POPE BENEDICT XVI ON THE 4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.
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 (cf. 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.
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” (cf. 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 behaviour 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” (cf. 1 Jn 4: 16; Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, n. 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.
Stay updated: subscribe by email for free TO OUR NEW WEBSITE www.catholicsstrivingforholiness.org (PUT YOUR EMAIL IN THE SUBSCRIBE WIDGET).
We are also in www.fb.com/Catholicsstrivingforholiness. Kindly help more people in their Christian life by liking our page and inviting your family, friends and relatives to do so as well. Thanks in advance and God bless you and your loved ones! Fr. Rolly Arjonillo