautiful passage which borrows some words from the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, we read: “The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the desires of history and civilization, the centre of mankind, the joy of all hearts and the fulfilment of all aspirations. It is he whom the Father raised from the dead, exalted and placed at his right hand, constituting him judge of the living and the dead. Animated and drawn together in his Spirit we press onwards on our journey towards the consummation of history which fully corresponds to the plan of his love: “to unite all things in him, things in Heaven and things on earth’“ (Gaudium et Spes, no. 45).

In light of the centrality of Christ, Gaudium et Spes interprets the condition of contemporary men and women, their vocation and their dignity, and also the milieus in which they live: the family, culture, the economy, politics, the international community. This is the Church’s mission, yesterday, today and for ever: to proclaim and witness to Christ so that the human being, every human being, may totally fulfil his or her vocation.

May the Virgin Mary, whom God uniquely associated with the kingship of his Son, obtain that we welcome him as the Lord of our lives, in order to cooperate faithfully with the coming of his Kingdom of love, justice and peace.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 26 November 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year we are celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King. Today’s Gospel proposes to us anew part of the dramatic questioning to which Pontius Pilate subjected Jesus when he was handed over to him, accused of usurping the title, “King of the Jews”.

Jesus answered the Roman governor’s questions by declaring that he was a king, but not of this world (see Jn 18: 36). He did not come to rule over peoples and territories but to set people free from the slavery of sin and to reconcile them with God. And he added: “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” (Jn 18: 37).

But what is the “truth” that Christ came into the world to witness to? The whole of his life reveals that God is love: so this is the truth to which he witnessed to the full with the sacrifice of his own life on Calvary.

The Cross is the “throne” where he manifested his sublime kingship as God Love: by offering himself in expiation for the sin of the world, he defeated the “ruler of this world” (Jn 12: 31) and established the Kingdom of God once and for all. It is a Kingdom that will be fully revealed at the end of time, after the destruction of every enemy and last of all, death (see 1 Cor 15: 25-26). The Son will then deliver the Kingdom to the Father and God will finally be “everything to everyone” (1 Cor 15: 28).

The way to reach this goal is long and admits of no short cuts: indeed, every person must freely accept the truth of God’s love. He is Love and Truth, and neither Love nor Truth are ever imposed: they come knocking at the doors of the heart and the mind and where they can enter they bring peace and joy. This is how God reigns; this is his project of salvation, a “mystery” in the biblical sense of the word: a plan that is gradually revealed in history.

The Virgin Mary was associated in a very special way with Christ’s kingship. God asked her, a humble young woman of Nazareth, to become Mother of the Messiah and Mary responded to this request with her whole self, joining her unconditional “yes” to that of her Son, Jesus, and making herself obedient with him even in his sacrifice. This is why God exalted her above every other creature and Christ crowned her Queen of Heaven and earth.

Let us entrust the Church and all humanity to her intercession, so that God’s love can reign in all hearts and his design of justice and peace be fulfilled.


ORDINARY PUBLIC CONSISTORY  FOR THE CREATION OF NEW CARDINALS

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Solemnity of Christ the King Sunday, 25 November 2007

This Tuesday, at Annapolis in the United States, Israelis and Palestinians intend to begin again the negotiation process with the help of the International Community, in order to find a just and definitive solution to the conflict that for 60 years has stained the Holy Land with blood and has caused many tears and much suffering for the two populations. I ask you to unite yourselves with the Day of Prayer called for today by the Bishops’ Conference of the United States of America in order to implore from the Holy Spirit peace for that region, so dear to us, and the gifts of wisdom and courage for all the protagonists of this important meeting.

After the conclusion of today’s solemn Celebration, I desire to turn my cordial salute to all present, including those who remain outside the Basilica. I express special gratitude to the faithful who have travelled a long way in order to accompany the new Cardinals and participate in this event, which manifests in a unique manner the unity and universality of the Catholic Church. To the distinguished civil Authorities, I renew my deferential thought.

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims who have come to attend the Consistory, especially those from Iraq, Ireland, India, Kenya and the United States of America. Let us give thanks to God for the gift of these new Cardinals and strive to follow closely in the footsteps of Christ our King, bearing constant witness to his saving truth! I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome and a blessed Sunday!

Let us open ourselves now to reciting, as usual, the prayer of the Angelus. On occasions such as this, one feels ever more fully the spiritual presence of Mary Most Holy. As in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, she is today in the midst of us and accompanies us on this stop along the ecclesial road. We wish to entrust to the Virgin the new members of the College of Cardinals so that each one of them, as well as all the Ministers of the Church, may strive to imitate Christ through generous service of God and his people, in order to participate in his glorious Kingship!


ORDINARY PUBLIC CONSISTORY FOR THE CREATION OF NEW CARDINALS

EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION WITH THE NEW CARDINALS
AND
PRESENTATION OF THE CARDINAL’S RING

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

St Peter’s Basilica, Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe
Sunday, 25 November 2007

Your Eminences,  
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,  
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,  
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, the crown of the liturgical year, is enriched by the acceptance into the College of Cardinals of 23 new members whom, according to tradition, I have invited to concelebrate the Eucharist with me today. I address to each one of them my cordial greeting, which I extend with fraternal affection to all the Cardinals present. I am also pleased to greet the delegations from various countries and the Diplomatic Corps of the Holy See; the numerous Bishops and priests, the men and women Religious and all the faithful, especially those from Dioceses entrusted to the pastoral guidance of some of the new Cardinals.

The liturgical Feast of Christ the King gives our celebration an especially significant background, outlined and illuminated by the Biblical Readings. We find ourselves as it were facing an imposing fresco with three great scenes: at the centre, the Crucifixion according to the Evangelist Luke’s account; on one side, the royal anointing of David by the elders of Israel; on the other, the Christological hymn with which St Paul introduces the Letter to the Colossians. The whole scene is dominated by the figure of Christ, the one Lord before whom we are all brothers and sisters. The Church’s entire hierarchy, every charism and ministry, everything and everyone are at the service of his Lordship.

