Benedict XVI Homilies 10032
Basilica of "San Gregorio al Celio"
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Monks and Nuns of Camaldoli,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It gives me great joy to be here today in this Basilica of San Gregorio al Celio for Solemn Vespers on the liturgical commemoration of the death of Saint Gregory the Great. With you, dear Brothers and Sisters of the Camaldolese family, I thank God for the thousand years that have passed since the foundation of the Sacred Hermitage of Camaldoli by Saint Romuald. I am delighted to be joined on this occasion by His Grace Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. To you, my dear Brother in Christ, and to each one of you, dear monks and nuns, and to everyone present, I extend cordial greetings.
We have listened to two passages from Saint Paul. The first, taken from the Second Letter to the Corinthians, is particularly appropriate for the current liturgical season of Lent. It contains the Apostle’s exhortation to seize the favourable moment for receiving God’s grace. The favourable moment is naturally when Jesus Christ came to reveal and to bestow upon us the love that God has for us, through his incarnation, passion, death and resurrection. The “day of salvation” is the same reality that Saint Paul in another place describes as the “fullness of time”, the moment when God took flesh and entered time in a completely unique way, filling it with his grace. It is for us, then, to accept this gift, which is Jesus himself: his person, his word, his Holy Spirit. Moreover, in the first reading, Saint Paul tells us about himself and his apostolate – how he strives to remain faithful to God in his ministry, so that it may be truly efficacious and may not prove instead a barrier to faith. These words make us think of Saint Gregory the Great, of the radiant witness that he offered the people of Rome and the whole Church by a blameless ministry full of zeal for the Gospel. Truly, what Saint Paul wrote of himself applies equally to Gregory: the grace of God in him has not been fruitless (cf. 1Co 15,10). This, indeed, is the secret for the lives of every one of us: to welcome God’s grace and to consent with all our heart and all our strength to its action. This is also the secret of true joy and profound peace.
The second reading was taken from the Letter to the Colossians. We heard those words – always so moving for their spiritual and pastoral inspiration – that the Apostle addressed to the members of that community in order to form them according to the Gospel, saying to them: “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 3,17). “Be perfect”, the Master said to his disciples; and now the Apostle exhorts his listeners to live according to the high measure of Christian life that is holiness. He can do this because the brothers he is addressing are “chosen by God, holy and beloved”. Here too, at the root of everything, is the grace of God, the gift of the call, the mystery of the encounter with the living Jesus. But this grace demands a response from those who have been baptized: it requires the commitment to be reclothed in Christ’s sentiments: tenderness, goodness, humility, meekness, magnanimity, mutual forgiveness, and above all, as a synthesis and a crown, agape, the love that God has given us through Jesus, the love that the Holy Spirit has poured into our hearts. And if we are to be reclothed in Christ, his word must dwell among us and in us, with all its richness and in abundance. In an atmosphere of constant thanksgiving, the Christian community feeds on the word and causes to rise towards God, as a song of praise, the word that he himself has given us. And every action, every gesture, every service, is accomplished within this profound relationship with God, in the interior movement of Trinitarian love that descends towards us and rises back towards God, a movement that finds its highest expression in the eucharistic sacrifice.
This word also sheds light upon the happy circumstances that bring us together today, in the name of Saint Gregory the Great. Through the faithfulness and benevolence of the Lord, the Congregation of Camaldolese monks of the Order of Saint Benedict has completed a thousand years of history, feeding daily on the word of God and the Eucharist, as their founder Saint Romuald taught them, according to the triplex bonum of solitude, community life and evangelization. Exemplary men and women of God, such as Saint Peter Damian, Gratian – author of the Decretum – Saint Bruno of Querfurt and the five brother martyrs, Rudolph I and II, Blessed Gherardesca, Blessed Giovanna da Bagno and Blessed Paolo Giustiniani; men of art and science like Brother Maurus the Cosmographer, Lorenzo Monaco, Ambrogio Traversari, Pietro Delfino and Guido Grandi; illustrious historians like the Camaldolese Annalists Giovanni Benedetto Mittarelli and Anselmo Costadoni; zealous pastors of the Church, among whom Pope Gregory XVI stands out, have revealed the horizons and the great fruitfulness of the Camaldolese tradition.
