Benedict XVI Homilies 14068
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On the Lord's Day, in the middle of my Visit to Brindisi, we are celebrating the mystery which is the source and summit of the Church's whole life. We are celebrating Christ in the Eucharist, the greatest gift that flowed from his divine and human Heart, the Bread of Life, broken and shared to enable us to become one with him and with one another. I greet with affection all of you who have gathered at the port, this deeply symbolic place which calls to mind the missionary journeys of Peter and Paul. I rejoice to see the many young people who enlivened last night's vigil in preparation for the Eucharistic celebration. And I also greet you, who are taking part in spirit by means of radio and television. I address a special greeting to Archbishop Rocco Talucci, the Pastor of this beloved Church, and thank him for his words at the beginning of Holy Mass. I also greet the other Bishops of Apulia who have desired to be here with us with sentiments of fraternal communion. The presence of Metropolitan Gennadios gives me special pleasure and I offer him my cordial greeting, which I extend to all the Orthodox brethren and those of the other Denominations, from this Church of Brindisi which, because of her ecumenical vocation, invites us to pray and to work for the full unity of all Christians. With gratitude I greet the Civil and Military Authorities who are taking part in this liturgy, and wish them every good for their service. My affectionate thoughts then go to the priests and deacons, to the women and men religious and to all the faithful. I address a special greeting to the sick in hospital and to the prisoners in jail, to whom I assure my remembrance in prayer. Grace and peace on the part of the Lord to everyone and to the entire city of Brindisi!
The biblical texts we have heard on this 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time help us to understand the reality of the Church: the First Reading (cf. Ex 19,2-6a) recalled the Covenant made on Mount Sinai, during the Exodus from Egypt; the Gospel (cf. Mt 9,36-10,8) consisted of the account of the call and mission of the Twelve Apostles. We find the "constitution" of the Church presented here: how can we fail to perceive the implicit invitation addressed to every Community to renew its own vocation and missionary drive? In the First Reading the sacred author tells of God's Covenant with Moses and with Israel on Sinai. This is one of the great milestones in salvation history, one of those moments that transcend history itself in which the boundary between the Old and New Testaments disappears and the eternal plan of the God of the Covenant is manifest: the plan for the salvation of all men and women through the sanctification of a people to which God proposes to become "my own possession among all peoples" (Ex 19,5). In this perspective, the people is called to become a "holy nation", not only in the moral sense, but first and above all in its own ontological reality, in its being as a people. Already in the Old Testament, how the identity of this people is to be understood is gradually made clear in the course of the salvific events; then it was fully revealed with the coming of Jesus Christ. Today's Gospel presents us with a decisive moment for this revelation. In fact, when Jesus called the Twelve he desired to refer symbolically to the 12 tribes of Israel, going back to the 12 sons of Jacob. Thus, by placing the Twelve at the centre of his new community, he makes it understood that he came to bring the heavenly Father's design to completion, even if the new face of the Church was to appear only at Pentecost when the Twelve, "filled with the Holy Spirit" proclaimed the Gospel, and spoke in all the languages (Ac 2,3-4). It was then that the universal Church was to be made manifest, gathered in a single Body of which the Risen Christ is Head yet, at the same time, sent by him to all the nations, even to the very ends of the earth (cf. Mt 28,19).
Jesus' style is unmistakeable: it is the characteristic style of God who likes to do great things in a poor and humble manner. The solemnity of the accounts of the Covenant in the Book of Exodus leaves room in the Gospels for humble and discreet gestures which nevertheless contain an enormous potential for renewal. It is the logic of the Kingdom of God, not by chance represented by the tiny seed that becomes a great tree (cf. Mt 13,31-32). The Covenant of Sinai was accompanied by cosmic signs that terrified the Israelites; the beginnings of the Church in Galilee, on the contrary, were exempt from such manifestations and reflect the docility and compassion of Christ's Heart although they foretold another battle, another upheaval, inspired by the forces of evil. Christ gave to the Twelve, we heard, "authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity" (Mt 10,1). The Twelve must cooperate with Jesus in establishing the Kingdom of God, that is, his beneficial, life-giving lordship, and life in abundance for the whole of humanity. The Church in essence, like Christ and together with him, is called and sent out to establish the Kingdom of life and to drive out the dominion of death so that the life of God may triumph in the world; so that God who is Love may triumph. Christ's work is always silent, it is not spectacular; the great tree of true life grows even in the humility of being Church, of living the Gospel every day. Precisely with these humble beginnings the Lord encourages us so that in the humility of the Church today too, in the poverty of our Christian lives, we may see his presence and thus have the courage to go to meet him and make his love, this force of peace and of true life, present on our earth. So this was God's plan: to spread over humanity and throughout the cosmos his love that generates life. It was not a spectacular process; it was a humble process, yet it brought with it the true power of the future and of history.