We must begin from the central event: the Cross. Here Christ manifests his unique Kingship. On Calvary two opposite attitudes confront each other. Some figures at the foot of the Cross as well as one of the two thieves address the Crucified One contemptuously: If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, they say, save yourself by coming down from the cross. Jesus reveals instead his own glory by remaining there on the Cross as the immolated Lamb. The other thief unexpectedly sides with him, and he implicitly confesses the royalty of the innocent, just One and implores: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingly power” (Lk 23: 42). St Cyril of Alexandria comments: “You see him crucified and you call him King. You believe that he who bears scoffing and suffering will reach divine glory” (Comment on Luke, Homily 153). According to the Evangelist John, the divine glory is already present, although hidden by the disfiguration of the Cross. But also in the language of Luke, the future is anticipated in the present when Jesus promises the good thief: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23: 43). St Ambrose observes: “He prayed that the Lord would remember him when he reached his Kingdom, but the Lord responded: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. Life is being with Christ, because where Christ is, there is his Kingdom” (Exposition of the Gospel according to Luke, 10, 121). The accusation: “This is the King of the Jews”, written on a tablet nailed above Jesus’ head thus becomes the proclamation of the truth. St Ambrose further notes: “The writing is correctly placed above the Cross, because even though the Lord Jesus was on the Cross, yet his royal majesty shone from the height of the Cross” (ibid., 10, 113).

The Crucifixion scene in the four Gospels constitutes the moment of truth when the “veil of the Temple” is torn and the Holy of Holies appears. The maximum revelation of God possible in this world occurs in Jesus Crucified, because God is love and the death of Jesus on the Cross is the greatest act of love in all of history. Well then, on the Cardinal’s ring that I will consign in a few moments to the new members of the Sacred College is portrayed precisely the Crucifixion. This, dear new Cardinal-Brothers, will always be an invitation for you to remember of what King you are servants, on what throne he has been raised and how he has been faithful to the end in overcoming sin and death with the power of divine mercy. Mother Church, Spouse of Christ, gives you this symbol in memory of her Spouse, who loved her and gave himself up for her (see Eph 5: 25). Thus, wearing the Cardinal’s ring, you are constantly called to give your life for the Church.

If we now cast a glance at the scene of the royal anointing of David presented in the First Reading, an important aspect on royalty strikes us, namely, its “corporative” dimension. The elders of Israel go to Hebron, they seal a covenantal pact with David, declaring to consider themselves united to him and wanting to be one only with him. If we relate Christ to this image, it seems to me that this same covenantal profession applies very well precisely to you, dear Cardinal-Brothers. You too who form the “senate” of the Church can say to Jesus: “Behold, we are your bone and flesh” (II Sam 5: 1). We belong to you, and we want to be one only with you. You are the Shepherd of the People of God, you are the Head of the Church (see II Sam 5: 2). In this solemn Eucharistic celebration we want to renew our pact with you, our friendship, because only in this intimate and profound relationship with you, Jesus, our King and Lord, does the dignity that has been conferred upon us and the responsibility it bears have sense and value.

There now remains for us to admire the third part of our “triptych” that the Word of God places before us: the Christological hymn of the Letter to the Colossians. First of all, we make the sentiments of joy and gratitude that pour forth from it our own, for the fact that the Kingdom of Christ, the “inheritance of the saints in light”, is not only something seen from a distance but a reality in which we are called to partake, into which we have been “transferred”, thanks to the redemptive action of the Son of God (see Col 1: 12-14). This graced action opens St Paul’s soul to the contemplation of Christ and his ministry in its two principal dimensions: the creation of all things and their reconciliation. The first aspect of Christ’s Lordship consists in the fact that “all things were created through him and for him... in him all things hold together” (Col 1: 16-17). The second dimension centres on the Paschal Mystery: through the Son’s death on the Cross, God has reconciled every creature to himself, has made peace between Heaven and earth; raising him from the dead he has made him the firstborn of the new creation, the “fullness” of every reality and “head of the [mystical] body”, the Church (see Col 1: 18-20). We find ourselves again before the Cross, the central event of the mystery of Christ. In the Pauline vision the Cross is placed within the entire economy of salvation, where Jesus’ royalty is displayed in all its cosmic fullness.

This text of the Apostle expresses a synthesis of truth and faith so powerful that we cannot fail to remain in deep admiration of it. The Church is the trustee of the mystery of Christ: She is so in all humility and without a shadow of pride or arrogance, because it concerns the maximum gift that she has received without any merit and that she is called to offer gratuitously to humanity of every age, as the horizon of meaning and salvation. It is not a philosophy, it is not a gnosis, even though it also comprises wisdom and knowledge. It is the mystery of Christ, it is Christ himself, the Logos incarnate, dead and risen, made King of the universe. How can one fail to feel a rush of enthusiasm full of gratitude for having been permitted to contemplate the splendour of this revelation? How can one not feel at the same time the joy and the responsibility to serve this King, to witness his Lordship with one’s life and word? In a particular way this is our duty, venerable Cardinal-Brothers: to proclaim the truth of Christ, hope of every person and the entire human family. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, my Venerable Predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, have been authentic heralds of Christ’s royalty in today’s world. And it is for me a motive of consolation to be able to always count on you, both collegially and individually, to bring to fulfilment with me the Petrine Ministry’s fundamental duty.

