Papal Homily in Turin

“If We Are United to Christ, We Can Truly Love”

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TURIN, Italy, MAY 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today when he celebrated Mass in Turin.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

I am happy to find myself with you on this festive day and to celebrate this solemn Eucharist for you. I greet everyone present, in particular the pastor of your archdiocese, Cardinal Severino Poletto, whom I thank for the warm address to me on behalf of everyone. I also greet the archbishops and bishops present, the priests, religious, the representatives of ecclesial associations and movements. I turn deferentially to the mayor, Dr. Sergio Chiamparino, grateful for the courteous address and greeting, to the representatives of the government and to the civil and military officials, with a special thanks to those who generously offered their cooperation for the realization of this pastoral visit of mine. I bear in mind those who were not able to be present, especially the sick, those who are alone and those who find themselves in difficulty. I entrust to the Lord the city of Turin and all its inhabitants in this Eucharistic celebration, which, as every Sunday, invites us to participate in a communal way at the twofold table of the Word of truth and the Bread of eternal life.

We are in the Easter season, which is the time of the glorification of Jesus. The Gospel that we have just heard reminds us that this Glorification is realized through the Passion. In the paschal mystery, Passion and Glorification are closely joined; they form an indissoluble unity. Jesus says: “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him” (John 13:31) and he says this when Judas leaves the Upper Room to carry out the plan of his betrayal, which will lead to the Master’s death: precisely at that moment Jesus’ glorification begins. The Evangelist John makes it clear: he does not, in fact, say that Jesus was glorified only after his passion, through his resurrection, but shows that his glorification is begun precisely with the passion. In it Jesus manifests his glory, which is the glory of love, which gives its entire self. He loved the Father, doing his will to the very end, with a perfect oblation; he loved humanity, giving his life for us. Thus, already in his Passion he was glorified, and God is glorified in him. 

But the Passion is only the beginning. Thus Jesus says that his glorification is also to come (cf. 13:32). Then the Lord, in the moment that he announces his departure from this world (cf. 13:33), almost as a testament to his disciples to continue his presence among them in a new way, gives them a new commandment: “I give you a new commandment: that you love one another. As I loved you, love one another” (13:34). If we love each other, Jesus will continue to be present in our midst.

Jesus speaks of a “new commandment.” But what is new about it? Already in the Old Testament, God gave the commandment of love; now, however, this commandment has become new insofar as Jesus makes a very important addition to it: “As I loved you, love one another.” What is new is precisely this “loving as Jesus loved.” The Old Testament did not give any mode of love but only formulated the precept to love. Jesus, however, gave himself to us as model and source of love. This is a love without limits, universal, able to transform all the negative circumstances and all the obstacles into occasions for progress in love. In centuries past the Church that is in Turin knew a rich tradition of sanctity and generous service — as the archbishop and the mayor pointed out — thanks to the work of zealous priests, men and women in both active and contemplative religious communities and faithful laypeople. Jesus’ words thus acquire a particular resonance for this Church, a Church that is generous and active, beginning with her priests. Giving us the new commandment, Jesus asks us to live his own love, which is the truly credible, eloquent and efficacious sign that announces to the world the Kingdom of God.

Obviously with our own power we are weak and limited. There is always a resistance to love in us and in our existence, there are many difficulties that provoke divisions, resentment and rancor. But the Lord promised us to be present in our life, making us capable of this generous and total love, which knows how to overcome all obstacles. If we are united to Christ, we can truly love in this world. Loving others as Jesus loved us is possible only with that strength that is communicated to us in our relationship with him, especially in the Eucharist, in which his Sacrifice of love that generated love is made present in a real way.

I would like to say, then, a word of encouragement especially to the priests and deacons of this Church, who dedicate themselves with generosity to pastoral work, and to the religious. Sometimes being a worker in the Lord’s vineyard can be tiring, duties multiply, there are so many demands, there is no lack of problems: Know how daily to draw from this relationship of love with the Lord in prayer the strength to convey the prophetic announcement of salvation; re-center your existence on what is essential in the Gospel; cultivate a real dimension of communion and fraternity in the presbyterate, in your communities, in relationships with the People of God; in service testify to the power of love that comes from on high.

