VATICAN CITY, JAN. 7, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Church completes its mission when it reflects the light of Christ to nations enveloped in a “dense fog,” says Benedict XVI.
The Pope affirmed this Sunday during his homily at a Mass on the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, held in St. Peter’s Basilica. He said the feast is when the Church celebrates “Christ, light of the world, and his ‘manifestation’ to all people.”
The Pontiff considered the history of God’s fidelity to humanity and the covenants God made with his people. “The evangelical episode we commemorate at Epiphany — the coming of the Magi to the Baby Jesus at Bethlehem — draws us back to the origins of the history of the people of God,” he said, noting “a first ‘covenant’ established by God with Noah after the flood […] a universal covenant that concerns all humanity.”
“With the calling of Abraham,” Benedict XVI continued, “began God’s great plan to make humanity a family, through his alliance with a new people, chosen by him to be a blessing among all mankind. This divine plan is still under way and has its culminating moment in the mystery of Christ, […] but it needs to be accepted by human history, which always remains a history of faithfulness on God’s part and, unfortunately, also one of unfaithfulness by we humans.”
The Pope acknowledged that “the Church herself, depository of the blessing, is holy and made up of sinners.”
The Pontiff explained how Christ, “in the fullness of time,” came to fulfill the covenant: “He himself, true God and true man, is the sacrament of God’s faithfulness to his plan for the salvation of us all.”
He continued: “The coming of the Magi from the East to Bethlehem to adore the newborn Messiah is the sign of the manifestation of the universal king to all peoples, and to all men and women who seek the truth.
“The faithful and tenacious love of God, whose covenant never fails from generation to generation […] represents the hope of history. In this mystery of God’s faithfulness, the Church fully accomplishes her mission only when she reflects in herself the light of Christ the Lord and thus helps the people of the world on the road of peace and true progress.”
Benedict XVI lamented that, even after the coming of Christ, “Today too there is still much truth in what the prophet said: ‘Dense fog envelops nations’ and our history. Indeed, it cannot be said that globalization is synonymous with world order.”
In this context, he added, “conflicts for economic supremacy and for the monopolization of energy and water resources and raw materials hinder the efforts of those people who, at all levels, are seeking to build a more just and united world.”
Benedict XVI called for austerity so as to avoid wasting wealth when so many people suffer in extreme poverty.
“Greater hope is needed,” the Pope affirmed, “so as to permit the common good of everyone to prevail over the luxury of the few and the poverty of the many. ‘This great hope can only be God, […] not any god, but the God who has a human face.'”
“If there is great hope, it becomes possible to persevere in sobriety,” he said. “If true hope is lacking, happiness is sought in inebriation, in superfluity, in excess, in the ruination of oneself and of the world.
“Moderation is not then just an ascetic rule, but also a path of salvation for humanity. It is now clear that only by adopting a sober lifestyle, accompanied by a serious commitment to the fair distribution of wealth, will it be possible to establish a just and sustainable order of development. To this end, there is need for men and woman who nourish great hope and possess great courage.”