In conclusion, I would like to mention an aspect that is strongly united to this mission and that I entrust to your prayer: peace among all Christ’s disciples, as a sign of the peace that Jesus came to establish in the world. We have heard the great news of the Christological hymn: it pleased God to “reconcile” the universe through the Cross of Christ (see Col 1: 20)! Well then, the Church is that portion of humanity in whom Christ’s royalty is already manifest, who has peace as its privileged manifestation. It is the new Jerusalem, still imperfect because it is yet a pilgrim in history, but able to anticipate in some way the heavenly Jerusalem. Lastly, we can here refer to the Responsorial Psalm 121, belonging to the so-called “Song of Ascents”. It is a hymn of the pilgrims’ joy who, going up toward the holy city and having reached its doors, address the peace-greeting to them: shalom! According to popular etymology Jerusalem is interpreted as a “city of peace”, whose peace the Messiah, Son of David, would have established in the fullness of time. We recognize in Jerusalem the figure of the Church, sacrament of Christ and of his Kingdom.

Dear Cardinal-Brothers, this Psalm expresses well the ardent love song for the Church that you certainly carry in your hearts. You have dedicated your life to the Church’s service, and now you are called to assume in her a duty of utmost responsibility. May the words of the Psalm find full acceptance in you: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”! (v. 6). Prayer for peace and unity constitutes your first and principal mission, so that the Church may be “solid and compact” (v. 3), a sign and instrument of unity for the whole human race (see Lumen Gentium, no. 1). I place, or rather, let us all place your mission under the vigilant protection of the Mother of the Church, Mary Most Holy. To her, united to her Son on Calvary and assumed as Queen at his right hand in glory, we entrust the new Cardinals, the College of Cardinals and the entire Catholic community, committed to sowing in the furrows of history Christ’s Kingdom, the Lord of Life and Prince of Peace.


SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 23 November 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. We know from the Gospels that Jesus refused the title of king when it was meant in the political sense, by the standards of the “rulers of the Gentiles” (Mt 20: 25). On the other hand, during his Passion, he claimed a unique kingship before Pilate, who explicitly asked him “So you are a king?”, and Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king” (Jn 18: 37); however just previously he had declared, “My kingship is not of this world” (Jn 18: 36). Christ’s kingship is in fact a revelation and actuation of that of God the Father, who governs all things with love and justice. The Father entrusted to the Son the mission of giving mankind eternal life by loving it to the point of supreme sacrifice and, at the same time, conferred upon him the power of judging humanity, since he made himself Son of man, like us in all things (see Jn 5: 21-22, 26-27).

Today’s Gospel insists precisely on the universal kingship of Christ the Judge, with the stupendous parable of the Last Judgment, which St Matthew placed immediately before the Passion narrative (25: 31-46). The images are simple, the language is popular, but the message is extremely important: it is the truth about our ultimate destiny and about the criterion by which we will be evaluated. “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25: 35) and so forth. Who does not know this passage? It is part of our civilization. It has marked the history of the peoples of Christian culture: the hierarchy of values, the institutions, the multiple charitable and social organizations. In fact, the Kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but it brings to fulfilment all the good that, thank God, exists in man and in history. If we put love for our neighbour into practice in accordance with the Gospel message, we make room for God’s dominion and his Kingdom is actualized among us. If, instead, each one thinks only of his or her own interests, the world can only go to ruin.

Dear friends, the Kingdom of God is not a matter of honours and appearances but, as St Paul writes, it is “righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rm 14: 17). The Lord has our good at heart, that is, that every person should have life, and that especially the “least” of his children may have access to the banquet he has prepared for all. Thus he has no use for the forms of hypocrisy of those who say: “Lord, Lord” and then neglect his commandments (see Mt 7: 21). In his eternal Kingdom, God welcomes those who strive day after day to put his Word into practice. For this reason the Virgin Mary, the humblest of all creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and sits as Queen at the right of Christ the King. Let us once again entrust ourselves to her heavenly intercession with filial trust, to be able to carry out our Christian mission in the world.


SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 22 November 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King, a Feast established relatively recently but which has deep biblical and theological roots. The title “King”, designating Jesus, is very important in the Gospels and makes possible a complete interpretation of the figure of Jesus and of his mission of salvation. In this regard a progression can be noted: it starts with the expression “King of Israel” and extends to that of universal King, Lord of the cosmos and of history, thus exceeding by far the expectations of the Jewish people. It is yet again the mystery of Jesus Christ’s death and Resurrection that lies at the heart of this process of the revelation of his kingship. When Jesus is hung on the Cross, the priests, scribes and elders mock him saying: “He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him” (Mt 27: 42). In fact, it is precisely as the Son of God that Jesus freely gives himself up to his Passion. The Cross is the paradoxical sign of his kingship, which consists in the loving will of God the Father in response to the disobedience of sin. It is in the very offering of himself in the sacrifice of expiation that Jesus becomes King of the universe, as he himself was to declare when he appeared to the Apostles after the Resurrection: “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mt 28: 18).

But in what does this “power” of Jesus Christ the King consist? It is not the power of the kings or the great people of this world; it is the divine power to give eternal life, to liberate from evil, to defeat the dominion of death. It is the power of Love that can draw good from evil, that can melt a hardened heart, bring peace amid the harshest conflict and kindle hope in the thickest darkness. This Kingdom of Grace is never imposed and always respects our freedom. Christ came “to bear witness to the truth” (Jn 18: 37), as he declared to Pilate: whoever accepts his witness serves beneath his “banner”, according to the image dear to St Ignatius of Loyola. Every conscience, therefore, must make a choice. Who do I want to follow? God or the Evil One? The truth or falsehood? Choosing Christ does not guarantee success according to the world’s criteria but assures the peace and joy that he alone can give us. This is demonstrated, in every epoch, by the experience of numerous men and women who, in Christ’s name, in the name of truth and justice, were able to oppose the enticements of earthly powers with their different masks, to the point that they sealed their fidelity with martyrdom.

