VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
This year, at Sunday Mass, the liturgy proposes the Gospel of St. Mark for our meditation. A special characteristic of this Gospel is the so-called “messianic secret,” the fact that, for the moment, Jesus does not want anyone outside the restricted group of his disciples to know that he is the Christ, the Son of God. This is why he often admonishes the apostles and the sick people whom he heals to not reveal his identity to anyone.
For example, the Gospel passage this Sunday (Mark 1:21-28) tells of a man possessed by a demon, who suddenly cries out: “What do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the holy one of God!” Jesus answers him: “Be quiet! Come out of him!” And immediately, the evangelist notes, the evil spirit came out of the man with a loud cry. Not only does Jesus chase demons out of people, freeing them from the worst slavery, but he prohibits the demons themselves from revealing his identity. And he insists on this “secret” because the fulfillment of his mission is at stake, on which our salvation depends.
He knows in fact that to liberate humanity from the dominion of sin he must be sacrificed on the cross as the true paschal lamb. The devil, for his part, tries to divert his attention and direct it instead toward a human logic of a powerful and successful messiah. The cross of Christ will be the demon’s ruin, and this is why Jesus does not cease to teach his disciples that in order to enter into his glory he must suffer much, be rejected, condemned and crucified (cf. Luke 24:26). Suffering is an integral part of his mission.
Jesus suffers and dies on the cross for love. When we consider this, we see that it is in this way that he gave meaning to our suffering, a meaning that many men and women of every age understood and made their own, experiencing profound serenity even in the bitterness of difficult physical and moral trials.
Indeed, “the strength of life in suffering” is the theme that the Italian bishops have chosen for their customary message for today’s Day for Life. I wholeheartedly join in their message in which we see the love of pastors for their people, and the courage to proclaim the truth, the courage to state with clarity, for example, that euthanasia is a false solution to the drama of suffering, a solution unworthy of man. The true answer cannot be putting someone to death, however “kindly,” but to bear witness to the love that helps us to face pain and agony in a human way. We are certain: No tear, whether it be of those who suffer or those who stand by them, goes unnoticed before God.
The Virgin Mary carried in her mother’s heart the Son’s secret, she shared in the painful moments of the passion and crucifixion, sustained by the hope of the resurrection. To her we entrust those who suffer and those who dedicate themselves to supporting them each day, serving life in all its phases: parents, health care workers, priests, religious, researchers, volunteers, and many others. We pray for all of them.[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]
Tomorrow we celebrate the liturgical feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Forty days after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph brought him to Jerusalem, following the prescriptions of the Law of Moses. Every first born, in fact, according to the Scriptures, belonged to the Lord, and so had to be ransomed by a sacrifice. In this event Jesus’ consecration to God the Father is manifested and, linked to it, that of the Virgin Mary. For this reason my beloved predecessor, John Paul II, desired that this feast, in which many consecrated persons take or renew their vows, be the Day of Consecrated Life. So, tomorrow afternoon, at the end of Holy Mass, at which the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will preside, I will meet with the consecrated men and women who are present in Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica. I invite everyone to thank the Lord for the precious gift of these brothers and sisters, and to ask him, through the intercession of the Madonna, for many new vocations, in the variety of charisms with which the Church is rich.[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [In English, he said:]
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals his divine authority in his teaching and his work of healing. Let us ask the Lord to open our minds ever more fully to his saving truth, and our hearts to his merciful and gracious love. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
© Copyright 2009 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana