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Monday, January 27, 2014

0327: Reflections on the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time by Pope Benedict XVI



Entry 0327: Reflections on the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 
by 
Pope Benedict XVI during His Pontificate 



On eight occasions during his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI delivered reflections on the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 29 January 2006, 28 January 2007, 3 February 2008, 1 February 2009, 31 January 2010, 30 January 2011, 29 January 2012, and 3 February 2013. Here are the texts of eight brief reflections delivered on these occasions before the recitation of the Angelus.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 29 January 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Encyclical published last Wednesday, by referring to the primacy of charity in the life of Christians and of the Church, I wanted to recall that the privileged witnesses of this primacy are the Saints, who made their lives a hymn to God-Love despite their thousands of different tones. We celebrate them every day of the year in the liturgy.

I am thinking, for example, of those whom we are commemorating in these days:  the Apostle Paul with his disciples Timothy and Titus, St Angela Merici, St Thomas Aquinas, St John Bosco. These saints are very different:  the first belong to the beginnings of the Church and were missionaries of the first evangelization; in the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas is the model of a Catholic theologian who found in Christ the supreme synthesis of truth and love; in the Renaissance, Angela Merici presented a path of holiness also to those who were living in a secular environment; in the modern epoch, Don Bosco, inflamed with love for Jesus the Good Shepherd, cared for the most underprivileged children and became their father and teacher.

In truth, the Church’s entire history is a history of holiness, animated by the one Love whose source is God. Indeed, only supernatural love, like the love that flows ever new from Christ’s heart, can explain the miraculous flourishing down the centuries of Orders, male and female religious Institutes and other forms of consecrated life.

In the Encyclical, I cited among the Saints most famous for their charity John of God, Camillus of Lellis, Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Giuseppe Cottolengo, Luigi Orione and Teresa of Calcutta (see no. 40).

This array of men and women, molded by the Spirit of Christ who made them models of dedication to the Gospel, leads us to consider the importance of consecrated life as an expression and school of love.

The Second Vatican Council emphasized that the imitation of Christ in chastity, poverty and obedience should be entirely oriented to the achievement of perfect charity (see Perfectae Caritas, no. 1).

Precisely in order to shed light on the importance and value of consecrated life, the Church celebrates this coming 2 February, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, as the Day of Consecrated Life. In the afternoon of that day, just as John Paul II liked to do, I will preside at Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica, to which the consecrated men and women who live in Rome are specially invited. Let us together thank God for the gift of consecrated life and pray that it may continue to be an eloquent sign of his merciful love in the world.

Let us now turn to Mary Most Holy, mirror of love. With her motherly help may Christians and especially consecrated persons walk expeditiously and joyfully on the path of holiness.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 28 January 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today the liturgical calendar commemorates St Thomas Aquinas, the great Doctor of the Church. With his charism as a philosopher and theologian, he offered an effective model of harmony between reason and faith, dimensions of the human spirit that are completely fulfilled in the encounter and dialogue with one another.

According to St Thomas’ thought, human reason, as it were, “breathes”: it moves within a vast open horizon in which it can express the best of itself. When, instead, man reduces himself to thinking only of material objects or those that can be proven, he closes himself to the great questions about life, himself and God and is impoverished.

The relationship between faith and reason is a serious challenge to the currently dominant culture in the Western world, and for this very reason our beloved John Paul II decided to dedicate an Encyclical to it, entitled, precisely, Fides et Ratio - Faith and Reason. Recently, I too returned to this topic in my Discourse to the University of Regensburg.

In fact, the modern development of the sciences brings innumerable positive effects, as we all see, that should always be recognized. At the same time, however, it is necessary to admit that the tendency to consider true only what can be experienced constitutes a limitation of human reason and produces a terrible schizophrenia now acclaimed, which has led to the coexistence of rationalism and materialism, hyper-technology and unbridled instinct.

It is urgent, therefore, to rediscover anew human rationality open to the light of the divine Logos and his perfect revelation which is Jesus Christ, Son of God made man.

When Christian faith is authentic, it does not diminish freedom and human reason; so, why should faith and reason fear one another if the best way for them to express themselves is by meeting and entering into dialogue? Faith presupposes reason and perfects it, and reason, enlightened by faith, finds the strength to rise to knowledge of God and spiritual realities. Human reason loses nothing by opening itself to the content of faith, which, indeed, requires its free and conscious adherence.

St Thomas Aquinas, with farsighted wisdom, succeeded in establishing a fruitful confrontation with the Arab and Hebrew thought of his time, to the point that he was considered an ever up-to-date teacher of dialogue with other cultures and religions. He knew how to present that wonderful Christian synthesis of reason and faith which today too, for the Western civilization, is a precious patrimony to draw from for an effective dialogue with the great cultural and religious traditions of the East and South of the world.

Let us pray that Christians, especially those who work in an academic and cultural context, are able to express the reasonableness of their faith and witness to it in a dialogue inspired by love. Let us ask the Lord for this gift through the intercession of St Thomas Aquinas and above all, through Mary, Seat of Wisdom.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 3 February 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to entrust various intentions to your prayers. In the first place, remembering that yesterday, the liturgical Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, we celebrated the World Day of Consecrated Life, I invite you to pray for those whom Christ calls to follow him more closely with a special consecration. Our gratitude goes to these brothers and sisters of ours who dedicate themselves with the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to the total service of God and the Church. May the Blessed Virgin obtain many holy vocations to the consecrated life, which constitutes a precious treasure for the Church and for the world.

Another prayer intention is offered to us by the Pro-Life Day, being celebrated in Italy today, whose theme is “Serving Life”. I greet and thank all who are gathered here in St Peter’s Square in order to witness to their commitment to defend and promote life and to reassert that “a people’s civilization is measured by its capacity to serve life” (Message of the Italian Bishops’ Conference for the 30th National Pro-Life Day). May each one, according to his own possibilities, professionalism and competence, always feel impelled to love and serve life from its beginning to its natural end. In fact, welcoming human life as a gift to be respected, protected and promoted is a commitment of everyone, all the more so when it is weak and needs care and attention, both before birth and in its terminal phase. I join the Italian Bishops in encouraging all those who, with an effort but also with joy, discreetly and with great dedication, assist elderly or disabled relatives and those who regularly give part of their time to help those people of every age whose lives are tried by so many different forms of poverty.