Thus it is a plan that the Lord desires to implement with respect for our freedom, for love, by its nature, cannot be imposed. The Church in Christ then is the place in which to accept and mediate God's love. In this perspective it is clear that the Church's holiness and missionary character are two sides of the same coin: only because she is holy, that is, filled with divine love, can the Church carry out her mission, and it is precisely in terms of this task that God chose her and sanctified her as his property. Our first duty, therefore, precisely in order to heal this world, is to be holy, configured to God; in this way we emanate a healing and transforming power that also acts on others, on history. Your Ecclesial Community, dear brothers and sisters, involved as it is in the Diocesan Synod in this period, is measuring itself at this moment against the double term, "holiness-mission" - holiness is always a force that transforms others. In this regard, it is useful to reflect that the Twelve Apostles were not perfect men, chosen for their moral and religious irreproachability. They were indeed believers, full of enthusiasm and zeal but at the same time marked by their human limitations, which were sometimes even serious. Therefore Jesus did not call them because they were already holy, complete, perfect, but so that they might become so, so that they might thereby also transform history, as it is for us, as it is for all Christians. In the Second Reading we heard the Apostle Paul's synthesis: "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rm 5,8). The Church is the community of sinners who believe in God's love, letting themselves be transformed by him and thus become holy, sanctifying the world.
In the light of God's providential words, today I have the joy of strengthening your Church on her way. It is a way of holiness and mission on which your Archbishop has invited you to reflect in his recent Pastoral Letter; it is a way he has thoroughly examined in the course of his Pastoral Visit and which he now intends to promote through the Diocesan Synod. Today's Gospel suggests to us the style of the mission, in other words the interior attitude that is expressed in life lived. It can only be Jesus' style: that of "compassion". The Evangelist highlights this by focusing attention on Christ looking at the crowd. He wrote: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Mt 9,36). And after the call of the Twelve, this attitude is once again apparent in the order he gives them to go "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt 10,6). Christ's love for his people, especially the lowly and the poor, can be felt in these words. Christian compassion has nothing to do with pietism or the culture of dependency. Rather, it is synonymous with solidarity and sharing and is enlivened by hope. Were not Jesus' words to the Apostles born from hope: "Preach as you go, saying, "the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand'" (Mt 10,7)? This is hope founded on Christ's coming and ultimately coincides with his Person and his mystery of salvation - where Christ is, there is the Kingdom of God, there is the newness of the world - as the theme of the Fourth Ecclesial Convention of Italy celebrated in Verona clearly recalled: the Risen Christ is the "hope of the world".
Enlivened by the hope in which you have been saved, may you too, brothers and sisters of this ancient Church of Brindisi, be signs and instruments of the compassion and mercy of Christ. To the Archbishop and priests I fervently repeat the words of the divine Teacher: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without pay, give without pay" (Mt 10,8). This mandate is once again addressed in the first place to you today. The Spirit who acted in Christ and in the Twelve, is the same as the One who works in you and enables you to perform among your people, in this territory, signs of the Kingdom of love, justice and peace that is coming, indeed, that is already in the world. Yet, through the grace of Baptism and Confirmation, all the members of the People of God participate in Jesus' mission if in different ways. I am thinking of consecrated people who profess the vows of poverty, virginity and obedience; I am thinking of Christian married couples and of you, lay faithful committed to the Ecclesial Community and to society, both personally and as a group. Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus' desire to increase the number of workers in the Lord's harvest (cf. Mt 9,38) is addressed to you all. This desire, which is asking to be made a prayer, reminds us in the first place of seminarians and of the new Seminary in this Archdiocese; it makes us realize that in a broad sense the Church is one great "seminary", beginning with the family and extending to the parish communities, the associations and movements of apostolic commitment. We are all, with the variety of our charisms and ministries, called to work in the Lord's vineyard.
