Discover Christ´s Real Humanity, Exhorts Papal Preacher

Meditation Is Part of Pope´s Spiritual Preparation for Holy Week

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2002 ( John Paul II took time off from his busy schedule today to hear a meditation by the preacher of the Papal Household, in preparation for Holy Week.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa began a series of weekly meditations based on the theme «To Begin Again from Christ.» Every Friday, the Capuchin will lead meditations for the Pope and his collaborators of the Roman Curia in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

On this occasion, the Capuchin meditated on John Paul II´s proposal to Catholics at the beginning of the 21st century, expressed in his apostolic letter «Novo Millennio Ineunte»: to contemplate the face of Christ.

With the arrival of Jesus in the world, the face of God assumed an amazing novelty: it is not a question of a metaphorical face, but of a real, visible face, a man´s face, said Father Cantalamessa.

In a culture that tries to make Jesus of Nazareth out to be a man like any other man, the challenge for Christianity is to rediscover «Christ´s real humanity,» the Capuchin said.

The Gospel pages do not insist so much that Jesus is a real man but that he is «the new man,» the perfect image of the Father, he added.

«It must not be thought that because he shared our weaknesses, he also participated in our faults,» the preacher warned. «He assumed the condition of a slave, but without the contamination of sin. Thus he enriched man, but did not lower God.»

The absence of sin «is the characteristic of his authentic humanity, because sin is the only authentic superstructure, the only addition to God´s original plan for man,» the Capuchin explained.

Christ «is not the man who resembles all others, but the man whom all others must resemble.» This is the purpose of Lent, Father Cantalamessa concluded.

Last Saturday the Pope and his Curia aides completed their weeklong Spiritual Exercises at the Vatican.

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