Let us also pray that Lent, which begins next Wednesday with the Rite of Ashes - which I will celebrate, as I do every year, in the Basilica of Santa Sabina on the Aventine - may be a time of authentic conversion for all Christians, called to bear an increasingly authentic and courageous witness to their faith. Let us entrust these prayer intentions to Our Lady. From yesterday until the end of 11 February, the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 150th anniversary of the Apparitions, it is possible to receive a Plenary Indulgence, applicable to the deceased, on the usual conditions - Confession, Communion and prayer for the Pope’s intentions - and by praying before a blessed image of Our Lady of Lourdes exposed for public veneration. The elderly and the sick may obtain the Indulgence through heartfelt prayer. May Mary, Mother and Star of Hope, light us on our way and make us ever more faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 1st February 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This year, among the Sunday celebrations, the liturgy proposes the Gospel of St Mark for our meditation. A unique characteristic of this Gospel is what is called the “messianic secret”: namely, the fact that, for the moment, Jesus does not want it to be known outside the small group of his disciples that he is the Christ, the Son of God. Moreover, at this point he warns both the Apostles and the sick whom he heals not to reveal his identity to anyone. For example, this Sunday’s Gospel passage (Mk 1: 21-28) tells of a man possessed by the devil who suddenly shouts: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God”. And Jesus commands the spirit: “Quiet! Come out of him!” And immediately the Evangelist notes the unclean spirit, with excruciating cries, came out of that man. Jesus not only drives demons out of people, freeing them from the worst slavery, but prevents the demons themselves from revealing his identity. And he insists on this “secret” because what is at stake is the success of his very mission, on which our salvation depends. Indeed, he knows that to liberate humanity from the dominion of sin he will have to be sacrificed on the Cross as the true Paschal Lamb. The devil, for his part, seeks to dissuade him so as to divert him instead toward the human logic of a powerful and successful Messiah. The Cross of Christ will be the devil’s ruin, and this is why Jesus always taught his disciples that in order to enter into his glory he must suffer much, he must be rejected, condemned and crucified (see Lk 24: 26), for suffering is an integral part of his mission.

Jesus suffered and died on the Cross for love. On close consideration, it was in this way that he gave meaning to our suffering, a meaning that many men and women of every age have understood and made their own, experiencing profound tranquility even in the bitterness of harsh physical and moral trials. And the theme that the Italian Bishops have chosen for their customary Message on the occasion of today’s Pro-Life Day is precisely “The strength of life in suffering”. I wholeheartedly make their words my own, in which is seen the love of Pastors for their people and their courage in proclaiming the truth the courage to say clearly, for example, that euthanasia is a false solution to the drama of suffering, a solution unworthy of man. Indeed, the true response cannot be to put someone to death, however “kindly”, but rather to witness to the love that helps people to face their pain and agony in a human way. We can be certain that no tear, neither of those who are suffering nor of those who are close to them, is lost before God.

The Virgin Mary kept her Son’s secret in her maternal heart and shared in the painful hour of the passion and crucifixion, sustained by her hope in the Resurrection. Let us entrust to her the people who are suffering and those who work every day to support them, serving life in all of its phases: parents, health care workers, priests, religious, researchers, volunteers and many others. Let us pray for them all.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 31 January 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Sunday’s Liturgy we read one of the most beautiful passages of the New Testament and of the whole Bible: the Apostle Paul’s “hymn to love” (1 Cor 12: 31-13: 13). In his First Letter to the Corinthians, after explaining through the image of the body that the different gifts of the Holy Spirit contribute to the good of the one Church, Paul shows the “way” of perfection. It does not, he says, consist in possessing exceptional qualities: in speaking new languages, understanding all the mysteries, having a prodigious faith or doing heroic deeds. Rather, it consists in love agape that is, in authentic love which God revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Love is the “greatest gift” which gives value to all the others and yet it “is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant”; on the contrary it “rejoices in the right” and in the good of others. Whoever truly loves “does not insist on [his or her] own way”, “is “not irritable or resentful” but “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (see 1 Cor 13: 4-7). In the end, when we find ourselves face to face with God, all the other gifts will no longer matter; the only one that will last forever is love, because God is love and we will be like him, in perfect communion with him.

For now, while we are in this world, love is the sign of Christians. It sums up their entire life: what they believe and what they do. This is why at the beginning of my Pontificate I chose to dedicate my first Encyclical to this very subject of love: Deus Caritas Est. As you will remember, this Encyclical is made up of two parts that correspond to the two aspects of charity: its meaning and hence its practice. Love is the essence of God himself, it is the meaning of creation and of history, it is the light that brings goodness and beauty into every person’s existence. At the same time love is, so to speak, the “style” of God and of believers, it is the behavior of those who, in response to God’s love, make their life a gift of themselves to God and to their neighbour. In Jesus Christ these two aspects form a perfect unity: he is Love incarnate. This Love has been fully revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Fixing our gaze on him, we can confess with the Apostle John: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us” (see 1 Jn 4: 16; Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, no. 1).

Dear friends, if we think of the Saints, we recognize the variety of their spiritual gifts and also their human characteristics, but the life of each one of them is a hymn to charity, a living canticle to God’s love! Today, 31 January, we are commemorating in particular St John Bosco, the Founder of the Salesian Family and Patron of young people. In this Year for Priests, I would like to invoke his intercession so that priests may always be educators and fathers to the young; and that, experiencing this pastoral love, many young people may accept the call to give their lives for Christ and for the Gospel. May Mary Help of Christians, a model of love, obtain these graces for us.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 30 January 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Gospel presents the first great discourse that the Lord addresses to the people on the gentle hills encircling the Sea of Galilee. “Seeing the crowds,” St Matthew writes, “he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them” (Mt 5:1-2).

Jesus, the new Moses, “takes his seat on the cathedra of the mountain” (Jesus of Nazareth, Doubleday, New York 2007, p. 65) and proclaims “blessed” the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the merciful, those who hunger for righteousness, the pure in heart, the persecuted (see Mt 5:3-10). It is not a new ideology, but a teaching that comes from on high and touches the human condition, the condition that the Lord, in becoming flesh, wished to assume in order to save it.

Therefore “the Sermon on the Mount is addressed to the entire world, the entire present and future, and yet it demands discipleship and can be understood and lived out only by following Jesus and accompanying him on his journey” (Jesus of Nazareth, p. 69).

The Beatitudes are a new programme of life, to free oneself from the false values of the world and to open oneself to the true goods, present and future. Indeed, when God comforts, he satisfies the hunger for righteousness, he wipes away the tears of those who mourn, which means that, as well as compensating each one in a practical way, he opens the Kingdom of Heaven. “The Beatitudes are the transposition of the Cross and Resurrection into discipleship” (ibid., p. 74). They mirror the life of the Son of God who let himself even be persecuted and despised until he was condemned to death so that salvation might be given to men and women.

An ancient hermit says: “The Beatitudes are gifts of God and we must say a great ‘thank you’ to him for them and for the rewards that derive from them, namely the Kingdom of God in the century to come and consolation here; the fullness of every good and mercy on God’s part … once we have become images of Christ on earth” (Peter of Damascus, In Filocalia, Vol. 3, Turin 1985, p. 79).

The Gospel of the Beatitudes is commented on with the actual history of the Church, the history of Christian holiness, because, as St Paul writes, “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are” (1 Cor 1:27-28).