Dear brothers and sisters, when the Angel Gabriel brought the announcement to Mary, he predicted that her Son would inherit the throne of David and reign forever (see Lk 1: 32-33). And even before she gave him to the world, the Blessed Virgin believed. Thus she must certainly have wondered what new kind of kingship Jesus’ would be; she came to understand by listening to his words, and especially by closely participating in the mystery of his death on the Cross and in his Resurrection. Let us ask Mary to help us too to follow Jesus, our King, as she did, and to bear witness to him with our entire existence.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe
Sunday, 21 November 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Liturgy of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King of the Universe in the Vatican Basilica has just ended. It was also concelebrated by the 24 new Cardinals created at yesterday’s Consistory.

The Solemnity of Christ the King was established by Pius XI in 1925 and, later, after the Second Vatican Council, it was placed at the close of the liturgical year. The Gospel according to St Luke presents, as in a great painting, the kingship of Jesus at the moment of his Crucifixion. The leaders of the people and the soldiers taunt “the first-born of all creation” (Col 1:15) and put him to the test to see whether he has the power to save himself from death (see Luke 23:35-37).

Yet precisely: “on the Cross, Jesus is exalted to the very ‘height’ of the God who is Love. It is there that he can be ‘known’.... Jesus gives us ‘life’ because he gives us God. He can give God because he himself is one with God” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth (English translation, Doubleday, New York, 2007, pp. 349 and 354 ).

In fact, while the Lord seems to be mistaken because he is between two wrong-doers, one of them, aware of his sins, opens himself to truth, arrives at faith and prays “the King of the Jews”: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42).

From the One who “is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17) the so-called “Good Thief” straight away receives forgiveness and the joy of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43). With these words, Jesus, from the throne of the Cross welcomes every human being with infinite mercy.

St Ambrose comments that this “is a beautiful example of conversion to which one should aspire: forgiveness is very quickly offered to the thief and grace is more abundant than the request; the Lord in fact”, St Ambrose says, “always gives more than is asked for.... Life is being with Christ because where Christ is there is the Kingdom” (Expositio Ev. sec. Lucam X, 121: ccl 14, 379).

Dear Friends, we can also contemplate in Christian art the way of love that the Lord reveals to us and invites us to take. In fact, in the past “in the arrangement of Christian sacred buildings... it became customary to depict the Lord returning as a king — the symbol of hope — at the east end; while the west wall normally portrayed the Last Judgement as a symbol of our responsibility for our lives” (Encyclical Spe Salvi, no. 41): hope in the infinite love of God and commitment to ordering our life in accordance with the love of God.

When we contemplate depictions of Jesus inspired by the New Testament — as an ancient Council teaches — we are led to “understand... the sublimity and the humiliation of the Word of God and... to remember his life in the flesh, his Passion and his salvific death, and the redemption that the world derived from it” (Council in Trullo, [691 or 692], can. 82).

“Yes, we need it, precisely to... become capable of recognizing in the pierced heart of the Crucified One the mystery of God” (J. Ratzinger, Teologia della liturgia: La fondazione sacramentale dell’esistenza cristiana, LEV 2010, p. 69).

Today, the Memorial of the Presentation of Mary at the Temple, let us entrust to the Virgin Mary the new members of the College of Cardinals and our earthly pilgrimage toward eternity.


ORDINARY PUBLIC CONSISTORY
FOR THE CREATION OF NEW CARDINALS

EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION WITH THE NEW CARDINALS
AND
PRESENTATION OF THE CARDINAL’S RING

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Vatican Basilica, Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe
Sunday, 21 November 2010

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the Solemnity of Christ the King we have the joy of gathering round the Lord’s altar with the 24 new Cardinals whom I added to the College of Cardinals yesterday.

I first address to them my cordial greeting, which I extend to the other Cardinals and all the Prelates present, as well as to the distinguished Authorities, the Ambassadors, the priests, the religious and all the faithful who have come from various parts of the world for this happy occasion which has a distinctly universal character,

Many of you will have noticed that the last Public Consistory for the Creation of Cardinals, held in November 2007, was also celebrated on the eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King. Three years have passed, thus, in accordance with the liturgical cycle for Sundays the word of God comes to us in the same Readings from Bible for this important Feast. It takes place on the last Sunday of the liturgical year and, at the end of the itinerary of faith, presents to us the royal Face of Christ, as the Pantocrator in the apse of an ancient basilica.

This coincidence asks us to meditate deeply on the ministry of the Bishop of Rome and on the ministry of the Cardinals linked to it, in the light of the unique Kingship of Jesus, Our Lord.

The primary service of the Successor of Peter is that of the faith. In the New Testament, Peter becomes the “rock” of the Church insofar as he is the bearer of Faith: the “we” of the Church begins with the name of the first man who professed faith in Christ, it begins with his faith; a faith that was at first immature and still “too human”. Then, however, after Easter it matured and made him capable of following Christ even to the point of giving himself; it developed in the belief that Jesus is truly King; that he is so precisely because he remained on the Cross, and in that way gave his life for sinners.

In the Gospel we see that everyone asks Jesus to come down from the Cross. They mock him, but this is also a way of excusing themselves from blame as if to say: it is not our fault that you are hanging on the Cross; it is solely your fault because if you really were the Son of God, the King of the Jews, you would not stay there but would save yourself by coming down from that infamous scaffold.  

Therefore, if you remain there it means that you are wrong and we are right. The tragedy that is played out beneath the Cross of Jesus is a universal tragedy; it concerns all people before God who reveals himself for what he is, namely, Love.

In the crucified Jesus the divinity is disfigured, stripped of all visible glory and yet is present and real. Faith alone can recognize it: the faith of Mary, who places in her heart too this last scene in the mosaic of her Son’s life. She does not yet see the whole, but continues to trust in God, repeating once again with the same abandonment: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord” (see Lk 1:38).

