Benedict XVI Homilies 10306
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have listened together to a famous and beautiful passage from the Book of Exodus, in which the sacred author tells of God's presentation of the Decalogue to Israel. One detail makes an immediate impression: the announcement of the Ten Commandments is introduced by a significant reference to the liberation of the People of Israel. The text says: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Ex 20,2).
Thus, the Decalogue is intended as a confirmation of the freedom gained. Indeed, at a closer look, the Commandments are the means that the Lord gives us to protect our freedom, both from the internal conditioning of passions and from the external abuse of those with evil intentions. The "nos" of the Commandments are as many "yeses" to the growth of true freedom.
There is a second dimension of the Decalogue that should also be emphasized: by the Law which he gave through Moses, the Lord revealed that he wanted to make a covenant with Israel. The Law, therefore, is a gift more than an imposition. Rather than commanding what the human being ought to do, its intention is to reveal to all the choice of God: He takes the side of the Chosen People; he set them free from slavery and surrounds them with his merciful goodness. The Decalogue is a proof of his special love.
Today's liturgy offers us a second message: The Mosaic Law was totally fulfilled in Jesus, who revealed God's wisdom and love through the mystery of the Cross, "a stumbling block to Jews and an absurdity to Gentiles; but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1Co 1,23-24).
The Gospel just proclaimed refers precisely to this: Jesus drove the merchants and money-changers out of the temple. Through the verse of a Psalm: "Zeal for your house has consumed me" (cf. Ps 69,10 : 10), the Evangelist provides a key for the interpretation of this significant episode. And Jesus was "consumed" by this "zeal" for the "house of God", which was being used for purposes other than those for which it was intended.
To the amazement of everyone present, he responded to the request of the religious leaders who demand evidence of his authority by saying: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (Jn 2,19). These are mysterious words that were incomprehensible at the time; John, however, paraphrased them for his Christian readers, saying: "Actually, he was talking about the temple of his body" (Jn 2,21).
His enemies were to destroy that "temple", but after three days he would rebuild it through the Resurrection. The distressful "stumbling block" of Christ's death was to be crowned by the triumph of his glorious Resurrection.
In this Lenten season, while we are preparing to relive this central event of our salvation in the Easter triduum, we are already looking at the Crucified One, seeing in him the brightness of the Risen One.
Dear brothers and sisters, today's Eucharistic Celebration, which combines the commemoration of St Joseph with meditation on the liturgical texts of the Third Sunday of Lent, gives us the opportunity to consider in the light of the Paschal Mystery another important aspect of human life. I am referring to the reality of work, which exists today in the midst of rapid and complex changes.
In many passages, the Bible shows that work is one of the original conditions of the human being. When the Creator shaped man in his image and likeness, he asked him to till the land (cf. Gn 2,5-6). It was because of the sin of our first parents that work became a burden and an affliction (cf. Gn 3,6-8), but in the divine plan it retains its value, unaltered.
The Son of God, by making himself like us in all things, dedicated himself for many years to manual activities, so that he was known as "the carpenter's son" (cf. Mt 13,55). The Church has always, but especially in the last century, shown attention and concern for this social context, as the many social interventions of the Magisterium testify and the action of many associations of Christian inspiration show; some of them are gathered here today and represent the whole world of workers.
I am pleased to welcome you, dear friends, and I address my cordial greeting to each one of you. A special thought goes to Bishop Arrigo Miglio of Ivrea and President of the Italian Episcopal Commission for Social Problems and Work, Justice and Peace, who has interpreted your common sentiments and addressed courteous good wishes to me for my name day. I am deeply grateful to him.
Work is of fundamental importance to the fulfilment of the human being and to the development of society. Thus, it must always be organized and carried out with full respect for human dignity and must always serve the common good.
At the same time, it is indispensable that people not allow themselves to be enslaved by work or idolize it, claiming to find in it the ultimate and definitive meaning of life.
The invitation contained in the First Reading is appropriate in this regard: "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days you may labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God" (Ex 20,8-9). The Sabbath is a holy day, that is, a day consecrated to God on which man understands better the meaning of his life and his work. It can therefore be said that the biblical teaching on work is crowned by the commandment of rest.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church speaks opportunely of this: "For man, bound as he is to the necessity of work, this rest opens to the prospect of a fuller freedom, that of the eternal Sabbath (cf. He 4,9-10). Rest gives men and women the possibility to remember and experience anew God's work from Creation to Redemption, in order to recognize themselves as his work (cf. Ep 2,10), and to give thanks for their lives and for their subsistence to him who is their author" (n. 258).