For this reason the Church has no fear of poverty, contempt or persecution in a society which is often attracted by material well-being and worldly power. St Augustine reminds us that “it serves nothing to suffer these evils, but rather to bear them in the Name of Jesus, not only with a serene soul but also with joy” (see De sermone Domini in monte, i, 5,13: ccl 35, 13).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Virgin Mary, the Blessed par excellence, asking her for the strength to seek the Lord (see Zeph 2:3) and to follow him always, with joy, on the path of the Beatitudes.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St. Peter’s Square, Sunday, 29 January 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday’s Gospel (Mk 1:21-28) presents to us Jesus, who was preaching on the Sabbath in the Synagogue of Capernaum, the little town on the Sea of Galilee where Peter and his brother Andrew lived. His teaching, which gave rise to wonder among the people, was followed by the deliverance of “a man with an unclean spirit” (v. 23), who recognized Jesus as “the Holy One of God”, that is, the Messiah. In a short time his fame spread across the region which he passed through proclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing the sick of every kind: words and action. St John Chrysostom pointed out that the Lord “varies the mode of profiting his hearers, after miracles entering on words, and again from the instruction by his words passing to miracles” (Hom. in Matthæum 25, 1: PG 57, 328).

The words Jesus addresses to the people immediately give access to the will of the Father and to the truth about themselves. This was not the case for the scribes who instead had to make an effort to interpret the Sacred Scriptures with countless reflections. Moreover Jesus united the efficacy of the word with the efficacy of the signs of deliverance from evil. St Athanasius notes that “for his charging evil spirits and their being driven forth, this deed is not of man, but of God”; indeed the Lord “drove away from men all diseases and infirmities”.... Those “who saw his power... will no longer doubt whether this be the Son and Wisdom and Power of God?” (Oratio de Incarnatione Verbi 18,19: PG 25, 128 BC. 129 B).

The divine authority is not a force of nature. It is the power of the love of God that creates the universe and, becoming incarnate in the Only-Begotten Son, descending into our humanity, heals the world corrupted by sin. Romano Guardini wrote: “Jesus’ entire existence is the translation of power into humility... here is the sovereignty which lowers itself into the form of a servant” (Il Potere, Brescia 1999, 141-142).

Authority, for human beings, often means possession, power, dominion and success. Instead for God authority means service, humility and love; it means entering into the logic of Jesus who stoops to wash his disciples’ feet (see Jn 13:5), who seeks man’s true good, who heals wounds, who is capable of a love so great that he gives his life, because he is Love. In one of her Letters St. Catherine of Siena wrote: “It is necessary for us to see and know, in truth, with the light of the faith, that God is supreme and eternal Love and cannot want anything but our good” (Ep. 13 in: Le Lettere, vol. 3, Bologna 1999, 206).

Dear friends, next Thursday, 2 February, we shall celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the World Day of Consecrated Life. Let us invoke Mary Most Holy with trust so that she may guide our hearts to draw always from divine mercy, which frees and guarantees our humanity, filling it with every grace and benevolence and with the power of love.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 3 February 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Gospel — taken from chapter four of St Luke — is the continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel. Once again we find ourselves in the Synagogue of Nazareth, the village where Jesus grew up, where every knew him and his family. Then, after a period of absence, he returned there in a new way: during the Sabbath liturgy he read a prophecy on the Messiah by Isaiah and announced its fulfilment, making it clear that this word referred to him, that Isaiah had spoken about him. The event puzzled the Nazarenes: on the one hand they “all spoke well of him and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Lk 4:22).

St Mark reported what many were saying: “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him?” (6:2). On the other hand, however, his fellow villagers knew him too well: “He is one like us”, they say, “His claim can only be a presumption (see The Infancy Narratives, English edition, p. 3). “Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Lk 4:22), as if to say “what can a carpenter from Nazareth aspire to?”

Well-acquainted with this imperviousness which confirms the proverb: “no prophet is acceptable in his own country”, to the people in the synagogue Jesus addressed words that resonate like a provocation. He cited two miracles wrought by the great prophets Elijah and Elisha for men who were not Israelites in order to demonstrate that faith is sometimes stronger outside Israel. At this point there was a unanimous reaction. All the people got to their feet and drove him away; and they even tried to push him off a precipice. However, passing through the midst of the angry mob with supreme calmness he went away. At this point it comes naturally to wonder: why ever did Jesus want to stir up this antagonism? At the outset the people admired him and he might perhaps have been able to obtain a certain consensus.... But this is exactly the point: Jesus did not come to seek the agreement of men and women but rather — as he was to say to Pilate in the end — “to bear witness to the truth” (Jn 18:37). The true prophet does not obey others as he does God, and puts himself at the service of the truth, ready to pay in person. It is true that Jesus was a prophet of love, but love has a truth of its own. Indeed, love and truth are two names of the same reality, two names of God.

In today’s liturgy these words of St Paul also ring out: “Love is not... boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right” (1 Cor 13:43-6). Believing in God means giving up our own prejudices and accepting the actual face in which he revealed himself: Jesus of Nazareth the man. And this process also leads to recognizing him and to serving him in others.

On this path Mary’s attitude is enlightening. Who could be more closely acquainted than her with the humanity of Jesus? Yet she was never shocked by him as were his fellow Nazarenes. She cherished this mystery in her heart and was always and ever better able to accept it on the journey of faith, even to the night of the Cross and the full brilliance of the Resurrection. May Mary also always help us to continue faithfully and joyfully on this journey. 



© Copyright 2014 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Monday, January 20, 2014

0326: Reflections on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time by Pope Benedict XVI



Entry 0326: Reflections on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time 
by 
Pope Benedict XVI during His Pontificate 



On eight occasions during his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI delivered reflections on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 22 January 2006, 21 January 2007, 27 January 2008, 25 January 2009, 24 January 2010, 23 January 2011, 22 January 2012, and 27 January 2013. Here are the texts of eight brief reflections delivered before the recitation of the Angelus on these occasions.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 22 January 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday falls in the middle of the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”, celebrated every year from 18-25 January. It is an initiative that began at the start of the last century and which has undergone a positive development, becoming more and more an ecumenical reference point where Christians of the various confessions worldwide pray and reflect on the same biblical text.

The passage chosen this year is taken from Chapter 18 of the Gospel of St Matthew, which refers to some of Jesus’ teachings regarding the community of disciples. Among other things, he affirms:  “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18: 19-20).

How much trust and hope these words of the Lord Jesus inspire! They especially spur Christians to ask God together for that full unity among them, for which Christ himself prayed to the Father with heartfelt insistence during the Last Supper (see Jn 17: 11, 21, 23).

We understand well, therefore, how important it is that we Christians invoke the gift of unity with persevering fidelity. If we do so with faith, we can be sure that our request will be granted. We do not know when or how, as it is not for us to know; but we must not doubt that one day we will be “one”, as Jesus and the Father are united in the Holy Spirit.