Then there is the faith of the Good Thief: a faith barely outlined but sufficient to assure him salvation: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” . This “with me” is crucial. Yes, it is this that saves him. Of course, the good thief is on the cross like Jesus, but above all he is on the Cross with Jesus. And, unlike the other evildoer and all those who taunt him, he does not ask Jesus to come done from the Cross nor to make him come down. Instead he says: “remember me when you come into your kingdom”.

The Good Thief sees Jesus on the Cross, disfigured and unrecognizable and yet he entrusts himself to him as to a king, indeed as to the King. The good thief believes what was written on the tablet over Jesus’ head: “The King of the Jews”. He believed and entrusted himself. For this reason he was already, immediately, in the “today” of God, in Paradise, because Paradise is this: being with Jesus, being with God.

So here, dear Brothers, is the first and fundamental message that the word of God clearly tells us today: to me, the Successor of Peter, and to you, Cardinals.

It calls us to be with Jesus, like Mary, and not to ask him to come down from the Cross but rather to stay there with him. And by reason of our ministry we must do this not only for ourselves but for the whole Church, for the whole People of God.

We know from the Gospels that the Cross was the critical point of the faith of Simon Peter and of the other Apostles. It is clear and it could not be otherwise: they were men and thought “according to men”; they could not tolerate the idea of a crucified Messiah.

Peter’s “conversion” is fully achieved when he stops wanting “to save” Jesus and accepts to be saved by him. He gives up wanting to save Jesus from the Cross and allows Jesus’ Cross to save him.

“I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22:32), the Lord says. Peter’s ministry consists first of all in his faith, a faith that Jesus immediately recognizes, from the outset, as genuine, as a gift of the heavenly Father; but a faith that must pass through the scandal of the Cross to become authentic, truly “Christian”, to become a “rock” on which Jesus can build his Church.

Participation in the lordship of Christ is only brought about in practice in the sharing of his self-abasement, with the Cross. My ministry too, dear Brothers, and consequently also yours, consists wholly of faith. Jesus can build his Church on us as long as that true, Paschal faith is found in us, that faith which does not seek to make Jesus come down from the Cross but entrusts itself to him on the Cross. In this regard the true place of the Vicar of Christ is the Cross, it lies in persisting in the obedience of the Cross.

This ministry is difficult because it is not in line with the human way of thinking — with that natural logic which, moreover, continues to be active within us too. But this is and always remains our primary service, the service of faith that transforms the whole of life: believing that Jesus is God, that he is the King precisely because he reached that point, because he loved us to the very end.

And we must witness and proclaim this paradoxical kingship as he, the King, did, that is, by following his own way and striving to adopt his same logic, the logic of humility and service, of the ear of wheat which dies to bear fruit.

The Pope and the Cardinals are called to be profoundly united first of all in this: all together, under the guidance of the Successor of Peter, they must remain in the lordship of Christ, thinking and working in accordance with the logic of the Cross — and this is never easy or predictable.

In this we must be united and we are, because it is not an idea or a strategy that unites us but love of Christ and his Holy Spirit. The effectiveness of our service to the Church, the Bride of Christ, depends essentially on this, on our fidelity to the divine kingship of crucified Love.

For this reason on the ring that I am consigning to you today, the seal of your nuptial covenant with the Church, is the image of the Crucifixion. And for the same reason the colour of your robe alludes to blood, the symbol of life and of love. The Blood of Christ which, according to an ancient iconography, Mary collected from the pierced side of the Son, who died on the Cross; and that the Apostle John contemplated while it gushed out with water, according to the prophetic Scriptures.

Dear Brothers, it is from this that our wisdom derives: sapientia Crucis. On this St Paul reflected profoundly. He was the first to outline Christian thought in an organized way, centred precisely on the paradox of the Cross (see 1 Cor 1:18-25; 2:1-8).

In the Letter to the Colossians, of which today’s Liturgy proposes the Christological Hymn — the Pauline reflection, made fertile by the grace of the Spirit, already reaches an impressive level of synthesis in expressing an authentic Christian concept of God and of the world, of personal and universal salvation; and it is all centred on Christ, the Lord of hearts, of history and of the cosmos: “In him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in Heaven, making peace by the blood of his Cross” (Col 1:19-20).

Dear Brothers, we are always called to proclaim this to the world: Christ “the image of the invisible God”, Christ “the first-born of all creation”, and “the first-born from the dead”, as the Apostle writes, so “that in everything he might be pre-eminent” (Col 1:15. 18). The primacy of Peter and his Successors is totally at the service of this primacy of Jesus Christ, the one Lord; at the service of his Kingdom, that is, of his Kingship of love, so that it might come and be spread, renew men and things, transform the earth and cause peace and justice to germinate in it.

The Church fits into this plan that transcends history and, at the same time, is revealed and fulfilled in it, as the “Body” of which Christ is “the Head” (see Col 1:18).

In the Letter to the Ephesians, St Paul speaks explicitly of the lordship of Christ and sets it in relation to the Church. He formulates a prayer of praise to the “greatness of the power of God” who raised Christ and made him the universal Lord and concludes, “and he [God] has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:22-23).

Here, Paul attributes to the Church the very word “fullness”, which applies to Christ, for participation: the body, in fact, participates in the fullness of the Head. This, Venerable Brother Cardinals — and I am also addressing all of you who share with us the grace of being Christian — this is what our joy is: participating, in the Church in the fullness of Christ through the obedience of the Cross, of being qualified “to share in the inheritance of the saints in light”, of being “transferred” to the Kingdom of the Son of God (see Col 1:12-13).

For this reason we live in perennial thanksgiving, and even in trials do not lack the joy and peace that Christ bequeathed to us as a guarantee of his Kingdom which already exists among us, who wait with faith and hope, and of which we have a foretaste in love. Amen.


APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO BENIN

18-20 NOVEMBER 2011

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Amitié Stadium, Cotonou, Sunday, 20 November 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the conclusion of this solemn Eucharistic celebration, having been made one in Christ, let us turn with confidence to his Mother and pray the Angelus. Now that I have consigned the Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus, I wish to entrust to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Africa, the new chapter now opening for the Church on this continent, asking her to accompany the future evangelization of Africa as a whole and, in particular, of this land of Benin.