Dear brothers and sisters of Brindisi, continue in this spirit on the way on which you have set out. May your Patrons, St Leucius and St Oronzo, both of whom arrived from the East in the second century to water this land with the living water of the Word of God, watch over you. May the relics of St Theodore of Amasea, venerated in the Cathedral of Brindisi, remind you that giving one's life for Christ is the most effective preaching. May St Lawrence, a son of this City who, in Francis of Assisi's footsteps, became an apostle of peace in a Europe torn apart by wars and disputes, obtain for you the gift of authentic brotherhood. I entrust you all to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Hope and Star of Evangelization. May the Blessed Virgin help you to remain in the love of Christ, so that you may bear abundant fruit for the glory of God the Father and the salvation of the world. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
While you are gathered for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, I am glad to join you via television and thus to participate in your prayer. I would first like to greet Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec, and Cardinal Jozef Tomko, my Special Envoy to the Congress, as well as all the Cardinals and Bishops present. I also extend my cordial greetings to the important figures of civil society who have desired to take part in the liturgy. I extend affectionate thoughts to the priests, the deacons and all the faithful present, and likewise to all the Catholics of Quebec, of the whole of Canada and of the other continents. I do not forget that your City is celebrating the 400th anniversary of its foundation. It is an occasion for each one to remember the values that inspired the pioneers and missionaries in your Country.
"The Eucharist, gift of God for the life of the world" is the theme chosen for this new International Eucharistic Congress. The Eucharist is our most beautiful treasure. It is the Sacrament par excellence; it ushers us into eternal life in advance; it contains the entire mystery of our salvation; it is the source and summit of the action and life of the Church as the Second Vatican Council recalled (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 8). It is therefore particularly important that pastors and faithful be constantly committed to deepening their knowledge of this great Sacrament. In this way each one will be able to affirm his faith and carry out his mission in the Church and in the world ever better, remembering that the Eucharist bears fruit in one's personal life, in the life of the Church and the world. The Spirit of truth bears witness in your hearts; may you too witness to Christ among men and women, as the Gospel acclamation of this Mass says. Thus, participation in the Eucharist does not distance our contemporaries. On the contrary, since it is the expression par excellence of God's love, it calls us to join forces with all our brothers and sisters to confront today's challenges and make the earth a place that is pleasant to live in. This requires that we constantly fight to ensure that everyone is respected, from conception until natural death, that our rich societies welcome the poorest and restore dignity to all, that everyone has food and can enable his family to survive and that peace and justice shine out on all the continents. These are some of the challenges that must mobilize all our contemporaries, and from the Eucharistic mystery Christians must draw the strength to confront them.
The "Mystery of Faith": this we proclaim at every Mass. I would like everyone to make a commitment to study this great mystery, especially by revisiting and exploring, individually and in groups, the Council's text on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, so as to bear witness courageously to the mystery. In this way, each person will arrive at a better grasp of the meaning of every aspect of the Eucharist, understanding its depth and living it with greater intensity. Every sentence, every gesture has its own meaning and conceals a mystery. I sincerely hope that this Congress will serve as an appeal to all the faithful to make a similar commitment to a renewal of Eucharistic catechesis, so that they themselves will gain a genuine Eucharistic awareness and will in turn teach children and young people to recognize the central mystery of faith and build their lives around it. I urge priests especially to give due honour to the Eucharistic rite, and I ask all the faithful to respect the role of each individual, both priest and lay, in the Eucharistic action. The liturgy does not belong to us: it is the Church's treasure.
Reception of the Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament - by this we mean deepening our Communion, preparing for it and prolonging it - is also about allowing ourselves to enter into communion with Christ, and through him with the whole of the Trinity, so as to become what we receive and to live in communion with the Church. It is by receiving the Body of Christ that we receive the strength "of unity with God and with one another" (St Cyril of Alexandria, In Ioannis Evangelium, 11: 11; cf. St Augustine, Sermo 577). We must never forget that the Church is built around Christ and that, as St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas and St Albert the Great have all said, following St Paul (cf. 1Co 10,17), the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Church's unity, because we all form one single body of which the Lord is the head. We must go back again and again to the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, where we were given a pledge of the mystery of our redemption on the Cross. The Last Supper is the locus of the nascent Church, the womb containing the Church of every age. In the Eucharist, Christ's sacrifice is constantly renewed, Pentecost is constantly renewed. May all of you become ever more deeply aware of the importance of the Sunday Eucharist, because Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day when we honour Christ, the day when we receive the strength to live each day the gift of God.
