VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A living encounter with Christ takes place in the Church he founded, even if it is marked by human weaknesses, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope affirmed this today during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, which he dedicated to a reflection on the figure of St. John Leonardi (1541-1609), patron of pharmacists. The feast day of St. John is Friday.
The Holy Father mentioned how John used his pharmacy training to fulfill “his vocation of transmitting to men, through a holy life, ‘the medicine of God,’ which is Jesus Christ crucified and risen, ‘measure of all things.'”
He also noted how the saint was witness of the “cultural and social passage between the 16th and 17th century,” which marked out the “premises of the future contemporary culture […] characterized by an undue separation of faith and reason.”
“This has produced among its negative effects the marginalization of God, with the illusion of a possible and total autonomy of man who chooses to live ‘as if God did not exist,'” the Pontiff said. “This is the crisis of modern thought, which many times I have had the opportunity to point out and which often leads to a form of relativism.
“John Leonardi intuited what the real medicine was for these spiritual evils and he synthesized it in the expression: ‘Christ first of all,’ Christ in the center of the heart, in the center of history and of the cosmos. And humanity — he affirmed forcefully — needs Christ intensely, because he is our ‘measure.'”
Sacrament of salvation
Benedict XVI went on to highlight another aspect of John Leonardi’s teaching, saying that “in many circumstances he had to confirm that a living encounter with Christ is realized in his Church: holy but fragile […] but, nevertheless, always the sacrament of salvation.”
The Pope said the saint was not “scandalized” by the “human weaknesses” of the Church. Instead, “to oppose the weeds he chose to be good wheat: He decided, that is, to love Christ in the Church and to contribute to render her an ever more transparent sign of him.”
“He saw the Church with great realism, her human frailty, but also her being ‘God’s field,’ the instrument of God for the salvation of humanity,” the Holy Father noted. “And not only this. For love of Christ he worked with alacrity to purify the Church, to render her more beautiful and holy. He understood that every reform is made within the Church and never against the Church.”
This is what makes St. John’s teachings timely for today’s Christians, the Pontiff stated.
And he affirmed: “Every reform certainly involves structures, but in the first place it must be engraved in the hearts of believers.
“Only the saints, men and women who allow themselves to be guided by the divine Spirit, ready to carry out radical and courageous choices in the light of the Gospel, renew the Church and contribute, in a decisive way, to building a better world.”
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