The prayer for unity is the soul of the ecumenical movement which, thanks be to God, advances throughout the world. Certainly, difficulties and trials are not lacking; but these too have their spiritual usefulness because they push us to exercise patience and perseverance and to grow in fraternal charity.

God is love, and only if we are converted to him and accept his Word will we all be united in the one Mystical Body of Christ.

The expression “God is love”, in Latin “Deus caritas est”, is the title of my first Encyclical, which will be published this Wednesday, 25 January, Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. I am pleased that it coincides with the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

On that day, I will be going to St Paul’s Basilica to preside at Vespers, in which Representatives of the other churches and ecclesial communities will take part. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, intercede for us.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 21 January 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday occurs during the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”, which, as is well known, is celebrated each year in our hemisphere between 18 and 25 January. The theme for 2007 is a citation from Mark’s Gospel and refers to people’s amazement at the healing of the deaf-mute accomplished by Jesus: “He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak” (Mk 7: 37).

I intend to comment more broadly on this biblical theme this 25 January, the liturgical Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, when at 5: 30 p.m. I will preside at the celebration of Vespers for the conclusion of the “Week of Prayer” in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls. I expect many of you to come to that liturgical encounter because unity is achieved above all by praying, and the more unanimous the prayer, the more pleasing it is to the Lord.

This year the initial project for the “Week”, subsequently adapted by the Joint International Committee, was prepared by the faithful in Umlazi, South Africa, a very poor town where AIDS has acquired pandemic proportions and human hopes are few and far between. But the Risen Christ is hope for everyone. He is so especially for Christians.

As heirs of the divisions that came about in past epochs, on this occasion they have wished to launch an appeal: Christ can do all things, “he makes the deaf hear and the mute speak” (Mk 7: 37). He is capable of imbuing Christians with the ardent desire to listen to the other, to communicate with the other and, together with him, speak the language of reciprocal love.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity thus reminds us that ecumenism is a profound dialogical experience, a listening and speaking to one another, knowing one another better; it is a task within everyone’s reach, especially when it concerns spiritual ecumenism, based on prayer and sharing which is now possible among Christians.

I hope that the longing for unity, expressed in prayer and brotherly collaboration to alleviate human suffering, may spread increasingly in parishes and ecclesial movements as well as among Religious institutes.

I take this opportunity to thank the Ecumenical Commission of the Vicariate of Rome and the city’s parish priests who encourage the faithful to celebrate the “Week”.

More generally, I am grateful to all who pray and work for unity with conviction and constancy in every part of the world. May Mary, Mother of the Church, help all the faithful to allow themselves in their innermost depths to be opened by Christ to reciprocal communication in charity and in truth, to become one heart and one soul (see Acts 4: 32) in him.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 27 January 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s liturgy the Evangelist Matthew, who will accompany us throughout this liturgical year, presents the beginning of Christ’s public mission. It consisted essentially in preaching the Kingdom of God and healing the sick, showing that this Kingdom is close at hand and is already in our midst. Jesus began his preaching in Galilee, the region where he grew up, the “outskirts” in comparison with the heart of the Jewish Nation which was Judea, and in it, Jerusalem. But the Prophet Isaiah had foretold that this land, assigned to the tribes of Zebulun and Napthali, would have a glorious future: the people immersed in darkness would see a great light (see Is 8: 23-9: 2). In Jesus’ time, the term “gospel” was used by Roman emperors for their proclamations. Independently of their content, they were described as “good news” or announcements of salvation, because the emperor was considered lord of the world and his every edict as a portent of good. Thus, the application of this phrase to Jesus’ preaching had a strongly critical meaning, as if to say God, and not the emperor, is Lord of the world, and the true Gospel is that of Jesus Christ.

The “Good News” which Jesus proclaims is summed up in this sentence: “The Kingdom of God - or Kingdom of Heaven - is at hand” (see Mt 4: 17; Mk 1: 15). What do these words mean? They do not of course refer to an earthly region marked out in space and time, but rather to an announcement that it is God who reigns, that God is Lord and that his lordship is present and actual, it is being realized. The newness of Christ’s message, therefore, is that God made himself close in him and now reigns in our midst, as the miracles and healings that he works demonstrate. God reigns in the world through his Son made man and with the power of the Holy Spirit who is called “the finger of God” (Lk 11: 20). Wherever Jesus goes the Creator Spirit brings life, and men and women are healed of diseases of body and spirit. God’s lordship is thus manifest in the human being’s integral healing. By this, Jesus wanted to reveal the Face of the true God, the God who is close, full of mercy for every human being; the God who makes us a gift of life in abundance, his own life. The Kingdom of God is therefore life that asserts itself over death, the light of truth that dispels the darkness of ignorance and lies.

Let us pray to Mary Most Holy that she will always obtain for the Church the same passion for God’s Kingdom which enlivened the mission of Jesus Christ: a passion for God, for his lordship of love and life; a passion for man, encountered in truth with the desire to give him the most precious treasure: the love of God, his Creator and Father.


FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF ST PAUL
AND CONCLUSION OF THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 25 January 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Gospel this Sunday the words of Jesus’ first preaching in Galilee resound: “This is the time of fulfilment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1: 15). And precisely today, 25 January, is the memorial of the “Conversion of St Paul”. It is a happy coincidence, especially in this Pauline Year, thanks to which we can understand the true significance of evangelical conversion metanoia by looking at the experience of the Apostle. In truth, in Paul’s case, some prefer not to use this term because, they say, he was already a believer, rather a fervent Hebrew, and therefore he did not pass from no faith to the faith, from the idols to God, nor did he have to abandon the Hebrew faith to adhere to Christ. Actually, the Apostle’s experience can be the model of every authentic Christian conversion.

Paul’s conversion matured in his encounter with the Risen Christ; it was this encounter that radically changed his life. What happened to him on the road to Damascus is what Jesus asks in today’s Gospel: Saul is converted because, thanks to the divine light, “he has believed in the Gospel”. In this consists his and our conversion: in believing in Jesus dead and risen and in opening to the illumination of his divine grace. In that moment Saul understood that his salvation did not depend on good works fulfilled according to the law, but on the fact that Jesus died also for him the persecutor and has risen. This truth by which every Christian life is enlightened thanks to Baptism completely overturns our way of life. To be converted means, also for each one of us, to believe that Jesus “has given himself for me”, dying on the Cross (see Gal 2: 20) and, risen, lives with me and in me. Entrusting myself to the power of his forgiveness, letting myself be taken by his hand, I can come out of the quicksands of pride and sin, of deceit and sadness, of selfishness and of every false security, to know and live the richness of his love.