Every phase of the long history of the Camaldolese has produced faithful witnesses of the Gospel, not only in the hidden life of silence and solitude and in the common life shared with the brethren, but also in humble and generous service towards others. Particularly fruitful was the hospitality offered by Camaldolese guest-houses. In the days of Florentine humanism, the walls of Camaldoli witnessed the famous disputationes, in which great humanists such as Marsilio Ficino and Cristoforo Landino took part. In the turbulent years of the Second World War, those same cloisters were the setting for the birth of the famous Codex of Camaldoli, one of the most significant sources of the Constitution of the Italian Republic. Nor were the years of the Second Vatican Council any less productive, for at that time individuals of high calibre emerged among the Camaldolese, enriching the Congregation and the Church and promoting new initiatives and new houses in the United States of America, Tanzania, India and Brazil. In all this activity, a guarantee of fruitfulness was the support of monks and nuns praying constantly for the new foundations from the depths of their “withdrawal from the world”, lived at times to a heroic degree.
On 17 September 1993, during his meeting with the monks of the Sacred Hermitage of Camaldoli, Blessed John Paul II commented on the theme of their imminent General Chapter, “Choosing hope, choosing the future”, with these words: “Choosing hope and the future in the last analysis implies choosing God ... It means choosing Christ, the hope of every human being.” And he continued, “This particularly occurs in that form of life which God himself brought about in the Church, inspiring Saint Romuald to found the Benedictine family of Camaldoli, with its characteristic complementarity of hermitage and monastery, solitary life and cenobitic life in harmony with each other.” Moreover, my blessed Predecessor emphasized that “choosing God also means humbly and patiently cultivating, according to God’s design, ecumenical and interreligious dialogue”, always on the basis of fidelity to the original charism received from Saint Romuald and transmitted through a thousand years of varied tradition.
Encouraged by the visit from the Successor of Peter, and by his words, all of you Camaldolese monks and nuns have pursued your path, constantly seeking the right balance between the eremitical and the cenobitic spirit, between the need to dedicate yourselves totally to God in solitude, the need to support one another in communal prayer, and the need to welcome others so that they can draw upon the wellsprings of spiritual life and evaluate the events of the world with a truly Gospel-formed conscience. In this way you seek to attain that perfecta caritas that Saint Gregory the Great considered the point of arrival of every manifestation of faith, a commitment that finds confirmation in the motto of your coat of arms: “Ego Vobis, vos mihi”, a synthesis of the covenant formula between God and his people, and a source of the perennial vitality of your charism.
The Monastery of San Gregorio al Celio is the Roman setting for our celebration of the millennium of Camaldoli in company with His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury who, together with us, recognizes this Monastery as the birthplace of the link between Christianity in Britain and the Church of Rome. Today’s celebration is therefore marked by a profoundly ecumenical character which, as we know, is part and parcel of the modern Camaldolese spirit. This Roman Camaldolese Monastery has developed with Canterbury and the Anglican Communion, especially since the Second Vatican Council, links that now qualify as traditional. Today, for the third time, the Bishop of Rome is meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury in the home of Saint Gregory the Great. And it is right that it should be so, because it was from this Monastery that Pope Gregory chose Augustine and his forty monks and sent them to bring the Gospel to the Angles, a little over 1,400 years ago. The constant presence of monks in this place, over such a long period, is already in itself a testimony of God’s faithfulness to his Church, which we are happy to be able to proclaim to the whole world. We hope that the sign of our presence here together in front of the holy altar, where Gregory himself celebrated the eucharistic sacrifice, will remain not only as a reminder of our fraternal encounter, but also as a stimulus for all the faithful – both Catholic and Anglican – encouraging them, as they visit the glorious tombs of the holy Apostles and Martyrs in Rome, to renew their commitment to pray constantly and to work for unity, and to live fully in accordance with the “ut unum sint” that Jesus addressed to the Father.