I would also like to invite pastors and the faithful to take a renewed interest in their preparation for receiving the Eucharist. Despite our weakness and sin, Christ wants to make his dwelling place in us. This is why we must do everything in our power to receive him with a pure heart, continuously rediscovering through the Sacrament of forgiveness that purity which sin has stained, "that [our] minds be attuned to [our] voices" (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 11), according to the Council's invitation. Sin in fact, especially serious sin, impedes the action of Eucharistic grace within us. Moreover, those who cannot receive Communion because of their situation will find a saving power and effectiveness in a Communion of desire and from participation at the Eucharist.
The Eucharist has a very special place in the life of Saints. Let us thank God for the history of holiness of Quebec and of Canada, which has contributed to the missionary life of the Church. Your Country honours in particular its Canadian martyrs, John Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues and their companions who were able to give their lives for Christ, thereby associating themselves with his sacrifice on the Cross. They belong to the generation of men and women who founded and developed the Church in Canada, with Marguerite Bourgeoys, Marguerite of Youville, Marie of the Incarnation, Marie Catherine of St Augustine, Bishop François de Laval, founder of the first diocese in North America, Dina Bélanger and Kateri Tekakwitha. Learn from them and, like them, be fearless; God accompanies and protects you; every day make an offering for the glory of God the Father and play your part in the construction of the world, proudly remembering your religious heritage and its social and cultural outreach, and taking care to spread around you the moral and spiritual values that come to us from the Lord.
The Eucharist is not a meal with friends. It is the mystery of a covenant. "The prayers and rites of the Eucharistic sacrifice revive the whole history of salvation continuously before the eyes of our soul, in the course of the liturgical cycle and make us enter its significance ever more deeply" (St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein], Wege zu inneren Stille, Aschaffenburg, 1987, p. 67). We are called to enter into this mystery of a covenant by conforming our lives ever more closely each day to the gift received in the Eucharist. It has a sacred character, as the Second Vatican Council recalls: "every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the Priest and of his Body, which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others. No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 7). In a certain way, it is a "heavenly liturgy", an anticipation of the banquet in the eternal Kingdom, announcing the death and Resurrection of Christ "until he comes" (1Co 11,26).
In order that the People of God may never lack ministers to give them the Body of Christ, we must ask the Lord to make the gift of new priests to his Church. I also ask you to pass on the call to the priesthood to young men, so that they will joyfully and fearlessly respond to the Lord. They will not be disappointed. May the family be the origin and cradle of vocations. Before I conclude, I joyfully announce to you the venue of the next International Eucharistic Congress. It will be held in Dublin, Ireland, in 2012. I ask the Lord to enable each one of you to discover the depth and grandeur of the mystery of faith. May Christ, present in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit invoked upon the bread and the wine, accompany you on your daily journey and in your mission. May you be ready for God to work within you, after the example of the Virgin Mary. As I entrust you to the intercession of Our Lady, of St Anne, Patronness of Quebec, and of all your Country's Saints, I impart an affectionate Apostolic Blessing to you all, as well as to all those present who have come from the different countries of the world.
Dear friends, as this significant event in the life of the Church draws to a conclusion I invite you all to join me in praying for the success of the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2012 in the city of Dublin! I take this opportunity to greet warmly the people of Ireland, as they prepare to host this ecclesial gathering. I am confident that they, together with all the participants at the next Congress, will find it a source of lasting spiritual renewal.
Your Holiness and Fraternal Delegates,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have gathered near the tomb of St Paul, who was born 2,000 years ago at Tarsus in Cilicia, in present-day Turkey. Who was St Paul? In the temple of Jerusalem, faced with the frenzied crowd that wanted to kill him, he presented himself with these words: "I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city [Jerusalem] at the feet of Gamaliel, educated according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God..." (Ac 22,3). At the end of his journey he was to say of himself: "For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle... a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth" (1Tm 2,7 cf. 2Tm 1,11). A teacher of the Gentiles, an apostle and a herald of Jesus Christ, this is how he described himself, looking back over the path of his life. But this glance does not look only to the past. "A teacher of the Gentiles" - these words open to the future, to all peoples and all generations. For us Paul is not a figure of the past whom we remember with veneration. He is also our teacher, an Apostle and herald of Jesus Christ for us too.