Dear friends, the invitation to conversion, confirmed by St Paul’s witness, resounds today, at the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, as particularly important also on the ecumenical level. The Apostle indicates to us the spiritual attitude appropriate to being able to progress along the way of communion. He writes to the Philippians, “It is not that I have reached it yet, or have already finished my course; but I am racing to grasp the prize if possible, since I have been grasped by Christ [Jesus] (3: 12). Certainly, we Christians still have not reached the goal of full unity, but if we let ourselves be continually converted by the Lord Jesus, we will surely reach it. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the one holy Church, obtain for us the gift of a true conversion, so that as soon as possible the desire of Christ “Ut unum sint” will be realized. To you we entrust the prayer meeting at which I will preside this afternoon in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, and in which will participate, as every year, the representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities present at Rome.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 24 January 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Among the biblical readings in today’s Liturgy is the famous text from the First Letters to the Corinthians, in which St Paul compares the Church to a human body. The Apostle writes: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body Jews or Greeks, slaves or free and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12: 12-13). The Church is perceived as a body, of which Christ is the head, and with him she forms a whole. Yet what the Apostle is eager to communicate is the idea of unity among the multiplicity of charisms, which are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to these, the Church appears as a rich and vital organism not uniform fruit of the one Spirit who leads everyone to profound unity, because she welcomes differences without eliminating them and thus bringing about a harmonious unity. She extends the presence of the Risen Lord throughout history, specifically through the Sacraments, the word of God and the charisms and ministries distributed among the community. Therefore, it is in Christ and in the Spirit that the Church is one and holy, that is, that she partakes in an intimate communion that transcends and sustains human intelligence.

I wish to emphasize this aspect as we are currently observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will conclude tomorrow, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. In keeping with tradition, I will celebrate Vespers tomorrow afternoon in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, at which Representatives of other Churches and ecclesial Communities present in Rome will participate. We will ask God for the gift of full unity for all the disciples of Christ and, in particular, in keeping with this year’s theme, we will renew our commitment to be witnesses together of the crucified and Risen Lord (see Lk 24: 48). The communion of Christians, in fact, makes the proclamation of the Gospel more credible and effective, just as Jesus himself affirmed while praying to the Father on the eve of his death: “That they may all be one... so that the world may believe” (Jn 17: 21).

In conclusion, dear friends, I wish to recall the figure of St Francis de Sales, whom the Liturgy commemorates on 24 January. Born in Savoy in 1567, he studied law in Padua and Paris and then, called by the Lord, became a priest. He dedicated himself to preaching and to the spiritual formation of the faithful with great success. He taught that the call to holiness was for everyone and that each one as St Paul says in his comparison of the Church to the body has a place in the Church. St Francis de Sales is the patron Saint of journalists and of the Catholic press. I entrust to his spiritual assistance the Message for World Communications Day, which I sign every year on this occasion and that was presented yesterday at the Vatican.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, obtain that we may always progress in communion, in order to pass on the beauty of all being one in the unity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 23 January 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is being held in these days, from 18 to 25 January. This year its theme is a passage from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles that sums up in a few words the life of the first Christian community of Jerusalem: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). It is very significant that this theme was suggested by the Churches and Christian Communities of Jerusalem, reunited in an ecumenical spirit.

We know how many trials our brothers and sisters of the Holy Land and of the Middle East must face. Their service is therefore all the more precious, strengthened by a witness which in some cases has even gone so far as the sacrifice of their life. Therefore, as we joyfully welcome the ideas offered for reflection by the Communities that live in Jerusalem, we gather round them and this becomes a further factor of communion for all.

Today too, if we Christians are to be in the world a sign and instrument of close union with God and of unity among men we must found our life on these four “hinges”: a life founded on the faith of the Apostles passed on through the living Tradition of the Church, brotherly communion, the Eucharist and prayer. Only in this way, by remaining firmly united to Christ, can the Church carry out her mission effectively, despite the limitations and shortcomings of her members, despite the divisions which the Apostle Paul already had to face in the community of Corinth as the Second Reading from the Bible this Sunday recalls, where he says: “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor 1:10).

In fact, the Apostle knew that in the Christian community of Corinth discord and divisions had developed; therefore, with great firmness he added: “Is Christ divided?” (1:13). By so saying he affirmed that every division in the Church is an offence to Christ; and, at the same time, that it is always in him — the one Head and Lord — that we can find ourselves once again united, through the inexhaustible power of his grace.

Here then is the ever timely appeal of today’s Gospel: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Mt 4:17). The serious commitment of conversion to Christ is the way that leads the Church, in the time that God ordains, to full and visible unity. A number of ecumenical meetings in these days which are increasing everywhere in the world is a sign of this. As well as the presence of various ecumenical Delegations here in Rome, a meeting session of the Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches of the East will begin tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow we shall conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with the solemn celebration of Vespers on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church always go with us on this journey.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St. Peter’s Square, Sunday, 22 January 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday falls in the middle of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which is celebrated from 18 to 25 January. I cordially invite everyone to join in the prayer that Jesus addressed to the Father on the eve of his Passion: “that they may all be one... so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). This year in particular our meditation during the Week of Prayer for Unity refers to a passage of St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, from which the theme was formulated: “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (see 1 Cor 15:51-58). We are called to contemplate Christ’s victory over sin and death, that is, his Resurrection, as an event that radically transforms all who believe in him and gives them access to incorruptible and immortal life. In addition, recognizing and accepting the transforming power of faith in Jesus Christ sustains Christians in the search for full unity among themselves.

This year the resource material for the Week of Prayer for Unity has been prepared by a Polish group. Indeed Poland has lived through a long history of courageously fighting various adversities and time and again has given proof of great determination, motivated by faith. For this reason the words of the above-mentioned theme have special resonance and effectiveness in Poland. Down the centuries Polish Christians have spontaneously perceived a spiritual dimension in their desire for freedom and have understood that true victory can only be achieved if it is accompanied by a profound inner transformation. They remind us that our quest for unity can be realistically conducted if the change takes place within us first of all and if we let God act, if we let ourselves be transformed into the image of Christ, if we enter into new life in Christ who is the true victory.

The visible unity of all Christians is always a task that comes from on high, from God, a task that demands the humility of recognizing our weakness and of receiving the gift. However, to use a phrase which Bl. John Paul II liked to repeat, every gift also becomes a commitment. The unity that comes from God therefore demands of us the daily commitment to open ourselves to each other in charity.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been a central feature in the Church’s ecumenical activity for many decades. The time that we devote to prayer for the full communion of Christ’s disciples will enable us to understand more deeply that we will be transformed by his victory, by the power of his Resurrection.