This profound desire, that we have the joy of sharing, we entrust to the heavenly intercession of Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Romuald. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am very pleased to be among you today and I express my sincere gratitude to the Most Reverend José Guadalupe Martín Rábago, Archbishop of León, for his kind words of welcome. I greet the Mexican Bishops, and the Cardinals and other Bishops present here, and in a special way those who have come from Latin America and the Caribbean. I also extend a warm greeting to the authorities that are with us, as well as all who have gathered for this Holy Mass presided by the Successor of Peter.
We said, “A pure heart, create for me, O God” (Ps 50,12) during the responsorial psalm. This exclamation shows us how profoundly we must prepare to celebrate next week the great mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. It also helps us to look deeply into the human heart, especially in times of sorrow as well as hope, as are the present times for the people of Mexico and of Latin America.
The desire for a heart that would be pure, sincere, humble, acceptable to God was very much felt by Israel as it became aware of the persistence in its midst of evil and sin as a power, practically implacable and impossible to overcome. There was nothing left but to trust in God’s mercy and in the hope that he would change from within, from the heart, an unbearable, dark and hopeless situation. In this way recourse gained ground to the infinite mercy of the Lord who does not wish the sinner to die but to convert and live (cf. Ez Ez 33,11). A pure heart, a new heart, is one which recognizes that, of itself, it is impotent and places itself in God’s hands so as to continue hoping in his promises. Then the psalmist can say to the Lord with conviction: “Sinners will return to you” (Ps 50,15). And towards the end of the psalm he will give an explanation which is at the same time a firm conviction of faith: “A humble, contrite heart you will not spurn” (v. 19).
The history of Israel relates some great events and battles, but when faced with its more authentic existence, its decisive destiny, its salvation, it places its hope not in its own efforts, but in God who can create a new heart, not insensitive or proud. This should remind each one of us and our peoples that, when addressing the deeper dimension of personal and community life, human strategies will not suffice to save us. We must have recourse to the One who alone can give life in its fullness, because he is the essence of life and its author; he has made us sharers in the same through his Son Jesus Christ.
Today’s Gospel takes up the topic and shows us how this ancient desire for the fullness of life has actually been achieved in Christ. Saint John explains it in a passage in which the wish of some Greeks to see Jesus coincides with the moment in which the Lord is about to be glorified. Jesus responds to the question of the Greeks, who represent the pagan world, saying: “Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn 12,23). This is a strange response which seems inconsistent with the question asked by the Greeks. What has the glorification of Jesus to do with the request to meet him? But there is a relation. Someone might think – says Saint Augustine – that Jesus felt glorified because the Gentiles were coming to him. This would be similar to the applause of the multitudes who give “glory” to those who are grand in the world, as we would say today. But this is not so. “It was convenient that, before the wonder of his glorification, should come the humility of his passion” (In Joannis Ev 51,9, PL 35, 1766).
Jesus’ answer, announcing his imminent passion, means that a casual encounter in those moments would have been superficial and perhaps deceptive. The Greeks will see the one they wished to meet raised up on the cross from which he will attract all to himself (cf. Jn 12,32). There his “glory” will begin, because of his sacrifice of expiation for all, as the grain of wheat fallen to the ground that by dying germinates and produces abundant fruit. They will find the one whom, unknown to them, they were seeking in their hearts, the true God who is made visible to all peoples. This was how Our Lady of Guadalupe showed her divine Son to Saint Juan Diego, not as a powerful legendary hero but as the very God of the living, by whom all live, the Creator of persons, of closeness and immediacy, of heaven and earth (cf. Nican Mopohua, v.33). At that moment she did what she had done previously at the wedding feast of Cana. Faced with the embarrassment caused by the lack of wine, she told the servants clearly that the path to follow was her Son: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2,5).