Work must serve the true good of humanity, permitting "men as individuals and as members of society to pursue and fulfil their total vocation" (Gaudium et Spes GS 35). For this to happen, technical and professional qualifications, although necessary, do not suffice; nor does the creation of a just social order, attentive to the common good.
It is necessary to live a spirituality that helps believers to sanctify themselves through their work, imitating St Joseph, who had to provide with his own hands for the daily needs of the Holy Family and whom, consequently, the Church holds up as Patron of workers. His witness shows that man is the subject and protagonist of work.
I would like to entrust to St Joseph those young people who are finding integration into the working world difficult, the unemployed and everyone who is suffering hardship due to the widespread employment crisis.
Together with Mary, his Spouse, may St Joseph watch over all workers and obtain serenity and peace for families and for the whole of humanity.
May Christians, looking at this great Saint, learn to witness in every working environment to the love of Christ, the source of true solidarity and lasting peace. Amen!24306
Venerable Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
On this vigil of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the penitential mood of Lent makes way for the feast: today, the College of Cardinals is to gain fifteen new members. To you in particular, my dear Brothers, whom I have had the joy of raising to the cardinalate, I address a most sincere and cordial greeting, and I thank Cardinal William Joseph Levada for the sentiments and good wishes that he has expressed to me in the name of all of you. I am also pleased to greet the other Cardinals present, the venerable Patriarchs, the Bishops, the priests, the men and women religious and the many lay faithful, especially family members who have come here to honour the new Cardinals in prayer and Christian joy. With special gratitude I welcome the distinguished civil and governmental authorities, representing various nations and institutions. The Ordinary Public Consistory is an event that manifests most eloquently the universal nature of the Church, which has spread to every corner of the world in order to proclaim to all people the Good News of Christ our Saviour. The beloved Pope John Paul II celebrated nine Consistories in all, thus contributing effectively to the renewal of the College of Cardinals along the lines established by the Second Vatican Council and the Servant of God Pope Paul VI. If it is true that down the centuries the College of Cardinals has changed in many ways, nevertheless the substance and essential nature of this important ecclesial body remain unaltered. Its ancient roots, its historical development and its composition today make it truly a kind of “Senate”, called to cooperate closely with the Successor of Peter in accomplishing the tasks connected with his universal apostolic ministry.
The Word of God, which has just been proclaimed to us, takes us back in time. With the Evangelist Mark we return to the very origin of the Church and specifically to the origin of the Petrine ministry. With the eyes of our hearts we see the Lord Jesus once again, to whose praise and glory this act in which we are engaged is totally directed and dedicated. The words he speaks to us recall to our minds the definition of the Roman Pontiff so dear to the heart of Saint Gregory the Great: “Servus servorum Dei”. When Jesus explains to the twelve Apostles that their authority will have to be exercised quite differently from that of “the rulers of the Gentiles”, he expresses it in terms of service: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant (d???????), and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (here Jesus uses a stronger word - d?????: Mc 10,43-44). Total and generous availability to serve others is the distinctive mark of those in positions of authority in the Church, because it was thus for the Son of Man, who came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mc 10,45). Although he was God, or one might even say driven by his divinity, he assumed the form of a servant - “formam servi” - as is wonderfully expressed in the hymn to Christ contained in the Letter the the Philippians (cf. Ph 2,6-7).
The first “servant of the servants of God” is therefore Jesus. After him, and united with him, come the Apostles; and among these, in a particular way, Peter, to whom the Lord entrusted the responsibility of guiding his flock. The Pope must be the first to make himself the servant of all. Clear testimony to this is found in the first reading of today’s liturgy, which puts before us Peter’s exhortation to the “presbyters” and elders of the community (cf. 1P 5,1). It is an exhortation given with the authority that comes to the Apostle from the fact that he is a witness of the sufferings of Christ, the Good Shepherd. We sense that Peter’s words come from his personal experience of service to God’s flock, but first and foremost they are derived from direct experience of Jesus’s own behaviour: the way he served to the point of self-sacrifice, the way he humbled himself even unto death, death on a cross, trusting in the Father alone, who subsequently raised him on high. Peter, like Paul, was utterly “conquered” by Christ - “comprehensus sum a Christo Iesu” (cf. Ph 3,12) - and like Paul he can exhort the elders with full authority because it is no longer he who lives, but Christ lives in him - “vivo autem iam non ego, vivit vero in me Christus” (Ga 2,20).