The first reading that we heard indeed presents a special way of glorifying Jesus: the apostle and his fruits. Paul and Barnabas, at the end of their first apostolic trip, return to the cities that they have already visited and reanimate the disciples, exhorting them to remain solid in the faith, because, as they say, “we must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations” (Acts 14:22). Christian life, dear brothers and sisters, is not easy; I know that there is no lack of difficulties, problems, worries in Turin: I think in particular of those who concretely live their lives in precarious conditions, because of the scarcity of jobs, the uncertainty of the future, physical and moral suffering; I think of families, young people, of old people who often live in solitude, the marginalized, immigrants. Yes, life leads to many difficulties, many problems, but it is precisely the certainty that comes from faith, the certainty that we are not alone, that God loves everyone without distinction and is near to everyone with his love, that makes it possible to face, to live through and to overcome the toil of daily problems. It was the universal love of the risen Christ that moved the apostles to go out of themselves, to spread the word of God, to spend themselves without reserve for others, with courage, joy and serenity. The Risen One has a strength of love that overcomes every limit, that does not stop at any obstacle. And the Christian community, especially in the situations that are the most pastorally demanding, must be a concrete instrument of this love of God.

I exhort families to live the Christian dimension of love in simple daily actions, in family relationships, overcoming divisions and misunderstandings, in cultivating faith, which makes communion still stronger. Also in the rich and diverse world of the university and culture, witness to the love that today’s Gospel speaks of is not lacking, in the capacity for attentive listening and humble dialogue in the search for Truth, certain that it is the same truth that comes to meet us and draws us. I would like also to encourage the effort, often difficult, of those who are called to look after the public sphere: Collaboration to pursue the common good and make the city ever more human and habitable is a sign that Christian thought about man is never against his liberty but in favor of a greater fullness that finds its realization only in a “civilization of love.” To everyone, in particular the young people, I want to say never to lose hope, that which comes from the risen Christ, from God’s victory over sin and death.

Today’s second reading shows us precisely the final outcome of Jesus’ resurrection: it is the new Jerusalem, the holy city, that comes down from heaven, from God, prepared as a bride for her husband (cf. Revelation 21:2). He who was crucified, who shared our suffering — as the sacred Shroud also reminds us in an eloquent way — is he who is risen and wants to reunite all of us in his love. It is a stupendous, “powerful,” solid hope, because, as Revelation says: “[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death will be no more, nor will there be any mourning or lament anymore, because the former things will pass away” (21:4). Does the holy Shroud not communicate the same message? In it we see, as in a mirror, our sufferings in the sufferings of Christ: “Passio Christi. Passio hominis.” It is because of this that the Shroud is a sign of hope: Christ faced the cross to put up a wall against evil; to make us see, in his passion, the anticipation of that moment in which for us too, every tear will be wiped away, when there will be no death, no mourning, no lament anymore.

The passage from Revelation ends with this statement: “He who sits upon the throne says: ‘Behold, I make all things new’” (21:5). The first absolutely new thing realized by God was Jesus’ resurrection, his heavenly glorification. It is the beginning of a whole series of “new things” in which we also have a share. “New things” are a world full of joy, in which there are no more suffering and destruction, there is no rancor and hate, but only the love that comes from God and transforms everything.

Dear Church that is in Turin, I have come among you to confirm you in the faith. I would like to exhort you, firmly and with affection, to remain solid in that faith that you have received and that gives meaning to life; never to lose the light of hope in the Risen Christ, who is able to transform reality and make all things new; to live God’s love in a simple and concrete way in the city, in the neighborhoods, in communities, in families: “As I have loved you, love one another.”

Amen.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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