Next Wednesday, as is the custom, we shall conclude the Week of Prayer with the solemn celebration of Vespers on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls at which representatives of other Churches and Christian Communities will also be present. I expect many of you to come to this liturgical encounter to renew together our prayer to the Lord, the source of unity, with filial trust, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 27 January 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Liturgy brings together two separate passages of Luke’s Gospel and presents them to us. The first (1:1-4) is the Prologue, addressed to a certain “Theophilus”. Since this name in Greek means “friend of God” we can see in him every believer who opens himself to God and wants to know the Gospel. Instead the second passage (4:14-21) presents Jesus who, “in the power of the Spirit”, goes to the Synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath. As a strict observer, the Lord does not disregard the pattern of the weekly liturgy and joins the assembly of his fellow citizens in prayer and in listening to the Scriptures. The ritual provides for the reading of a text from the Torah or the Prophets, followed by a commentary. That day Jesus stood up to read and found a passage from the Prophet Isaiah that begins this way: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted” (61:1-2). Origen’s comment was: “It is no coincidence that he opened the scroll and found the chapter of the reading that prophesies about him, this, too, was the work of God’s providence” (Homilies on the Gospel of Luke, 32, 3). In fact when the reading was over in a silence charged with attention, Jesus said, “Today this scripture has [now] been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). St Cyril of Alexandria says that “today”, placed between the first and the final coming of Christ, is related to the believer’s ability to listen and to repent (see PG 69, 1241). But in an even more radical sense, Jesus himself is “the today” of salvation in history, because he brings to completion the work of redemption. The word “today”, very dear to St Luke (see 19:9, 23:43), brings us back to the Christological title preferred by the Evangelist himself, namely: “Savior” (sōtēr). Already in the infancy narratives, it is present in the words of the Angel to the shepherds: “For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11).

Dear friends, this Gospel passage also challenges us “today”. First of all, it makes us think about how we live Sunday, a day of rest and a day for the family. Above all, it is the day to devote to the Lord, by participating in the Eucharist, in which we are nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ and by his life-giving Word. Second, in our diversified and distracted time, this Gospel passage invites us to ask ourselves whether we are able to listen. Before we can speak of God and with God we must listen to him, and the liturgy of the Church is the “school” of this listening to the Lord who speaks to us. Finally, he tells us that every moment can be the propitious “day” for our conversion. Every day (kathçmeran) can become the today of our salvation, because salvation is a story that is ongoing for the Church and for every disciple of Christ. This is the Christian meaning of “carpe diem”: seize the day in which God is calling you to give you salvation!

May the Virgin Mary always be our model and our guide in knowing how to recognize and welcome the presence of God our Savior and of all humanity every day of our lives. 



© Copyright 2014 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Monday, January 13, 2014

0325: Reflections on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time by Pope Benedict XVI



Entry 0325: Reflections on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time 
by 
Pope Benedict XVI during His Pontificate 



On eight occasions during his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI delivered reflections on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 15 January 2006, 14 January 2007, 20 January 2008, 18 January 2009, 17 January 2010, 16 January 2011, 15 January 2012, and 20 January 2013. Here are the texts of eight brief reflections delivered on these occasions before the recitation of the Angelus.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 15 January 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Last Sunday, in which we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord, the Ordinary Time of the liturgical year began. The beauty of this season lies in the fact that it invites us to live our ordinary life as a journey of holiness, that is, of faith and friendship with Jesus continually discovered and rediscovered as Teacher and Lord, the Way, the Truth and the Life of man.

This is what John’s Gospel suggests to us in today’s liturgy when it presents the first meeting between Jesus and some of those who were to become his Apostles. They had been disciples of John the Baptist and John himself directed them to Jesus when, after baptizing him in the Jordan, he pointed him out as “the Lamb of God” (Jn 1: 36).

Two of his disciples then followed the Messiah who asked them:  “What are you looking for?” The two asked him:  “Teacher, where do you stay?” And Jesus answered:  “Come and see”, that is, he invited them to follow him and stay with him for a while. They were so impressed in the few hours that they spent with Jesus that one of them, Andrew, said to his brother Simon:  “We have found the Messiah.” Here are two especially important words:  “seek” and “find.”

From the page of today’s Gospel, we can take these two words and find a fundamental instruction in them for the New Year:  we would like it to be a time when we renew our spiritual journey with Jesus, in the joy of ceaselessly looking for and finding him. Indeed, the purest joy lies in the relationship with him, encountered, followed, known and loved, thanks to a constant effort of mind and heart. To be a disciple of Christ:  for a Christian this suffices. Friendship with the Teacher guarantees profound peace and serenity to the soul even in the dark moments and in the most arduous trials. When faith meets with dark nights, in which the presence of God is no longer “felt” or “seen”, friendship with Jesus guarantees that in reality nothing can ever separate us from his love (see Rom 8: 39).

To seek and find Christ, the inexhaustible source of truth and life:  the Word of God asks us to take up, at the beginning of the New Year, this never-ending journey of faith. We too ask Jesus:  “Teacher, where do you stay?” and he answers us:  “Come and see.” For the believer it is always a ceaseless search and a new discovery, because Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever, but we, the world and history, are never the same, and he comes to meet us to give us his communion and the fullness of life. Let us ask the Virgin Mary to help us to follow Jesus, savoring each day the joy of penetrating deeper and deeper into his mystery.


WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 14 January 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees is being celebrated this Sunday. For the occasion, I have addressed to all people of good will and to Christian communities in particular a special Message on The migrant family.

We can look to the Holy Family of Nazareth, icon of all families, because it reflects the image of God cherished in the heart of every human family, even when it is weakened and at times disfigured by life’s trials.

The Evangelist Matthew recounts that shortly after Jesus’ birth, St Joseph was forced to flee to Egypt, taking the Child and his Mother with him, in order to escape King Herod’s persecution (see Mt 2: 13-15).

In the drama of the Family of Nazareth we perceive the sorrowful plight of so many migrants, especially refugees, exiles, displaced people, evacuees and the persecuted. We recognize in particular the difficulties of the migrant family: hardship, humiliation, poverty and fragility.

The phenomenon of human mobility is actually vast and diversified. According to recent calculations by the United Nations, migrants, due to financial reasons, amount today to almost 200 million, approximately 9 million are refugees and about 2 million, international students.

We must add to this large number of brothers and sisters the internally displaced and those whose situation is illegal, bearing in mind that in one way or another each one of them depends on a family.

It is therefore important to protect migrants and their families with the help of specific legislative, juridical and administrative protection, and also by means of a network of services, consultation centers and structures that provide social and pastoral assistance.

I hope that a balanced management of migratory flows and of human mobility in general will soon be achieved so as to benefit the entire human family, starting with practical measures that encourage legal emigration and the reunion of families, and paying special attention to women and minors.

Indeed, the human person must always be the focal point in the vast field of international migration. Only respect for the human dignity of all migrants, on the one hand, and recognition by the migrants themselves of the values of the society that has taken them in, on the other, enable families to be properly integrated into the social, economic and political systems of the host nation.

Dear friends, the reality of migration should never be viewed solely as a problem, but also and above all as a great resource for humanity’s development.

