On Love With a Capital "L"

«Our Eternal Destiny Is Conditioned by Our Attitude»

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 26, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

In this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and the poor man named Lazarus. The first one lives in luxury and self-concern, and when he dies, ends up in hell. But the poor man, who ate the scraps from the rich man’s table, is carried by the angels to the eternal dwelling of God and the saints. “Blessed are you poor,” the Lord proclaimed to his disciples, “because yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). 

But the message of the parable goes further: It points out that while we are in this world we must listen to the Lord who speaks to us through the Scriptures and live according to his will, because, after death, it will be too late to make amends. So, this parable tells us two things: The first is that he loves the poor and lifts them up from their humiliation; the second is that our eternal destiny is conditioned by our attitude; it is up to us to follow the road to life that God has shown us, and this is the road of love, not understood as sentiment but as service to others in the charity of Christ.

By a happy coincidence, tomorrow we celebrate the liturgical memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, the patron of Catholic charitable organizations; the 300th anniversary of his death will be celebrated. In the France of the 1600s, he touched with his own hand the great contrast between the richest and the poorest. In fact, as a priest, he was in the habit of frequenting not only the aristocratic circles, but also the countryside and the Paris slums. 

Driven by the love of Christ, Vincent de Paul knew how to organize stable forms of service to marginalized persons, creating the so-called Charitées (charities), that is, groups of women who placed their time and goods at the service of the most marginalized. Among these volunteers, some chose to consecrate themselves totally to God, and thus, together with St. Luise de Marillac, St. Vincent founded the Daughters of Charity, the first women’s congregation to live their consecration “in the world,” in the midst of the people, with the sick and the needy.

Dear friends, only Love with a capital “L” makes for true happiness! This is also demonstrated by another witness, a young woman, who was proclaimed blessed here in Rome. I am speaking of Chiara Badano, an Italian girl born in 1971, who was led to death by an illness when she was a little less than 19 years old, but who was a ray of light for everyone, as her nickname, “Chiara Luce” (clear light), tells us. Her parish, the Diocese of Acqui Terme and the Focolare Movement, which she belonged to, are celebrating today — and it is a festive day for all young people who can find in her an example of consistent Christianity. 

Her last words, of complete adherence to the will of God, were: “Bye-bye Mamma. Be happy because I am.” Let us praise God because his love is stronger than evil and death; and let us thank the Virgin Mary, who guides young people, through difficulties and sufferings too, to fall in love with Jesus and discover the beauty of life.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in several languages. Here are some of the remarks he made in Italian:]

I am happy to welcome, from various countries, the large group of Daughters of Charity, priests of the mission and laypeople of the Vincentian associations as well as the Brothers of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines).

Dear friends, if it pleases God, on Thursday I will return to Rome; so, as I wish you all a good Sunday I also address a cordial “till we meet again” to the community of Castel Gandolfo.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [In English the Holy Father said:]

I am very pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present here this morning! In today’s Gospel, the story of the rich man and Lazarus is held up to us as a warning to have a special care for the poor in all circumstances. As followers of our blessed Lord, let us always look to others first, before we look to our own comfort. God’s abundant blessings upon you all!

© Copyright 2010 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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