Dear brothers and sisters, by coming here I have been able to visit the monument to Christ the King situated on top of the Cubilete. My venerable predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II, although he ardently desired to do so, was unable on his several journeys to this beloved land to visit this site of such significance for the faith of the Mexican people. I am sure that in heaven he is happy that the Lord has granted me the grace to be here with you and that he has blessed the millions of Mexicans who have venerated his relics in every corner of the country. This monument represents Christ the King. But his crowns, one of a sovereign, the other of thorns, indicate that his royal status does not correspond to how it has been or is understood by many. His kingdom does not stand on the power of his armies subduing others through force or violence. It rests on a higher power than wins over hearts: the love of God that he brought into the world with his sacrifice and the truth to which he bore witness. This is his sovereignty which no one can take from him and which no one should forget. Hence it is right that this shrine should be above all a place of pilgrimage, of fervent prayer, of conversion, of reconciliation, of the search for truth and the acceptance of grace. We ask Christ, to reign in our hearts, making them pure, docile, filled with hope and courageous in humility.
From this park, foreseen as a memorial of the bicentenary of the birth of the Mexican nation, bringing together many differences towards one destiny and one common quest, we ask Christ for a pure heart, where he as Prince of Peace may dwell “thanks to the power of God who is the power of goodness, the power of love”. But for God to dwell in us, we need to listen to him; we must allow his Word to challenge us every day, meditating upon it in our hearts after the example of Mary (cf. Lc 2,51). In this way we grow in friendship with him, we learn to understand what he expects from us and we are encouraged to make him known to others.
At Aparecida, the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean saw with clarity the need to confirm, renew and revitalize the newness of the Gospel rooted deeply in the history of these lands “on the basis of a personal and community encounter with Jesus Christ which raises up disciples and missionaries” (Final Document, 11). The Continental Mission now taking place in the various dioceses of this continent has the specific task of transmitting this conviction to all Christians and ecclesial communities so that they may resist the temptation of a faith that is superficial and routine, at times fragmentary and incoherent. Here we need to overcome fatigue related to faith and rediscover “the joy of being Christians, of being sustained by the inner happiness of knowing Christ and belonging to his Church. From this joy spring the energies that are needed to serve Christ in distressing situations of human suffering, placing oneself at his disposition and not falling back on one’s own comfort” (Address to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2011). This can be seen clearly in the saints who dedicated themselves fully to the cause of the Gospel with enthusiasm and joy without counting the cost, even of life itself. Their heart was centred entirely on Christ from whom they had learned what it means to love until the end.
In this sense the Year of Faith, to which I have convoked the whole Church, “is an invitation to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the only Saviour of the world […]. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy” (Porta Fidei 6, 7).
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to assist us in purifying our hearts, especially in view of the coming Easter celebrations, that we may enter more deeply the salvific mystery of her Son, as she made it known in this land. And let us also ask her to continue accompanying and protecting her Mexican and Latin American children, that Christ may reign in their lives and help them boldly to promote peace, harmony, justice and solidarity. Amen.
25332 Your Eminences,
Dear Brother Bishops,
It gives me great joy to be able to pray with all of you in this Basilica-Cathedral of León, dedicated to our Lady of Light. In the lovely painting venerated in this basilica, the Blessed Virgin holds her Son in one hand with immense tenderness while extending her other hand to succour sinners. This is how the Church in every age sees Mary. We praise her for giving us the Redeemer and we put our trust in her as the Mother whom her divine Son bequeathed to us from the Cross. For this reason, we invoke her frequently as “our hope” because she has shown us Jesus and passed down to us the great things which God constantly does for humanity. She does so simply, as a mother teaches her children at home.
A decisive sign of these great things is given to us in the reading just proclaimed at these Vespers. The people of Jerusalem and their leaders did not acknowledge Christ, yet, by condemning him to death, they fulfilled the words of the prophets (cf. Acts Ac 13,27). Human evil and ignorance simply cannot thwart the divine plan of salvation and redemption. Evil is simply incapable of that.
