Christ's Poverty a Model for Christians, Says Benedict XVI

Comments on Passage From Philippians 2

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Every Christian should adopt the same sentiments of Christ, who made humility and poverty his style of life, says Benedict XVI.

“To penetrate into Jesus’ sentiments means not to consider power, wealth and prestige as the highest values in life, as in the end, they do not respond to the deepest thirst of our spirit,” the Pope said at today’s general audience.

On the contrary, to have Christ as a model of life means “to open our heart to the Other, to bear with the Other the burden of life and to open ourselves to the Heavenly Father with a sense of obedience and trust, knowing, precisely, that if we are obedient to the Father, we will be free,” the Holy Father said.

“To penetrate into Jesus’ sentiments: This should be the daily exercise of our life as Christians,” the Bishop of Rome proposed when addressing the 25,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

With his address, Benedict XVI continued the series of meditations, begun by Pope John Paul II, on the Psalms and canticles that form part of vespers, the evening prayer of the Church. On this occasion, he reflected on the canticle composed by St. Paul in Philippians 2:6-11.

Same attitude

In this biblical passage, the Pope explained, “Christ, incarnated and humiliated in the most infamous death, that of crucifixion, is proposed as a vital model for the Christian. The latter — as affirmed in the text — should have the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, sentiments of humility and selflessness, of detachment and generosity.

“Undoubtedly, he possesses divine nature with all its prerogatives . But he does not interpret and live this transcendent reality as a sign of power, of greatness, and of dominion. Christ does not use his being equal to God, his glorious dignity and his power as an instrument of triumph, sign of distance, expression of crushing supremacy.”

The Holy Father continued: “On the contrary, he ’emptied’ himself, immersing himself without reserve in the miserable and weak human condition. The divine ‘form’ is hidden in Christ under the human ‘form,’ that is, under our reality marked by suffering, poverty, limitation and death.

“It is not a question therefore of a simple clothing, of a changeable appearance, as it was believed happened to the gods of the Greco-Roman culture: It is Christ’s divine reality in an authentically human experience.

“God does not appear only as man, but becomes man and is really one with us, he is truly ‘God-with-us,’ not content with gazing on us with a benign look from his throne of glory, but enters personally in human history, becoming ‘flesh,’ namely, fragile reality, conditioned by time and space.”

“Truly a brother”

Jesus’ death on the cross, the most degrading, explained Benedict XVI, made him “truly a brother of every man and woman, including those constrained to an atrocious and ignominious end.”

The Pope arrived in St. Peter’s Square in the white open jeep, greeting pilgrims, on a hot morning. After his address, he greeted the crowd in 13 languages.

Other papal commentaries on the canticles and Psalms of the Liturgy of the Hours are posted at www.zenit.org/english/audience.

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