Moreover, the migrant family is in a special way a resource as long as it is respected as such; it must not suffer irreparable damage but must be able to stay united or to be reunited and carry out its mission as the cradle of life and the primary context where the human person is welcomed and educated.

Let us ask the Lord for this together, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Frances Xavier Cabrini, Patroness of migrants.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 20 January 2008

Thank you. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us pray the Angelus together,

Two days ago we began the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, during which Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants, knowing that their divisions are an obstacle to the acceptance of the Gospel, implore the Lord together in a more intense way for the gift of full communion. This providential initiative was born 100 years ago, when Fr Paul Wattson introduced the “Octave” of Prayer for the unity of all Christ’s disciples. For this reason, among many of you are Fr Wattson’s spiritual sons and daughters, Brothers and Sisters of the Atonement, here in St Peter’s Square today; I greet them cordially and encourage them to persevere in their special dedication to the cause of unity. We all have the duty to pray and work to overcome every division among Christians in response to Christ’s desire “Ut unum sint.” Prayer, conversion of heart and strengthening the bonds of communion constitute the essence of this spiritual movement that we hope will soon lead Christ’s disciples to the common celebration of the Eucharist, a manifestation of their unity.

This year’s biblical theme is significant: “Pray without ceasing” (I Thes 5: 17). St Paul addressed the community of Thessalonica, which was experiencing inner disputes and conflicts, in order to appeal forcefully for certain fundamental attitudes, among which stands out ceaseless prayer. With this invitation, he wanted to make people understand that the capacity to overcome all selfishness, to live together in peace and fraternal union and for each one to bear the burdens and suffering of others comes from new life in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. We must never tire of praying for Christian unity! When Jesus prayed at the Last Supper that “they may all be one”, he had a precise goal in mind: “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17: 21). The Church’s evangelizing mission thus passes along the ecumenical road, the journey of unity of faith, Gospel witness and genuine brotherhood.

This Friday, 25 January, as I do every year, I shall be going to the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with solemn Vespers. I invite Romans and pilgrims to join with me and the Christians of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities that will be taking part in the celebration to ask God for the precious gift of reconciliation among all the baptized. May the holy Mother of God, whose apparition to Alphonse Ratisbonne in the Church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte we are commemorating today, obtain from the Lord an abundance of the Holy Spirit for all his disciples, so that together we may reach perfect unity and thus offer the witness of faith and life that the world urgently needs.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 18 January 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Since the Pauline Year is being celebrated this year, thinking precisely of St Paul as the great itinerant missionary of the Gospel, I have chosen the theme: “St Paul migrant, “Apostle of the peoples.’“ Saul this was his Hebrew name was born into a family of Jews that had emigrated to Tarsus, an important city in Cilicia, and he grew up with three cultures Hebrew, Hellenistic and Roman and a cosmopolitan mentality. When he converted from being a persecutor of Christians to an apostle of the Gospel, Paul became an “ambassador” of the Risen Christ to make him known to all, in the conviction that in him all peoples are called to form the great family of God’s children.

This is also the Church’s mission, particularly in our time of globalization. As Christians, we cannot fail to feel the need to transmit the message of the love of Jesus, especially to those who do not know him, or rather who are in difficult or grievous situations. Today I am thinking of migrants in particular. Their actual situation is undoubtedly varied: in some cases, thank God, it is serene and well integrated; at other times, unfortunately, it is painful, difficult and sometimes even dramatic. I would like to assure you that the Christian community looks at each person and each family with attention, and asks St Paul for the strength for a renewed effort to favor peaceful coexistence among men and women of different races, cultures and religions in every part of the world. The Apostle tells us what the secret of his new life was: “I”, he writes, “have been grasped by Christ Jesus” (Phil 3: 12); and he adds: “Be imitators of me” (Phil 3: 17). Yes, each one of us, according to his/her own vocation and the place where one lives and works, is called to witness to the Gospel, with greater concern for those brothers and sisters who, from other countries and for various reasons, have come to live among us, thus turning the phenomenon of migration into an opportunity for encounter among civilizations. Let us pray and act so that this may occur in an ever more peaceful and constructive way, in respect and in dialogue, averting every temptation of conflict and oppression.

I would like to add a special word for seafarers and fishermen who have been living for some time in great hardship. In addition to the usual difficulties, their freedom to go ashore and bring chaplains on board is restricted, and they also risk piracy and the damage of illegal fishing. I express my closeness to them and the wish that their generosity, in sea rescue operations, may be rewarded by greater consideration. I am thinking, lastly, of the World Meeting of Families that is drawing to a close in Mexico City, and of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that begins precisely today. Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to pray for all of these intentions, invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 17 January 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday we are celebrating the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The Church has been constantly present beside these people in time, achieving unique goals in the past century: it suffices to think of Bl. Bishop John Baptist Scalabrini and St Frances Cabrini. In my Message for the occasion I called attention to migrant and refugee minors. Jesus Christ, who as a newborn infant lived the dramatic experience of the refugee because of Herod’s threats, taught his disciples to welcome children with great respect and love. Indeed, whatever the nationality and the color of their skin, children too must be considered first and foremost and always as people, images of God, to be encouraged and protected against all marginalization and exploitation. In particular, it is necessary to take every care to ensure that minors who find themselves living in a foreign country are protected by legislation and, above all, accompanied in the innumerable problems they have to face. While I warmly encourage Christian communities and the organizations committed to serving minor migrants and refugees, I urge everyone to keep alive an educational and cultural sensitivity to them, in accordance with the authentic spirit of the Gospel.

This afternoon, almost 24 years after the Venerable John Paul II’s historic Visit, I shall be going to the Great Synagogue of Rome, known as the “Tempio Maggiore” (Major Temple), to meet the Jewish Community of the city and take a further step on the journey of harmony and friendship between Catholics and Jews. In fact, in spite of the problems and difficulties, there is a climate of deep respect and dialogue among the believers of both religions that testifies to how our relations have developed and to the common commitment to recognize what unites us: faith in the one God, first of all, but also the safeguard of life and of the family, and the aspiration to social justice and peace.

Lastly, I recall that the traditional Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will begin tomorrow. Every year it constitutes for all who believe in Christ a propitious time for reviving the ecumenical spirit, meeting, getting to know one another, praying and reflecting together. The biblical theme, from St Luke’s Gospel, echoes the words of the Risen Jesus to the Apostles: “You are witnesses of these things” (Lk 24: 48). Our proclamation of Christ’s Gospel will be all the more credible and effective the more closely we are united in his love, like true brothers. I therefore invite parishes, religious communities, associations and ecclesial movements to pray ceaselessly, especially during the Eucharistic celebrations, for the full unity of Christians.

Let us entrust these three intentions our brother and sister migrants and refugees, religious dialogue with the Jews and Christian unity to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 16 January 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday is World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which every year invites us to reflect on the experience of numerous men and women and a great many families who leave their homeland in search of a better standard of living.

