On the Shedding of Blood

“When Will Men Learn That Life Is Sacred?”

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

In the past, the first Sunday of July was characterized by devotion to the most precious Blood of Christ. In the last century some of my venerable predecessors confirmed this [tradition] and Blessed John XXIII, with his apostolic letter “Inde a Primis” (June 30, 1960), explained its meaning and approved its litanies.

The theme of blood linked to that of the Paschal Lamb is of primary importance in sacred Scripture. In the Old Testament the sprinkling of the blood of sacrificed animals represented and established the covenant between God and the people, as one reads in the Book of Exodus: “Then Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people saying: ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you on the basis of all these words of his'” (Exodus 24:8).

Jesus explicitly repeats this formula at the Last Supper, when, offering the chalice to his disciples, he says: “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). And, from the scourging, to the piercing of his side after his death on the cross, Christ has really shed all of his blood as the true Lamb immolated for universal redemption. The salvific value of his blood is expressively affirmed in many passages of the New Testament.

In this Year for Priests, one need only cite the beautiful lines of the Letter to the Hebrews: “Christ … entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God?” (9:11-14).

Dear brothers, it is written in Genesis that the blood of Abel, killed by his brother Cain, cried out to God from the earth (cf. 4:10). And, unfortunately, today as yesterday, this cry does not cease, since human blood continues to run because of violence, injustice and hatred. When will men learn that life is sacred and belongs to God alone? When will men understand that we are all brothers? To the cry of the blood that goes up from many parts of the earth, God answers with the blood of his Son, who gave his life for us. Christ did not answer evil with evil, but with good, with his infinite love. The blood of Christ is the pledge of the faithful love of God for humanity. Looking upon the wounds of the Crucified, every man, even in conditions of extreme moral misery, can say: God has not abandoned me, he loves me, he gave his life for me — and in this way rediscover hope. May the Virgin Mary, who beneath the cross, together with the apostle John, witnessed the testament of Jesus’ blood, help us to rediscover the inestimable riches of this grace, and to feel profound and perennial gratitude for it.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. Here is a translation of the some of the remarks he made in Italian:]

In recent days we have been touched by the tragedy in Viareggio. I join in the sorrow of all those who lost persons dear to them, those who were injured, and those whose property was damaged, even severely. As I lift up my sorrowful prayer to God for all the persons involved in the tragedy, I hope that similar accidents no more occur and that everyone be guaranteed security in work and in the living of daily life. May God receive the dead into his peace, bring quick healing to the injured and instill comfort in the hearts of those whose loved ones have been affected.

I express, further, my profound deploration of the attack in Cotabato in the Philippines, where the explosion of a bomb in front of the cathedral during the celebration of Sunday Mass killed and injured many people, including women and children. As I pray to God for the victims of this ignoble act, I raise up my voice to condemn once again recourse to violence, which never constitutes a worthy way to solve problems.

The bishop of Bolzano-Bressanone has informed me that July 8-12 the IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] World Youth Championships will take place in Bressanone. I am glad to address my greetings to the organizers and to all the young athletes and to wish for serene and healthy competition, in a genuine sportive spirit.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [In English, the Pope said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus. Today’s readings remind us of the call to turn away from empty promises and to heed the voice of the prophets and the wisdom of our Lord. May your time here in Rome strengthen your resolve to bear witness courageously to the Lord in your homes, schools and places of work. Upon you and your families, I invoke God’s abundant blessings of peace and joy!

© Copyright 2009 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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