Another of God’s great works is evoked in the second of the psalms which we recited: “the rock” turns into “a pool, and flint into a spring of water” (Ps 113,8). What might have been a stumbling block and a scandal has, by Jesus’ triumph over death, become a cornerstone: “This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes” (Ps 117,23). There is no reason, then, to give in to the despotism of evil. Let us instead ask the risen Lord to manifest his power in our weakness and need.
I have greatly looked forward to this meeting with you, the Pastors of Christ’s pilgrim Church in Mexico and in the different countries of this great continent. I see this meeting as an occasion to turn our gaze together to Christ, who has entrusted you with the splendid duty of preaching the Gospel among these peoples of sturdy and deep-rooted Catholic faith. Certainly your dioceses face a number of challenges and difficulties at the present moment. Yet, in the sure knowledge that the Lord is risen, we are able to move forward confidently, in the conviction that evil does not have the last word in human history, and that God is able to open up new horizons to a hope that does not disappoint (cf. Rom Rm 5,5).
I thank the Archbishop of Tlalnepantla, President of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference and the Latin American Episcopal Council, for the cordial welcome offered me in your name. I ask you, the various Pastors of the local churches that, on returning to your Dioceses, you bring to your faithful the warm affection of the Pope, who holds all their sufferings and aspirations deep in his heart.
In you I see reflected the concerns of the flocks which you shepherd, and I am reminded of the Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops, where the participants applaud after an intervention by someone who exercises his ministry in particularly troubling situations for the Church’s life and mission. That applause is a sign of deep faith in the Lord and fraternity in the apostolate, as well as gratitude and admiration for those who sow the Gospel amid thorns, some in the form of persecution, others in the form of social exclusion or contempt. Neither are concerns lacking, for want of means and human resources, or for limitations imposed on the freedom of the Church in carrying out her mission.
The Successor of Peter shares these concerns and he is grateful for your patient and humble pastoral outreach. You are not alone amid your trials or in your successes in the work of evangelization. All of us are one in sufferings and in consolation (cf. 2Co 1,5). Know that you can count on a special place in the prayers of the one who has received from Christ the charge of confirming his brethren in faith (cf. Lk Lc 22,31). He now encourages you in your mission of making our Lord Jesus Christ ever better known, loved and followed in these lands, and he urges you not to let yourselves be intimidated by obstacles along the way.
The Catholic faith has significantly marked the life, customs and history of this continent, in which many nations are commemorating the bicentennial of their independence. That was an historical moment in which the name of Christ continued to shine brightly. That name was brought here through the labours of outstanding and self-sacrificing missionaries who proclaimed it boldly and wisely. They gave their all for Christ, demonstrating that in him men and women encounter the truth of their being and the strength needed both to live fully and to build a truly humane society in accordance with the will of their Creator. This ideal of putting the Lord first and making God’s word effective in all, through the use of your own native expressions and best traditions, continues to provide outstanding inspiration for the Church’s Pastors today.
The initiatives planned for the Year of Faith must be aimed at guiding men and women to Christ; his grace will enable them to cast off the bonds of sin and slavery, and to progress along the path of authentic and responsible freedom. A great contribution will be made to this goal by the continental mission being launched from Aparecida, which is already reaping a harvest of ecclesial renewal in the particular Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean. This includes the study, dissemination and prayerful reading of sacred Scripture, which proclaims the love of God and our salvation. I encourage you to continue to share freely the treasures of the Gospel, so that they can become a powerful source of hope, freedom and salvation for everyone (cf. Rom Rm 1,16). May you also be faithful witnesses and interpreters of the words of the incarnate Son, whose life was to do the will of the Father and who, as a man among men, gave himself up completely for our sake, even unto death.