Yes, venerable and dear Brothers, these words of the Prince of the Apostles apply particularly to those who are called to wear the cardinalatial scarlet: “I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed” (1P 5,1). These words, in their essential structure, recall the Paschal Mystery, specially present in our hearts during these days of Lent. Saint Peter applies them to himself as a “fellow elder” (s?µp?esß?te???), indicating that the elder in the Church, the presbyter, through experience accumulated over the years and through trials faced and overcome, must be particularly “in tune” with the inner dynamic of the Paschal Mystery. How many times, dear Brothers who have just received the cardinalatial dignity, have you found in these words matter for meditation and a source of spiritual inspiration to follow in the footsteps of the crucified and risen Lord! The demands that your new responsibility places upon you will confirm these words in a new and exacting way. More closely linked to the Successor of Peter, you will be called to work together with him in accomplishing his particular ecclesial service, and this will mean for you a more intense participation in the mystery of the Cross as you share in the sufferings of Christ. All of us are truly witnesses of his sufferings today, in the world and also in the Church, and hence we also have a share in his glory. And so you will be able to draw more abundantly upon the sources of grace and to disseminate their life-giving fruits more effectively to those around you.
Venerable and dear Brothers, I want to sum up the meaning of this new call that you have received in the word which I placed at the heart of my first Encyclical: caritas.This matches well the colour of your cardinalatial robes. May the scarlet that you now wear always express the caritas Christi, inspiring you to a passionate love for Christ, for his Church and for all humanity. You now have an additional motive to seek to rekindle in yourselves those same sentiments that led the incarnate Son of God to pour out his blood in atonement for the sins of the whole world. I am counting on you, venerable Brothers, I am counting on the entire College into which you are being incorporated, to proclaim to the world that “Deus caritas est”, and to do so above all through the witness of sincere communion among Christians: “By this”, said Jesus, “all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13,35). I am counting on you, dear Brother Cardinals, to ensure that the principle of love will spread far and wide, and will give new life to the Church at every level of her hierarchy, in every group of the faithful, in every religious Institute, in every spiritual, apostolic or humanitarian initiative. I am counting on you to see to it that our common endeavour to fix our gaze on Christ’s open Heart will hasten and secure our path towards the full unity of Christians. I am counting on you to see to it that the Church’s solicitude for the poor and needy challenges the world with a powerful statement on the civilization of love. All this I see symbolized in the scarlet with which you are now invested. May it truly be a symbol of ardent Christian love shining forth in your lives.
I entrust this my prayer into the maternal hands of the Holy Virgin of Nazareth, source of the life-blood which the Son of God was to pour out on the Cross as the supreme expression of his love. In the mystery of the Annunciation which we are about to celebrate, it is revealed to us that the divine Word was made flesh through the action of the Holy Spirit and came to dwell among us. Through Mary’s intercession, may the Spirit of truth and love be poured out abundantly upon the new Cardinals and upon us all, so that as we become ever more fully conformed to Christ, we may dedicate ourselves tirelessly to building up the Church and to spreading the Gospel in the world.
Dear Cardinals and Patriarchs,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
For me it is a source of great joy to preside at this concelebration with the new Cardinals after yesterday's Consistory, and I consider it providential that it should take place on the liturgical Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord and under the sunshine that the Lord gives us. In the Incarnation of the Son of God, in fact, we recognize the origins of the Church. Everything began from there.
Every historical realization of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring. They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate Word of God. It is he that we are constantly celebrating: Emmanuel, God-with-us, through whom the saving will of God the Father has been accomplished.
And yet - today of all days we contemplate this aspect of the Mystery - the divine wellspring flows through a privileged channel: the Virgin Mary.
