Monday, January 8, 2024

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

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

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 prior to the recitation of the 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.




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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.”



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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