Dear Brother Bishops, amid the challenges now facing us in our pastoral care and our preaching of the Gospel, it is essential to show great concern for your seminarians, encouraging them humbly “to know nothing … except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1Co 2,2). No less fundamental is the need to remain close to your priests; they must never lack the understanding and encouragement of their Bishop, nor, if necessary, his paternal admonition in response to improper attitudes. Priests are your first co-workers in the sacramental communion of the priesthood, and you ought to show them a constant and privileged attention. The same should be said for the different forms of consecrated life, whose charisms need to be gratefully esteemed and responsibly encouraged, in a way respectful of the gift received. Greater attention is due to the members of the lay faithful most engaged in the fields of catechesis, liturgical animation, charitable activity and social commitment. Their faith formation is critical if the Gospel is to become present and fruitful in contemporary society. It is not right for them to feel treated like second-class citizens in the Church, despite the committed work which they carry out in accordance with their proper vocation, and the great sacrifice which this dedication at times demands of them. In all of this, it is particularly important for Pastors to ensure that a spirit of communion reigns among priests, religious and the lay faithful, and that sterile divisions, criticism and unhealthy mistrust are avoided.
With these heartfelt words of encouragement, I urge you to be vigilant in proclaiming day and night the glory of God, which is the life of mankind. Stand beside those who are marginalized as the result of force, power or a prosperity which is blind to the poorest of the poor. The Church cannot separate the praise of God from service to others. The one God, our Father and Creator, has made us brothers and sisters: to be human is to be a brother and guardian to our neighbour. Along this path, in union with the whole human family, the Church must relive and make present what Jesus was: the Good Samaritan who came from afar, entered our human history, lifted us up and sought to heal us.
Beloved Brother Bishops, the Church in Latin America, which has often been joined to Christ in his passion, must continue to be a seed of hope enabling the world to see how the fruits of the resurrection have come to enrich these lands.
May the Mother of God, invoked as Our Lady of Light, dispel the darkness of our world and illumine our path, so that we can confirm the faith of the people of Latin America amid their struggles and aspirations, with integrity, valour and firm faith in the One who can do all things and loves all men and women to the fullest. Amen.
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I give thanks to God who has allowed me to come to you and to make this much anticipated trip. I greet Bishop Dionisio García Ibáñez, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, and I thank him for his warm words of welcome offered on behalf of everyone. I greet the Bishops of Cuba and those who have come from elsewhere, and the priests, religious men and women, seminarians and lay faithful present for this celebration. I cannot forget all those who, for reasons of illness, advanced age or for other motives, are not able to join us. I also greet the civil Authorities who have graciously wished to join us.
This first Holy Mass which I have the joy of celebrating during my pastoral visit to this country, takes place in the context of the Marian Jubilee Year called to honour and to venerate Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Patroness of Cuba, in this fourth centenary of the discovery and presence of her venerable statue in this blessed land. I cannot forget the sacrifices and the dedication with which this jubilee has been prepared, especially spiritually. I was deeply touched to hear of the fervour with which Mary has been welcomed and invoked by so many Cubans during her journey to every corner of the island.
These important events in the Church in Cuba take on a special lustre because of the feast celebrated today throughout the universal Church: the Annunciation of the Lord to the Virgin Mary. The Incarnation of the Son of God is the central mystery of the Christian faith, and in it Mary occupies a central place. But, we ask, what is the meaning of this mystery? And, what importance does it have for our concrete lives?
First of all, let us see what the Incarnation means. In the Gospel of Saint Luke we heard the words of the angel to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lc 1,35). In Mary, the Son of God is made man, fulfilling in this way the prophecy of Isaiah: “Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, which means ‘God-with-us’” (Is 7,14). Jesus, the Word made flesh, is truly God-with-us, who has come to live among us and to share our human condition. The Apostle Saint John expresses it in the following way: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1,14). The expression, “became flesh” points to our human reality in most concrete and tangible way. In Christ, God has truly come into the world, he has entered into our history, he has set his dwelling among us, thus fulfilling the deepest desire of human beings that the world may truly become a home worthy of humanity. On the other hand, when God is put aside, the world becomes an inhospitable place for man, and frustrates creation’s true vocation to be a space for the covenant, for the “Yes” to the love between God and humanity who responds to him. Mary did so as the first fruit of believers with her unreserved “Yes” to the Lord.