Mary joyfully accepted the Lord’s invitation to become the Mother of Jesus. May she show us how to respond to the mission which God entrusts to us today! Mary is that earthly woman who received the privilege of becoming the Mother of the Saviour of the world. Who better than she knows the value and beauty of human life? May we never cease to be amazed before the gift of life! Who better than she knows our needs as men and women who are still pilgrims on this earth? At the foot of the Cross, united to her crucified Son, she is the Mother of Hope. This hope enables us to take up our daily lives with the power bestowed by the truth which is made known in Jesus.

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Africa, this land which sheltered the Holy Family, may you continue to cultivate Christian family values. At a time when so many families are separated, in exile, grief-stricken as a result of unending conflicts, may you be artisans of reconciliation and hope. With Mary, Our Lady of the Magnificat, may you always abide in joy. May this joy remain deep within hearts of your families and your countries!

In the words of the Angelus, let us now turn to our beloved Mother. Before her let us place the intentions of our hearts. Let us now pray to her for Africa and for the whole world.


APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO BENIN

18-20 NOVEMBER 2011

HOLY MASS AND CONSIGNMENT
OF THE POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION  
TO THE BISHOPS OF AFRICA

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Amitié Stadium, Cotonou, Sunday, 20 November 2011

Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Following in the footsteps of my blessed predecessor Pope John Paul II, it is a great joy for me to visit for the second time this dear continent of Africa, coming among you, in Benin, to address to you a message of hope and of peace. I would like first of all to express my cordial gratitude to Archbishop Antoine Ganyé Cotonou, for his words of welcome and to greet the Bishops of Benin, as well as the Cardinals and Bishops from various African countries and from other continents. To all of you, dear brothers and sisters, who have come to this Mass celebrated by the Successor of Peter, I offer my warm greetings. I am thinking certainly of the faithful of Benin, but also of those from other French-speaking countries, such as Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger and others. Our Eucharistic celebration on the Solemnity of Christ the King is an occasion to give thank to God for the one hundred and fifty years that have passed since the beginnings of the evangelization of Benin; it is also an occasion to express our gratitude to him for the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of African Bishops which was held in Rome a few months ago.

The Gospel which we have just heard tells us that Jesus, the Son of Man, the ultimate judge of our lives, wished to appear as one who hungers and thirsts, as a stranger, as one of those who are naked, sick or imprisoned, ultimately, of those who suffer or are outcast; how we treat them will be taken as the way we treat Jesus himself. We do not see here a simple literary device, or a simple metaphor. Jesus’s entire existence is an example of it. He, the Son of God, became man, he shared our existence, even down to the smallest details, he became the servant of the least of his brothers and sisters. He who had nowhere to lay his head, was condemned to death on a cross. This is the King we celebrate!

Without a doubt this can appear a little disconcerting to us. Today, like two thousand years ago, accustomed to seeing the signs of royalty in success, power, money and ability, we find it hard to accept such a king, a king who makes himself the servant of the little ones, of the most humble, a king whose throne is a cross. And yet, the Scriptures tell us, in this is the glory of Christ revealed; it is in the humility of his earthly existence that he finds his power to judge the world. For him, to reign is to serve! And what he asks of us is to follow him along the way, to serve, to be attentive to the cry of the poor, the weak, the outcast. The baptized know that the decision to follow Christ can entail great sacrifices, at times even the sacrifice of one’s life. However, as Saint Paul reminds us, Christ has overcome death and he brings us with him in his resurrection. He introduces us to a new world, a world of freedom and joy. Today, so much still binds us to the world of the past, so many fears hold us prisoners and prevent us from living in freedom and happiness. Let us allow Christ to free us from the world of the past! Our faith in him, which frees us from all our fears and miseries, gives us access to a new world, a world where justice and truth are not a byword, a world of interior freedom and of peace with ourselves, with our neighbours and with God. This is the gift God gave us at our baptism!

“Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34). Let us receive this word of blessing which the Son of Man will, on the Day of Judgement, address to those who have recognized his presence in the lowliest of their brethren, with a heart free and full of the love of the Lord! Brothers and sisters, the words of the Gospel are truly words of hope, because the King of the universe has drawn near to us, the servant of the least and lowliest. Here I would like to greet with affection all those persons who are suffering, those who are sick, those affected by AIDS or by other illnesses, to all those forgotten by society. Have courage! The Pope is close to you in his thoughts and prayers. Have courage! Jesus wanted to identify himself with the poor, with the sick; he wanted to share your suffering and to see you as his brothers and sisters, to free you from every affliction, from all suffering. Every sick person, every poor person deserves our respect and our love because, through them, God shows us the way to heaven.

This morning, I invite you once again to rejoice with me. One hundred and fifty years ago the cross of Christ was raised in your country, and the Gospel was proclaimed for the first time. Today, we give thanks to God for the work accomplished by the missionaries, by the “apostolic workers” who first came from among you or from distant lands, bishops, priests, men and women religious, catechists, all those who, both yesterday and today, enabled the growth of the faith in Jesus Christ on the African continent. I honour here the memory of the venerable Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, an example of faith and of wisdom for Benin and for the entire African continent.

Dear brothers and sisters, everyone who has received this marvellous gift of faith, this gift of an encounter with the risen Lord, feels in turn the need to proclaim it to others. The Church exists to proclaim this Good News! And this duty is always urgent! After 150 years, many are those who have not heard the message of salvation in Christ! Many, too, are those who are hesitant to open their hearts to the word of God! Many are those whose faith is weak, whose way of thinking, habits and lifestyle do not know the reality of the Gospel, and who think that seeking selfish satisfaction, easy gain or power is the ultimate goal of human life. With enthusiasm, be ardent witnesses of the faith which you have received! Make the loving face of the Saviour shine in every place, in particular before the young, who search for reasons to live and hope in a difficult world!