Thus we are not gathered to reflect on past history, irrevocably behind us. Paul wants to speak to us - today. That is why I chose to establish this special "Pauline Year": in order to listen to him and learn today from him, as our teacher, "the faith and the truth" in which the reasons for unity among Christ's disciples are rooted. In this perspective, for this 2000th anniversary of the Apostle's birth I wished to light a special "Pauline Flame" that will remain lit throughout the year in a special brazier placed in the Basilica's four-sided portico. To solemnize this event I have also inaugurated the so-called "Pauline Door", through which I entered the Basilica, accompanied by the Patriarch of Constantinople, by the Cardinal Archpriest and by other religious Authorities. It is a cause of deep joy to me that the opening of the Pauline Year has acquired a special ecumenical character through the presence of numerous delegates and representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, whom I welcome with an open heart. I greet first of all His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I and the members of the Delegation that accompany him, as well as the large group of lay people who have come to Rome from various parts of the world to experience with him and with all of us these moments of prayer and reflection. I greet the Fraternal Delegates of the Churches which have special ties with the Apostle Paul - Jerusalem, Antioch, Cyprus, Greece - and which form the geographical environment of the Apostle's life before his arrival in Rome. I cordially greet the Brethren of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the East and the West, together with all of you who have desired to take part in this solemn initiation of the "Year" dedicated to the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Thus, we are gathered here to question ourselves on the great Apostle to the Gentiles. Let us not ask ourselves only: who was Paul? Let us ask ourselves above all: who is Paul? What does he say to me? At this moment, at the beginning of the "Pauline Year" that we are inaugurating, I would like to choose from the rich testimony of the New Testament, three texts in which his inner features, his specific character appear. In the Letter to the Galatians, St Paul gives a very personal profession of faith in which he opens his heart to readers of all times and reveals what was the most intimate drive of his life. "I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me" (Ga 2,20). All Paul's actions begin from this centre. His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a very personal way. It is awareness of the fact that Christ did not face death for something anonymous but rather for love of him - of Paul - and that, as the Risen One, he still loves him; in other words, Christ gave himself for him. Paul's faith is being struck by the love of Jesus Christ, a love that overwhelms him to his depths and transforms him. His faith is not a theory, an opinion about God and the world. His faith is the impact of God's love in his heart. Thus, this same faith was love for Jesus Christ.
Paul is presented by many as a pugnacious man who was well able to wield the sword of his words. Indeed, there was no lack of disputes on his journey as an Apostle. He did not seek a superficial harmony. In the First of his Letters, addressed to the Thessalonians, he himself says: "We had courage... to proclaim to you the Gospel of God in the face of great opposition... In fact, we never spoke words of adulation, as you know" (1Th 2,2 1Th 2,5). The truth was too great for him to be willing to sacrifice it with a view to external success. For him, the truth that he experienced in his encounter with the Risen One was well worth the fight, persecution and suffering. But what most deeply motivated him was being loved by Jesus Christ and the desire to communicate this love to others. Paul was a man capable of loving and all of his actions and suffering can only be explained on the basis of this core sentiment. It is only on this basis that we can understand the concepts on which his proclamation was founded. Let us take another key word of his: freedom. The experience of being loved to the very end by Christ had opened his eyes to the truth and to the way of human existence. It was an experience that embraced everything. Paul was free as a man loved by God, who, by virtue of God, was able to love together with him. This love then became the "law" of his life and in this very way, the freedom of his life. He speaks and acts motivated by the responsibility of love. Here freedom and responsibility are indivisibly united. Since Paul lives in the responsibility of love, he is free; since he is one who loves, he lives his life totally in the responsibility of this love and does not take freedom as a pretext to act arbitrarily and egoistically. In the same spirit Augustine formulated the phrase that later became famous: Dilige et quod vis fac (Tract. in 1 Jo 7, 7-8) - love and do what you please. The one who loves Christ as Paul loved him can truly do as he pleases because his love is united to Christ's will and thus with God's will; because his will is anchored to the truth and because his will is no longer merely his own, arbitrary to the autonomous self, but is integrated into God's freedom from which he receives the path to take.