For this reason, contemplating the mystery of the Incarnation, we cannot fail to turn our eyes to her so as to be filled with wonder, gratitude and love at seeing how our God, coming into the world, wished to depend upon the free consent of one of his creatures. Only from the moment when the Virgin responded to the angel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lc 1,38), did the eternal Word of the Father began his human existence in time. It is touching to see how God not only respects human freedom: he almost seems to require it. And we see also how the beginning of the earthly life of the Son of God was marked by a double “Yes” to the saving plan of the Father - that of Christ and that of Mary. This obedience to God is what opens the doors of the world to the truth, to salvation. God has created us as the fruit of his infinite love; hence, to live in accordance with his will is the way to encounter our genuine identity, the truth of our being, while apart from God we are alienated from ourselves and are hurled into the void. The obedience of faith is true liberty, authentic redemption, which allows us to unite ourselves to the love of Jesus in his determination to conform himself to the will of the Father. Redemption is always this process of the lifting up of the human will to full communion with the divine will (cf. Lectio Divina with the parish priests of Rome, 18 February 2010).
Dear brothers and sisters, today we praise the Most Holy Virgin for her faith, and with Saint Elizabeth we too say, “Blessed is she who believed” (Lc 1,45). As Saint Augustine said, Mary conceived Christ by faith in her heart before she conceived him physically in her womb; Mary believed and what she believed was came to be in her (cf. Sermo 215, 4: PL 38, 1074). Let us ask the Lord to strengthen our faith, to make it active and fruitful in love. Let us implore him that, like her, we may welcome the word of God into our hearts, and carry it out with docility and constancy.
The Virgin Mary, by her unique role in the mystery of Christ, represents the exemplar and model of the Church. The Church, like the Mother of Christ, is also called to embrace in herself the mystery of God who comes to live in her. Dear brothers and sisters, I know with what effort, boldness and self-sacrifice you work every day so that, in the concrete circumstances of your country, and at this moment in history, the Church will better present her true face as a place in which God draws near and encounters humanity. The Church, the living body of Christ, has the mission of prolonging on earth the salvific presence of God, of opening the world to something greater than itself, to the love and the light of God. It is worth the effort, dear brothers and sisters, to devote your entire life to Christ, to grow in his friendship each day and to feel called to proclaim the beauty and the goodness of his life to every person, to all our brothers and sisters. I encourage you in this task of sowing the word of God in the world and offering to everyone the true nourishment of the body of Christ. Easter is already approaching; let us determine to follow Jesus without fear or doubts on his journey to the Cross. May we accept with patience and faith whatever opposition or affliction may come, with the conviction that, in his Resurrection, he has crushed the power of evil which darkens everything, and has brought the dawn of a new world, the world of God, of light, of truth and happiness. The Lord will not fail to bless with abundant fruits the generosity of your commitment.
The mystery of the Incarnation, in which God draws near to us, also shows us the incomparable dignity of every human life. In his loving plan, from the beginning of creation, God has entrusted to the family founded on matrimony the most lofty mission of being the fundamental cell of society and an authentic domestic church. With this certainty, you, dear husbands and wives, are called to be, especially for your children, a real and visible sign of the love of Christ for the Church. Cuba needs the witness of your fidelity, your unity, your capacity to welcome human life, especially that of the weakest and most needy.
Dear brothers and sisters, before the gaze of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, I appeal to you to reinvigorate your faith, that you may live in Christ and for Christ, and armed with peace, forgiveness and understanding, that you may strive to build a renewed and open society, a better society, one more worthy of humanity, and which better reflects the goodness of God. Amen.
Benedict XVI Homilies 10032