On the End Times and God's Kingdom

“Behold the Power of the Word of Christ”

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We have reached the last two weeks of the liturgical year. We thank the Lord who has enabled us to carry out, yet again, this journey of faith — old and always new — in the great spiritual family of the Church! It is an inestimable gift, which allows us to live in history the mystery of Christ, receiving in the furrows of our personal and community existence the seed of the Word of God, seed of eternity that transforms this world from within and opens it to the Heavenly Kingdom. Accompanying us in the itinerary of Sunday biblical readings was St. Mark’s Gospel, which today presents a part of Jesus’ discourse on the end times. In this discourse, there is a phrase that is striking for its synthetic clarity: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31). Let us reflect, for a moment, on this prophecy of Christ.

The expression “heaven and earth” is frequent in the Bible to indicate the whole universe, the entire cosmos. Jesus says that all this is destined to “pass.” Not only the earth, but also heaven, understood, in fact, in the cosmic sense, not as a synonym of God. Sacred Scripture knows no ambiguity: The whole of creation is marked by finiteness, including the elements divinized by ancient mythologies: There is no confusion between creation and the Creator, but rather a clear difference. With such a clear distinction, Jesus affirms that his words “will not pass,” that is, they come from the part of God and because of this are eternal.

However, pronounced in the concreteness of his earthly existence, they are prophetic words par excellence, as Jesus affirms in another place, addressing the celestial Father: “for I have given them the words which thou gave me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee and they have believed that thou didst send me” (John 17:8). In a well-known parable, Christ compares himself to the sower and explains that the seed is the Word (cfr Mark 4:14): Those who hear it, receive it and bear fruit (cfr Mark 4:20) are part of the Kingdom of God, that is, they live under his lordship; they remain in the world , but are no longer of the world; therefore, in them is a seed of eternity, a principle of transformation that already now is manifested in a good life, animated by charity, and in the end will produce the resurrection of the flesh. Behold the power of the Word of Christ.

Dear friends, the Virgin Mary is the living sign of this truth. Her heart was “good earth” that received with full disposition the Word of God, so that all her existence, transformed according to the image of the Son, was introduced into eternity, soul and body, anticipating the eternal vocation of every human being. Now, in prayer, let us make our own her response to the Angel: “let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), so that, following Christ on the way of the Cross, we might also be able to come to the glory of the Resurrection.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father made the following remarks in Italian:]

I address first of all a cordial greeting to the participants of the plenary assembly of the Commission for the Media of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, who carried out their work these days in the Vatican. Beloved, you had to address the Internet culture and communication in the Church. I thank you for your skilled contribution on this topic of great present importance.

In addition, I wish to remind you that the national celebration of Thanksgiving Day is taking place in Ivrea, in Piedmont. I willingly join spiritually all those who are grateful to the Lord for the fruits of the earth and of man’s work, renewing the urgent invitation to respect the natural environment, a precious resource entrusted to our responsibility.

[Translation by ZENIT] [The Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I extend heartfelt greetings to the English-speaking visitors here today. During this month of November, we remember especially the Holy Souls in Purgatory. In recent days we prayed for those who lost their lives in war, and on this World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, we pray for all who have been killed or injured in road accidents. As we commend their souls to the loving mercy of Almighty God, we also invoke his consolation upon their families and loved ones. For those of you who have travelled long distances to be here today, I pray that you may have a safe homeward journey. May God bless all of you, and your families and friends.

© Copyright 2009 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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