VATICAN CITY, APRIL 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Be men and women of the mercy of God, Benedict XVI urged those present at the double anniversary Mass celebrated in his honor in St. Peter’s Square.
Today’s Mass of Divine Mercy Sunday marked the occasions of the Pontiff’s 80th birthday, Monday, and the second anniversary of his election as Pope, Thursday.
In his homily, the Holy Father also remembered Pope John Paul II, recalling that the Polish Pontiff had designated the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday, and had died on the eve of the feast day in 2005.
Nearly 50,000 attended the Mass, and some 70 cardinals, archbishops, heads of the Roman Curia and priests of the Diocese of Rome concelebrated.
Benedict XVI dedicated the main part of his homily to reflect on Divine Mercy, referring back to the teachings of his predecessor John Paul II: “In the word ‘mercy,’ he found summarized and newly interpreted for our time the mystery of Redemption.”
Benedict XVI said that the Polish Pope was a direct witness of “two dictatorial regimes,” “poverty, necessity and violence” and “the power of darkness” that also threatens our times.
John Paul II also “experienced, with equal or more intensity, the presence of God that opposes all of our strength with his totally different and divine power: the power of mercy,” said Benedict XVI.
He added that “it is mercy that puts limits to evil, in it is expressed the nature of all that is special in God — his holiness, the power of truth and love.”
The Pope added: “The friendship of Jesus Christ is the friendship of him who makes of us people who forgive, of him who also forgives us … who infuses into us the awareness of the interior duty of love, of the duty to correspond to his confidence with our fidelity.”
The Holy Father said that John Paul II says to us: “Have confidence in Divine Mercy! Convert yourselves day after day into men and women of the mercy of God!”
Commenting of the Sunday Gospel in which Christ appears to his disciples and allows Thomas to touch his wounds, the Pontiff said: “The Lord has taken his wounds with him for all eternity. He is a wounded God; who has allowed himself to be wounded out of love for us.”
The Holy Father added that the wounds signify “certainty of his mercy and … consolation.”
Present at the celebration was a delegation of the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, led by Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamum.
The Pope greeted the patriarch’s delegate with “fraternal affection” and expressed his desire that Catholic-Orthodox dialogue be carried out “with renewed vigor.”
Benedict XVI used for the first time today a new processional cross, made in the gold workshop of the Benedictine Abby of Santo Domingo de Silos, in Burgos, Spain.
Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, retired archbishop of Munich and Freising, gave as a gift to the Holy Father the Book of the Gospels used in the Mass. It is the work of Max Faller.