The Church in Benin has received much from her missionaries: she must in turn carry this message of hope to people who do not know or who no longer know the Lord Jesus. Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to be concerned for evangelization in your country, and among the peoples of your continent and the whole world. The recent Synod of Bishops for Africa stated this in no uncertain terms: the man of hope, the Christian, cannot be uninterested in his brothers and sisters. This would be completely opposed to the example of Jesus. The Christian is a tireless builder of communion, peace and solidarity - gifts which Jesus himself has given us. By being faithful to him, we will cooperate in the realization of God’s plan of salvation for humanity.

Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you, therefore, to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ, to be authentically converted to him. He alone gives us the true life and can liberate us for all our fears and sluggishness, from all our anguish. Rediscover the roots of your existence in the baptism which you received and which makes you children of God! May Jesus Christ give you strength to live as Christians and to find ways to transmit generously to new generations what you have received from your fathers in faith! AKLUNƆ NI KƆN FƐNU TƆN LƐ DO MI JI [Fon: May the Lord fill you with his graces!]

On this feast day, we rejoice together in the reign of Christ the King over the whole world. He is the one who removes all that hinders reconciliation, justice and peace. We are reminded that true royalty does not consist in a show of power, but in the humility of service; not in the oppression of the weak, but in the ability to protect them and to lead them to life in abundance (see Jn 10:10). Christ reigns from the Cross and, with his arms open wide, he embraces all the peoples of the world and draws them into unity. Through the Cross, he breaks down the walls of division, he reconciles us with each other and with the Father. We pray today for the people of Africa, that all may be able to live in justice, peace and the joy of the Kingdom of God (see Rom 14:17). With these sentiments I affectionately greet all the English-speaking faithful who have come from Ghana and Nigeria and neighbouring countries. May God bless all of you!

Queridos irmãos e irmãs da África lusófona que me ouvis, a todos dirijo a minha saudação e convido a renovar a vossa decisão de pertencer a Cristo e de servir o seu Reino de reconciliação, de justiça e de paz. O seu Reino pode ser posto em perigo no nosso coração. Aqui Deus cruza-se com a nossa liberdade. Nós – e só nós – podemos impedi-Lo de reinar sobre nós mesmos e, em consequência, tornar difícil a sua realeza sobre a família, a sociedade e a história. Por causa de Cristo, tantos homens e mulheres se opuseram, vitoriosamente, às tentações do mundo para viver fielmente a sua fé, às vezes mesmo até ao martírio. A seu exemplo, amados pastores e fiéis, sede sal e luz de Cristo na terra africana! Amen.

[Dear brothers and sisters of the Portuguese-speaking nations of Africa who are listening to me! I greet all of you and I invite you to renew your decision to belong to Christ and to serve his Kingdom of reconciliation, justice and peace. His Kingdom can be threatened in our hearts. There God comes face to face with our freedom. We – and we alone – can prevent him from reigning over us and consequently obstructing his Lordship over our families, society and history. Because of Christ, many men and women successfully opposed the temptations of the world in order to live their faith truly, even to martyrdom. Dear pastors and faithful, following their example, be the salt and light of Christ, in the land of Africa! Amen.]


BENEDETTO XVI

ANGELUS

St. Peter’s Square, Sunday, 25 November 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Church today is celebrating Our Lord Jesus Christ as as King of the Universe. This Solemnity comes at the end of the liturgical year and sums up the mystery of Jesus “firstborn from the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth” (Collect, Year B), broadening our gaze towards the complete fulfilment of the Kingdom of God, when God will be everything to every one (see 1 Cor 15:28). St Cyril of Jerusalem said: “We preach not one advent only of Christ, but a second also, far more glorious than the former. For the former gave a view of his patience; but the latter brings with it the crown of a divine kingdom... in his second, He comes attended by a host of Angels, receiving glory” (Catechesis XVI, 1, Illuminandorum, De secundo Christi adventu: pg 33, 869 a).

Jesus’ entire mission consisted in proclaiming the Kingdom of God and putting it into practice among human beings with signs and miracles. However, as the Second Vatican Council recalls “this kingdom shone out before men ... in the presence of Christ” (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, no. 5) and he established it through his death on the Cross and his Resurrection, with which he manifested himself as Lord and Messiah and Priest for ever.

This Kingdom of Christ has been entrusted to the Church which is its “seed” and its “beginning” and has the task of proclaiming it and spreading it among the peoples, with the power of the Holy Spirit (see ibid.). At the end of the established time, the Lord will consign the Kingdom to God the Father and will present to him all those who have lived in accordance with his commandment of love.

Dear friends, we are all called to extend God’s saving action, converting to the Gospel, following with determination the King who did not come to be served but to serve and to bear witness to the truth (see Mk 10:45; Jn 18:37). In this perspective I invite everyone to pray for the six new Cardinals whom I created yesterday that the Holy Spirit will strengthen them in faith and in charity and fill them with his gifts, so that they may live their new responsibilities as a further dedication to Christ and to his Kingdom. These new members of the College of Cardinals represent well the universal dimension of the Church: they are Pastors of the Church in Lebanon, in India, in Nigeria, in Colombia, and in the Philippines, and one of them has been for many years in the service of the Holy See.

Let us invoke the protection of Mary Most Holy upon each one of them and on the faithful entrusted to their service. May the Virgin help us all to live the present time in expectation of the Lord’s second coming, forcefully imploring God: “Thy Kingdom come”, and undertaking those works of light which bring us ever closer to heaven, in the awareness that, in the turbulent events of history God continues to build his Kingdom of love.