Migration is sometimes voluntary and at other times, unfortunately, is forcefully imposed by war or persecution and often happens — as we know — in dramatic circumstances. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was set up 60 years ago for this reason.

On the Feast of the Holy Family, straight after Christmas, we recalled that Jesus’ parents were also obliged to flee from their country and seek refuge in Egypt, to save the life of their Child: the Messiah, the Son of God was a refugee.

The Church herself has always experienced migration internally. Unfortunately, Christians at times feel forced, with distress, to leave their land, thereby impoverishing the countries in which their ancestors lived.

Yet the voluntary moving of Christians, for various reasons, from one city to another, from one country to another, from one continent to another, is an opportunity to increase the missionary drive of the Word of God. It ensures a broader circulation of the witness of faith within the Mystical Body of Christ through peoples and cultures, reaching new frontiers and new environments.

“One human family”: this is the theme of the Message I wrote for this Day. It is a theme that indicates the purpose, the destination of humanity’s great journey through the centuries: to form one family, with, of course, all the differences that enrich it but without boundaries, recognizing each one as a brother or sister.

This is what the Second Vatican Council affirmed: “All men form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth” (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, no. 1).

The Church, the Council stated further, “is in the nature of sacrament — a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men” (Constitution, Lumen Gentium, no. 1).

It is therefore fundamentally important — although they are scattered across the world and thus have different cultures and traditions — that Christians be one, as the Lord desired.

This is the aim of the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” that will take place in the next few days, from 18 to 25 January. This year it is inspired by a passage from the Acts of the Apostles: “They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

The Octave for Christian Unity is preceded, tomorrow, by the Day for Jewish-Christian Dialogue. This significant juxtaposition calls to mind the importance of the common roots that unite Jews and Christians.

As we address the prayer of the Angelus to the Virgin Mary, let us entrust to her protection all migrants and all those who are dedicated to pastoral work among them.

May Mary, Mother of the Church also obtain for us that we may progress on our journey towards the full communion of all Christ’s disciples.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St. Peter’s Square, Sunday, 15 January 2012

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The theme of vocation stands out in the biblical Readings of this Sunday — the Second in Ordinary Time. In the Gospel there is call to the first disciples by Jesus; in the First Reading is the call of the Prophet Samuel. In the forefront of both these accounts is the importance of the figure who plays the role of mediator, helping people to recognize God’s voice and to follow it.

In Samuel’s case it was Eli, a priest of the Temple of Shiloh where the Ark of the Covenant had formerly been kept, before it was taken to Jerusalem. One night, while he was asleep, Samuel, who was still a boy and had lived ministering in the temple since infancy, heard his name called three times and ran to Eli. But it was not Eli who had called him. The third time Eli understood and said to Samuel: “if he calls you, you shall say, ‘speak Lord, for your servant hears’” (1 Sam 3:9). So it came to pass and from that time Samuel learned to recognize God’s words and became his faithful prophet.

In the case of Jesus’ disciples, the mediator is John the Baptist. John, in fact, had a vast circle of disciples among whom were also the two pairs of brothers, Simon and Andrew, and John and James, fishermen from Galilee. It was to two of them that the Baptist pointed out Jesus the day after his Baptism in the River Jordan. He pointed Jesus out to them saying: “Behold, the Lamb of God” (Jn 1:36), which is equivalent to saying: “Behold, the Messiah.”

And the two disciples followed Jesus, spent some time with him and became convinced that he truly was the Christ. They immediately told the others, and in this way the first nucleus of what was to become the College of the Apostles was created.

In the light of these two texts, I would like to stress the crucial role of the spiritual director in the journey of faith and, in particular, in the response to the vocation of special consecration for the service of God and of his People. The Christian faith already in itself implies proclamation and witness. Indeed, it consists in adherence to the Good News that Jesus of Nazareth has died and risen, that he is God. And so it is that the call to follow Jesus more closely, giving up the formation of a family of one’s own so as to dedicate oneself to the great family of the Church, normally passes through the witness and introduction of an “elder brother”, who is usually a priest. This is so but we should not forget the fundamental role of parents who, with their genuine and joyful faith and their conjugal love, show their children that it is beautiful and possible to build the whole of life on God’s love.

Dear friends, let us pray to the Virgin Mary for all educators, especially priests and parents, that they may be fully aware of the importance of their spiritual role in order to encourage the young not only in their human growth but also to respond to God’s call, to say: “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.”


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 20 January 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today the liturgy proposes the Gospel episode of the wedding at Cana, recounted by John, an eyewitness of the event. This episode has been allocated to this Sunday which immediately follows the Christmas season because, together with the visit of the Magi from the East and the Baptism of Jesus, it forms the trilogy of the Epiphany, in other words the manifestation of Christ. The miracle of the wedding at Cana is in fact “the first of his signs” (Jn 2:11), that is, the first miracle that Jesus worked with which he showed his glory in public, inspiring faith in his disciples.

Let us briefly recall the events that occurred during that wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. It happened that there was not enough wine and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, pointed this out to her Son. He answered her that his hour had not yet come; but then acquiesced to Mary’s request and, having had the six large jars filled with water, he transformed the water into wine, an excellent wine, better than the previous one. With this “sign” Jesus revealed himself as the messianic Bridegroom come to establish with his people the new and eternal covenant, in accordance with the prophets’ words: “as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (Is 62:5). Moreover, wine is a symbol of this joy of love; but it also alludes to the blood that Jesus was to pour out at the end to seal his nuptial pact with humanity.

The Church is the Bride of Christ who makes her holy and beautiful with his grace. Nevertheless this bride formed of human beings is in constant need of purification. And one of the gravest sins that disfigure the Church’s face is that against her visible unity, the historical divisions that separated Christians and that have not yet been resolved. The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is taking place in these very days, from 18 to 25 January, an event much appreciated by believers and communities, which reawakens in all the desire for, and spiritual commitment to, full communion.

Very important in this regard was the prayer vigil I celebrated about a month ago in this square with thousands of young people from all over Europe and with the ecumenical community of Taizé: a moment of grace in which we experienced the beauty of forming one in Christ. I encourage everyone to pray together so that we may achieve “what the Lord requires of us” (see Mic 6:6-8), as the theme of the Week this year says. The theme was suggested by several Christian communities in India, who invite the faithful as brothers and sisters in Christ, to work hard to achieve visible unity among Christians, and to overcome every type of unjust discrimination. Next Friday, at the end of these days of prayer, I shall preside at Vespers in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, in the presence of the Representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities.

Dear friends, once again I would like to add to the prayer for Christian unity the prayer for peace. Praying that in the various wars that are, unfortunately, still raging, the despicable massacre of defenseless civilians may cease, an end be put to every form of violence and the courage be found for dialogue and negotiation. For these intentions, let us invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mediatrix of grace. 



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