St Bernard speaks of this using the eloquent image of aquaeductus (cf. Sermo in Nativitate B.V. Mariae: PL 183, 437-448). In celebrating the Incarnation of the Son, therefore, we cannot fail to honour his Mother. The Angel's proclamation was addressed to her; she accepted it, and when she responded from the depths of her heart: "Here I am... let it be done to me according to your word" (Lc 1,38), at that moment the eternal Word began to exist as a human being in time.
From generation to generation, the wonder evoked by this ineffable mystery never ceases. St Augustine imagines a dialogue between himself and the Angel of the Annunciation, in which he asks: "Tell me, O Angel, why did this happen in Mary?". The answer, says the Messenger, is contained in the very words of the greeting: "Hail, full of grace" (cf. Sermo 291: 6).
In fact, the Angel, "appearing to her", does not call her by her earthly name, Mary, but by her divine name, as she has always been seen and characterized by God: "Full of grace - gratia plena", which in the original Greek is 6,P"D4JTµXv0, "full of grace", and the grace is none other than the love of God; thus, in the end, we can translate this word: "beloved" of God (cf. Lc 1,28). Origen observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of Sacred Scripture (cf. In Lucam 6: 7).
It is a title expressed in passive form, but this "passivity" of Mary, who has always been and is for ever "loved" by the Lord, implies her free consent, her personal and original response: in being loved, in receiving the gift of God, Mary is fully active, because she accepts with personal generosity the wave of God's love poured out upon her. In this too, she is the perfect disciple of her Son, who realizes the fullness of his freedom and thus exercises the freedom through obedience to the Father.
In the Second Reading, we heard the wonderful passage in which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 39 in the light of Christ's Incarnation: "When Christ came into the world, he said: ..."Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God'" (He 10,5-7). Before the mystery of these two "Here I am" statements, the "Here I am" of the Son and the "Here I am" of the Mother, each of which is reflected in the other, forming a single Amen to God's loving will, we are filled with wonder and thanksgiving, and we bow down in adoration.
What a great gift, dear Brothers, to be able to conduct this evocative celebration on the Solemnity of the Lord's Annunciation! What an abundance of light we can draw from this mystery for our lives as ministers of the Church!
You above all, dear new Cardinals, what great sustenance you can receive for your mission as the eminent "Senate" of Peter's Successor! This providential circumstance helps us to consider today's event, which emphasizes the Petrine principle of the Church, in the light of the other principle, the Marian one, which is even more fundamental. The importance of the Marian principle in the Church was particularly highlighted, after the Council, by my beloved Predecessor Pope John Paul II in harmony with his motto Totus tuus.
In his spirituality and in his tireless ministry, the presence of Mary as Mother and Queen of the Church was made manifest to the eyes of all. More than ever he adverted to her maternal presence in the assassination attempt of 13 May 1981 here in St Peter's Square. In memory of that tragic event, he had a mosaic of the Virgin placed high up in the Apostolic Palace looking down over St Peter's Square, so as to accompany the key moments and the daily unfolding of his long reign. It is just one year since his Pontificate entered its final phase, full of suffering and yet triumphant and truly paschal.
The icon of the Annunciation, more than any other, helps us to see clearly how everything in the Church goes back to that mystery of Mary's acceptance of the divine Word, by which, through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Covenant between God and humanity was perfectly sealed. Everything in the Church, every institution and ministry, including that of Peter and his Successors, is "included" under the Virgin's mantle, within the grace-filled horizon of her "yes" to God's will. This link with Mary naturally evokes a strong affective resonance in all of us, but first of all it has an objective value.
Between Mary and the Church there is indeed a connatural relationship that was strongly emphasized by the Second Vatican Council in its felicitous decision to place the treatment of the Blessed Virgin at the conclusion of the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium.
The theme of the relationship between the Petrine principle and the Marian principle is also found in the symbol of the ring which I am about to consign to you. The ring is always a nuptial sign. Almost all of you have already received one, on the day of your episcopal ordination, as an expression of your fidelity and your commitment to watch over the holy Church, the bride of Christ (cf. Rite of Ordination of Bishops).
The ring which I confer upon you today, proper to the cardinalatial dignity, is intended to confirm and strengthen that commitment, arising once more from a nuptial gift, a reminder to you that first and foremost you are intimately united with Christ so as to accomplish your mission as bridegrooms of the Church. May your acceptance of the ring be for you a renewal of your "yes", your "here I am", addressed both to the Lord Jesus who chose you and constituted you, and to his holy Church, which you are called to serve with the love of a spouse.