In the search for the inner features of St Paul I would like, secondly, to recall the words that the Risen Christ addressed to him on the road to Damascus. First the Lord asked him: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?". To the question: "Who are you, Lord?", Saul is given the answer: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting" (Ac 9,4f.). In persecuting the Church, Paul was persecuting Jesus himself. "You persecute me". Jesus identifies with the Church in a single subject. This exclamation of the Risen One, which transformed Saul's life, in summary already contains the entire doctrine on the Church as the Body of Christ. Christ did not withdraw himself into Heaven, leaving ranks of followers to carry out "his cause" on earth. The Church is not an association that desires to promote a specific cause. In her there is no question of a cause. In her it is a matter of the person of Jesus Christ, who, also as the Risen One, remained "flesh". He has "flesh and bones" (Lc 24,39), the Risen One says, in Luke's Gospel, to the disciples who thought he was a ghost. He has a Body. He is personally present in his Church, "Head and Body" form one being, Augustine would come to say. "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1Co 6,15). And he added: just as, according to the book of Genesis, man and woman become one flesh, thus Christ and his followers become one spirit, that is, one in the new world of the Resurrection (cf. 1Co 6,16 ff.). In all of this the Eucharistic mystery appears, in which Christ continually gives his Body and makes of us his Body: "The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1Co 10,16 f). With these words, at this moment, not only Paul addresses us but also the Lord himself: how could you pierce my body? Before the Face of Christ, these words become at the same time an urgent plea: Bring us together from all our divisions. Grant that this may once again become reality today: there is one bread, therefore we, although we are many, are one body. For Paul, the words about the Church as the body of Christ are not just any comparison. They go far beyond a comparison. "Why do you persecute me?". Christ ceaselessly draws us into his body, building his Body from the Eucharistic centre that for Paul is the centre of Christian existence by virtue of which everyone, as also every individual, can experience in a totally personal way: he has loved me and given himself for me.
I would like to conclude with words St Paul spoke near the end of his life. It is an exhortation to Timothy from prison while he was facing death, "with the strength that comes from God bear your share of hardship which the Gospel entails", the Apostle said to his disciple (2Tm 1,8). These words, which mark the end of the Apostle's life as a testament, refer back to the beginning of his mission. When, after his encounter with the Risen One, while Paul lay blind in his dwelling at Damascus, Ananias was charged to visit the feared persecutor and to lay his hands upon him so that he might regain his sight. Ananias' objection that this Saul was a dangerous persecutor of Christians, was met with the response: this man must carry my name before the Gentiles and kings: "I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name" (Ac 9,15 f.). The task of proclamation and the call to suffer for Christ's sake are inseparable. The call to become the teacher of the Gentiles is, at the same time and intrinsically, a call to suffering in communion with Christ who redeemed us through his Passion. In a world in which falsehood is powerful, the truth is paid for with suffering. The one who desires to avoid suffering, to keep it at bay, keeps life itself and its greatness at bay; he cannot be a servant of truth and thus a servant of faith. There is no love without suffering - without the suffering of renouncing oneself, of the transformation and purification of self for true freedom. Where there is nothing worth suffering for, even life loses its value. The Eucharist - the centre of our Christian being - is founded on Jesus' sacrifice for us; it is born from the suffering of love which culminated in the Cross. We live by this love that gives itself. It gives us the courage and strength to suffer with Christ and for him in this world, knowing that in this very way our life becomes great and mature and true. In the light of all St Paul's Letters, we see how the prophecy made to Ananias at the time of Paul's call came true in the process of teaching the Gentiles: "I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name". His suffering made him credible as a teacher of truth who did not seek his own advantage, his own glory or his personal satisfaction but applied himself for the sake of the One who loved us and has given himself for us all.
Let us now thank the Lord for having called Paul, making him the light to the Gentiles and the teacher of us all, and let us pray to him: "Give us even today witnesses of the Resurrection, struck by the impact of your love and able to bring the light of the Gospel in our time. St Paul, pray for us!
Benedict XVI Homilies 14068