VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of a homily given today by Benedict XVI during a pastoral visit to the parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe of the Diocese of Rome.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Parish of San Massimiliano Kolbe! Live this personal and communal path of following the Lord in a committed way. Advent is a powerful invitation to everyone to allow God to enter more and more into our life, into our houses, into our neighborhoods, into our communities, to have a light in the midst of many shadows, the many daily toils.
Dear Friends, I am very happy to be among you today to celebrate the Lord’s Day, the Third Sunday of Advent, Sunday of joy. I cordially greet the cardinal vicar, the auxiliary bishop of the sector, your parish priest, whom I thank for the words that he addressed to me in the name of all of you, and the parish vicar. I greet those who are active in the parish: the catechists, the members of various groups, along with the numerous members of the Neocatechumenal Way. I greatly appreciate the decision to give a place to Eucharistic adoration, and I thank you for your prayers that you offer for me before the Blessed Sacrament. My thoughts are with all the inhabitants of this quarter, especially the elderly, the sick, the people are alone and in difficulty. I remember all and each in this Mass.
Together with all of you I admire this new church and the parish buildings and with my presence I desire to encourage you to realize in an ever better way the Church of living stones that you yourselves are. I know the many and significant efforts at evangelization that you are engaged in. I exhort all of the faithful to make your own contribution to the building up of the community, in particular in the field of catechesis, the liturgy and charity — pillars of the Christian life — in communion with the whole Diocese of Rome. No community can live as a cell that is isolated from the diocesan context; it must rather be a living expression of the beauty of the Church that, under the bishop’s leadership — and in the parish, under the pastor’s leadership — walks in communion toward the Kingdom of Heaven.
I address a special thought to families; I accompany them with the wish that they may fully realize their vocation of love with generosity and perseverance. Even when difficulties in conjugal life and in the relationships with their children present themselves, the spouses must never cease to remain faithful to that fundamental “yes” that they pronounced before God and each other on their wedding day, recalling that faithfulness to their vocation demands courage, generosity and sacrifice.
Your community includes within it many families who have come from central and southern Italy in search of work and better conditions of life. With the passing of time the community has grown and it has changed in part with the arrival of many people from Eastern Europe and other countries. Precisely starting from this concrete situation of the parish you must try to grow evermore in communion with everyone: it is important to create occasions of dialogue and to promote mutual understanding between persons from different cultures, models of life and social conditions. But it is above all necessary to help them become involved in the Christian life through care that is attentive to the real needs of each person. Here, as in every parish, it is necessary to leave those who are “near” to reach out to those who are “far away,” to bring an evangelical presence to the realms of life and work. All must be able to find in the parish adequate paths of formation and experience that communal dimension that is a fundamental characteristic of Christian life. In this way they are encouraged to rediscover the beauty of Christ and of being part of his Church.
Know, then, how to form a community with everyone, united in listening to the Word of God and in the celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. In this respect the diocesan pastoral verification that is underway on the theme “Sunday Eucharist and the Witness of Charity” is a propitious occasion to reflect upon and better live these two fundamental components of the life and mission of the Church and of every individual believer, that is, the Sunday Eucharist and the practice of charity. Gathered around the Eucharist we more easily feel that the mission of every Christian community is that of bringing the message of God’s love to all men. This is why it is important that the Eucharist always be at the heart of the life of the faithful.
I would like to offer a special word of affection and friendship to you, dear young people who are listening to me and to your peers who live in this parish. The Church expects much from you, from your enthusiasm, from your capacity to look ahead and from your desire for radicality in the choices of life. Feel that you are true protagonists in the parish, putting all of your fresh energies and your life at the service of God and the brothers.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, along with the invitation to joy, today’s liturgy — with the words of St. James that we have heard — tells us also to be constant and patient in waiting for the Lord who comes, and to be this together, as a community, avoiding complaining and judging others (cf. James 5:7-10).
We have heard in the Gospel the question of the Baptist who finds himself in prison; the Baptist announced the coming of the Judge who changes the world, and now it feels as if the world has stayed the same. He makes his disciples ask Jesus: “Are you the one who must come? Or must we look for another? Are you he or must we look for another?” In the last two or three centuries many have asked: “But are you really the one? Or must the world be changed in a truly radical way? Are you not doing it?” And many prophets, ideologies and dictators have come and said: “It isn’t him! He didn’t change the world! We are the ones!” And they created their empires, their dictatorships, their totalitarianism that was supposed to change the world. And they changed it, but in a destructive way. Today we know that of these great promises there has only remained a great void and great destruction. They were not the ones.
And so we must again see Christ and ask Christ: “Are you the one?” The Lord, in the silent way that is characteristic of him, answers: “See what I have done. I did not start a bloody revolution, I did not change the world by force, but I lit many lights that form, in the meantime, a great path of light through the centuries.”
Let us begin here, in our parish: St. Maximilian Kolbe, who offered to starve to death to save the father of a family. What a great light he became! What light has come from this figure and encouraged others to give themselves, to be near to the suffering, to the oppressed! Let us think of Damien de Veuster who was a father to the lepers. He lived and died with and for the lepers and thus brought light into this community. Let us think of Mother Teresa, who gave so much light to people, who, after a life without light, died with a smile, because they were touched by the light of God’s love.
We could go on and we would see how the Lord said in his answer to John, that it is not the violent revolution in the world, it is not the great promises that change the world, but it is the silent light of the truth, of the goodness of God that is the sign of his presence and that gives us the certainty that we are loved completely and that we are not forgotten, we are not a product of chance, but of a will of love.
In this way we can live, we can feel God’s nearness. “God is near,” today’s first reading tells us, he is near, but we are often far away. Let us draw near, let us go to the presence of his light, we pray to the Lord and in the contact of prayer we ourselves become light for others.
And this is precisely also the meaning of the parish Church: Enter here, enter into dialogue, into contact with Jesus, with the Son of God, so that we ourselves become one of those little lights that he has lit and carry light into the world that feels that it has been redeemed.
Our spirit must open up to this invitation and thus we walk with joy to meet Christmas, imitating the Virgin Mary, who waited in prayer, with intimate and joyous trepidation, the birth of the Redeemer. Amen![Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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