On Helping Jesus in His Mission

«Priests Become Instruments of Salvation»

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INTROD, Italy, JULY 26, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the text of the address Benedict XVI gave before reciting the Angelus at midday today with the faithful gathered at Les Combes in northern Italy’s Aosta Valley where the Pope is vacationing.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

A good Sunday to you! We meet here in Les Combes, near the welcoming house that the Salesians have placed at the Pope’s disposition, where I am ending the period of rest among the beautiful mountains of the Aosta Valley. I am grateful to God that he has conceded me the joy of these days marked by true relaxation — despite the little accident about which you know well. I would like to take this occasion to affectionately thank those who eagerly accompanied me with discretion and with great dedication. I greet Cardinal Poletto and the bishops present here, especially the Bishop of Aosta, Monsignor Giuseppe Anfossi, whom I thank for the words that he spoke to me. I cordially greet the curate of Les Combes, the civil and military authorities, the police, and all of you, dear friends, as also those who are joined to us by radio and television.

Today, on this splendid Sunday on which the Lord shows us all the beauty of his creation, the liturgy provides the beginning of Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John as the Gospel passage. Here we have the miracle of the loaves — when Jesus feeds thousands of persons with only five loaves and two fish; then the other prodigy of the Lord walking on the waters of the stormy lake; and finally the sermon in which he reveals himself as «the bread of life.»

Narrating the «sign» of the loaves, the evangelist emphasizes that Christ, before distributing them, blessed them with a prayer of thanksgiving (cf. 6:11). The [Greek] verb is «eucharistein» and points directly to the account of the Last Supper, in which, in effect, John does not treat the institution of the Eucharist but rather the washing of the feet. Here the Eucharist is anticipated as the great sign of the bread of life.

In this Year for Priests, how can we not recall that we priests can be especially reflected in this Johannine text, identifying ourselves with the Apostles, where it says: Where can we find bread for all these people? And reading about that anonymous boy who has five loaves and two fish, we too spontaneously say: But what is this for such a multitude? In other words: What am I? How can I, with my limitations, help Jesus in his mission? And the Lord gives the answer: Precisely by putting into his «holy and venerable» hands the little that they are, priests become instruments of salvation for many, for all!

Another point for reflection comes to us from today’s Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary and, therefore, grandparents of Jesus. This feast makes us think about the topic of education, which has such an important place in the pastoral work of the Church. In particular, it invites us to pray for grandparents, who, in the family, are the depositaries and the witnesses of the fundamental values of life. The educational task of grandparents is always very important, and it becomes even more so when, for different reasons, the parents are not able to ensure an adequate presence to their children, while they are growing up.

I entrust to the protection of Anne and Joachim all the grandparents of the world, giving them a special blessing. May the Virgin Mary, who, according to certain beautiful artistic renderings, learned to read sacred Scriptures at the knee of her mother, Anne, help grandparents to always nourish their faith and hope at the font of the Word of God.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present today. Thank you for joining me here in Les Combes to pray the Angelus. I hope that your holidays may be a time of great joy, spent together as families, and of deep spiritual renewal, as you rest in the marvel of God’s gift of creation. May the Almighty abundantly bless each of you and your loved ones.

© Copyright 2009 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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