So the two dimensions of the Church, Marian and Petrine, come together in the supreme value of charity, which constitutes the fulfilment of each. As St Paul says, charity is the "greatest" charism, the "most excellent way" (1Co 12,31 1Co 13,13).
Everything in this world will pass away. In eternity only Love will remain. For this reason, my Brothers, taking the opportunity offered by this favourable time of Lent, let us commit ourselves to ensure that everything in our personal lives and in the ecclesial activity in which we are engaged is inspired by charity and leads to charity. In this respect too, we are enlightened by the mystery that we are celebrating today.
Indeed, the first thing that Mary did after receiving the Angel's message was to go "in haste" to the house of her cousin Elizabeth in order to be of service to her (cf. Lc 1,39). The Virgin's initiative was one of genuine charity; it was humble and courageous, motivated by faith in God's Word and the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. Those who love forget about themselves and place themselves at the service of their neighbour. Here we have the image and model of the Church!
Every Ecclesial Community, like the Mother of Christ, is called to accept with total generosity the mystery of God who comes to dwell within her and guides her steps in the ways of love. This is the path along which I chose to launch my Pontificate, inviting everyone, with my first Encyclical, to build up the Church in charity as a "community of love" (cf. Deus Caritas Est, Part II).
In pursuing this objective, venerable Brother Cardinals, your spiritual closeness and active assistance is a great support and comfort to me. For this I thank you, and at the same time I invite all of you, priests, deacons, Religious and lay faithful, to join together in invoking the Holy Spirit, praying that the College of Cardinals may be ever more ardent in pastoral charity, so as to help the whole Church to radiate Christ's love in the world, to the praise and glory of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This Fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally known as "Laetare Sunday", is permeated with a joy which, to some extent, attenuates the penitential atmosphere of this holy season: "Rejoice Jerusalem!", the Church says in the Entrance Antiphon, "Be glad for her... you who mourned for her".
The refrain of the Responsorial Psalm echoes this invitation: "The memory of you, Lord, is our joy".
To think of God gives joy. We spontaneously ask ourselves: but why should we rejoice? One reason, of course, is the approach of Easter. The expectation of Easter gives us a foretaste of the joy of the encounter with the Risen Christ.
The deepest reason, however, lies in the message offered by the biblical readings that the liturgy presents to us today and that we have heard. They remind us that despite our unworthiness, God's infinite mercy is destined for us. God loves us in a way that we might call "obstinate" and enfolds us in his inexhaustible tenderness.
This is what already emerges from the First Reading from the Book of Chronicles in the Old Testament (cf. 2Ch 36,14-16 2Ch 36,19-23). The sacred author offers us a concise and meaningful interpretation of the history of the Chosen People, who suffered God's punishment as a consequence of their rebellious behaviour: the temple was destroyed and the people in exile no longer had a land; it truly seemed that God had forgotten them.
Then, however, they saw that God, through punishment, pursues a plan of mercy. It was to be the destruction of the Holy City and the temple - as I said -, it was to be an exile that would move the people's hearts and bring them back to their God so that they might know him more deeply.
And then the Lord, demonstrating the absolute primacy of his initiative over every purely human effort, was to make use of a pagan, King Cyrus of Persia, to set Israel free.
In the text we have heard, the anger and mercy of the Lord alternate in a dramatic sequence, but love triumphs in the end, for God is love.
How can we fail to grasp from the memory of those distant events a message valid for all times, including our own? In thinking of the past centuries, we can see that God continues to love us even when he punishes us. Even when God's plans pass through trial and punishment, they always aim at an outcome of mercy and forgiveness.
This is what the Apostle Paul confirmed for us in the Second Reading, recalling that "God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Ep 2,4-5).
To express this reality of salvation the Apostle, together with the term "mercy", eleos in Greek, uses the word for love, agape, taken up and further amplified in the most beautiful statement which we heard in the Gospel passage: "God so loved the world that he gave his Only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3,16).
As we know, that "giving" on the part of the Father had a dramatic development: it even went to the point of the sacrifice of the Son on the Cross.