ORDINARY PUBLIC CONSISTORY
FOR THE CREATION OF NEW CARDINALS

HOLY MASS WITH THE NEW CARDINALS

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Vatican Basilica, Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Sunday, 25 November 2012

Your Eminences,
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, is enriched by our reception into the College of Cardinals of six new members whom, following tradition, I have invited to celebrate the Eucharist with me this morning. I greet each of them most cordially and I thank Cardinal James Michael Harvey for the gracious words which he addressed to me in the name of all. I greet the other Cardinals and Bishops present, as well as the distinguished civil Authorities, Ambassadors, priests, religious and all the faithful, especially those coming from the Dioceses entrusted to the pastoral care of the new Cardinals.

In this final Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church invites us to celebrate the Lord Jesus as King of the Universe. She calls us to look to the future, or more properly into the depths, to the ultimate goal of history, which will be the definitive and eternal kingdom of Christ. He was with the Father in the beginning, when the world was created, and he will fully manifest his lordship at the end of time, when he will judge all mankind. Today’s three readings speak to us of this kingdom. In the Gospel passage which we have just heard, drawn from the Gospel of Saint John, Jesus appears in humiliating circumstances – he stands accused – before the might of Rome. He had been arrested, insulted, mocked, and now his enemies hope to obtain his condemnation to death by crucifixion. They had presented him to Pilate as one who sought political power, as the self-proclaimed King of the Jews. The Roman procurator conducts his enquiry and asks Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” (Jn 18:33). In reply to this question, Jesus clarifies the nature of his kingship and his messiahship itself, which is no worldly power but a love which serves. He states that his kingdom is in no way to be confused with a political reign: “My kingship is not of this world … is not from the world” (v. 36).

Jesus clearly had no political ambitions. After the multiplication of the loaves, the people, enthralled by the miracle, wanted to take him away and make him their king, in order to overthrow the power of Rome and thus establish a new political kingdom which would be considered the long-awaited kingdom of God. But Jesus knows that God’s kingdom is of a completely different kind; it is not built on arms and violence. The multiplication of the loaves itself becomes both the sign that he is the Messiah and a watershed in his activity: henceforth the path to the Cross becomes ever clearer; there, in the supreme act of love, the promised kingdom, the kingdom of God, will shine forth. But the crowd does not understand this; they are disappointed and Jesus retires to the mountain to pray in solitude, to pray with the Father (see Jn 6:1-15). In the Passion narrative we see how even the disciples, though they had shared Jesus’ life and listened to his words, were still thinking of a political kingdom, brought about also by force. In Gethsemane, Peter had unsheathed his sword and began to fight, but Jesus stopped him (see Jn 18:10-11). He does not wish to be defended by arms, but to accomplish the Father’s will to the end, and to establish his kingdom not by armed conflict, but by the apparent weakness of life-giving love. The kingdom of God is a kingdom utterly different from earthly kingdoms.

That is why, faced with a defenceless, weak and humiliated man, as Jesus was, a man of power like Pilate is taken aback; taken aback because he hears of a kingdom and servants. So he asks an apparently odd question: “So you are a king?” What sort of king can such a man as this be? But Jesus answers in the affirmative: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice” (18:37). Jesus speaks of kings and kingship, yet he is not referring to power but to truth. Pilate fails to understand: can there be a power not obtained by human means? A power which does not respond to the logic of domination and force? Jesus came to reveal and bring a new kingship, that of God; he came to bear witness to the truth of a God who is love (see 1 Jn 4:8,16), who wants to establish a kingdom of justice, love and peace (see Preface). Whoever is open to love hears this testimony and accepts it with faith, to enter the kingdom of God.

We find this same perspective in the first reading we heard. The prophet Daniel foretells the power of a mysterious personage set between heaven and earth: “Behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (7:13-14). These words present a king who reigns from sea to sea, to the very ends of the earth, possessed of an absolute power which will never be destroyed. This vision of the prophet, a messianic vision, is made clear and brought to fulfilment in Christ: the power of the true Messiah, the power which will never pass away or be destroyed, is not the power of the kingdoms of the earth which rise and fall, but the power of truth and love. In this way we understand how the kingship proclaimed by Jesus in the parables and openly and explicitly revealed before the Roman procurator, is the kingship of truth, the one which gives all things their light and grandeur.

In the second reading, the author of the Book of Revelation states that we too share in Christ’s kingship. In the acclamation addressed “to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood”, he declares that Christ “has made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” (1:5-6). Here too it is clear that we are speaking of a kingdom based on a relationship with God, with truth, and not a political kingdom. By his sacrifice, Jesus has opened for us the path to a profound relationship with God: in him we have become true adopted children and thus sharers in his kingship over the world. To be disciples of Jesus, then, means not letting ourselves be allured by the worldly logic of power, but bringing into the world the light of truth and God’s love. The author of the Book of Revelation broadens his gaze to include Jesus’ second coming to judge mankind and to establish forever his divine kingdom, and he reminds us that conversion, as a response to God’s grace, is the condition for the establishment of this kingdom (see 1:7). It is a pressing invitation addressed to each and all: to be converted ever anew to the kingdom of God, to the lordship of God, of Truth, in our lives. We invoke the kingdom daily in the prayer of the “Our Father” with the words “Thy kingdom come”; in effect we say to Jesus: Lord, make us yours, live in us, gather together a scattered and suffering humanity, so that in you all may be subjected to the Father of mercy and love.

To you, dear and venerable Brother Cardinals – I think in particular of those created yesterday – is is entrusted this demanding responsibility: to bear witness to the kingdom of God, to the truth. This means working to bring out ever more clearly the priority of God and his will over the interests of the world and its powers. Become imitators of Jesus, who, before Pilate, in the humiliating scene described by the Gospel, manifested his glory: that of loving to the utmost, giving his own life for those whom he loves. This is the revelation of the kingdom of Jesus. And for this reason, with one heart and one soul, let us pray: Adveniat regnum tuum – Thy kingdom come. Amen. 



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