If Jesus' entire mission in history is an eloquent sign of God's love, his death, in which God's redeeming tenderness is fully expressed, is quite uniquely so. Always, but particularly in this Lenten Season, our meditation must be centred on the Cross. In it we contemplate the glory of the Lord that shines out in the martyred body of Jesus.
God's greatness, his being love, becomes visible precisely in this total gift of himself. It is the glory of the Crucified One that every Christian is called to understand, live and bear witness to with his life.
The Cross - the giving of himself on the part of the Son of God - is the definitive "sign" par excellence given to us so that we might understand the truth about man and the truth about God: we have all been created and redeemed by a God who sacrificed his only Son out of love.
This is why the Crucifixion, as I wrote in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, "is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form" ().
How should we respond to this radical love of the Lord?
The Gospel presents to us a person by the name of Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem who sought out Jesus by night. He was a well-to-do man, attracted by the Lord's words and example, but one who hesitated to take the leap of faith because he was fearful of others. He felt the fascination of this Rabbi, so different from the others, but could not manage to rid himself of the conditioning of his environment that was hostile to Jesus, and stood irresolute on the threshold of faith.
How many people also in our time are in search of God, in search of Jesus and of his Church, in search of divine mercy, and are waiting for a "sign" that will touch their minds and their hearts!
Today, as then, the Evangelist reminds us that the only "sign" is Jesus raised on the Cross: Jesus who died and rose is the absolutely sufficient sign. Through him we can understand the truth about life and obtain salvation.
This is the principal proclamation of the Church, which remains unchanged down the ages.
The Christian faith, therefore, is not an ideology but a personal encounter with the Crucified and Risen Christ. From this experience, both individual and communitarian, flows a new way of thinking and acting: an existence marked by love is born, as the saints testify.
Dear friends, this mystery is particularly eloquent in your parish, dedicated to "God, the merciful Father". It was desired, as we well know, by my beloved Predecessor John Paul II in memory of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, to effectively condense that extraordinary spiritual event.
In meditating on the Lord's mercy that was revealed totally and definitively in the mystery of the Cross, the text that John Paul II had prepared for his meeting with the faithful on 3 April, Sunday in Albis, the Second Sunday of Easter last year, comes to my mind.
In the divine plans it was written that he would leave us precisely on the eve of that day, Saturday, 2 April - we all remember it well -, and for that reason he was unable to address his words to you. I would like to address them to you now, dear brothers and sisters. "To humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, the Risen Lord offers his love that pardons, reconciles and reopens hearts to hope. It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace".
The Pope, in this last text which is like a testament, then added: "How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!" (Regina Caeli Reflection, read by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, Substitute of the Secretariat of State, to the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square, 3 April 2005; L'Osservatore Romano English Edition, 6 April, p. 1, n. 2).
To understand and accept God's merciful love: may this be your commitment, first of all in your families and then in every neighbourhood milieu.
I hope for this with all my heart as I offer you my cordial greeting, starting with the priests who care for your community under the guidance of the parish priest, Fr Gianfranco Corbino, to whom I offer sincere thanks for having interpreted your sentiments in a beautiful presentation of this building, this "barque" of Peter and of the Lord.
I next extend my greeting to the Cardinal Vicar, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, and to Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the titular of your church, to the Vicegerent and the Bishop of the Eastern Sector of Rome and to all those who cooperate actively in the various parish services.
I know that yours is a young community, barely 10 years old, which spent its early days in precarious conditions while waiting for the completion of its current structures.
I also know that rather than discouraging you, the initial problems impelled you to unanimous apostolic work with special attention to the area of catechesis, the liturgy and charity.
Continue, dear friends, on the path on which you have set out, striving to make your parish a true family in which fidelity to the Word of God and the Church's Tradition may become, day after day, more and more your rule of life.
I know, moreover, that because of its original architectural structure, your church attracts many visitors. Make them appreciate not only the particular beauty of this sacred building, but especially the riches of a lively Community, eager to witness to the love of God, the merciful Father. That love is the true secret of Christian joy to which today, Laetare Sunday, invites us.
As we turn our gaze to Mary, "Mother of holy joy", let us ask her to help us deepen the reasons for our faith, so that, as today's liturgy urges us, renewed in the spirit and with a joyful heart, we may respond to the eternal and boundless love of God.
Benedict XVI Homilies 10306