VATICAN CITY, FEB. 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Yesterday, the spiritual exercises concluded here in the apostolic palace. As happens every year this retreat saw the Pope and his co-workers in the Roman Curia united in prayer and meditation. I thank those who were near to us spiritually: May the Lord give them recompense for their generosity.
Today, the Second Sunday of Lent, continuing along the way of penitence, the liturgy, after having presented the Gospel of Jesus' temptations in the desert last Sunday, invites us to reflect on the extraordinary event of the transfiguration on the mountain. Considered together, both episodes anticipate the paschal mystery: Jesus' struggle with the tempter is the prelude to the great final duel of the passion, while the light of his transfigured body anticipates the glory of the resurrection.
On the one hand we see Jesus fully man: He even shares temptation with us. On the other hand, we contemplate the Son of God: He divinizes our humanity. In this way we can say that these two Sundays act as pillars upon which rest the whole edifice of Lent right up to Easter, and, indeed, the whole structure of Christian life, which essentially consists in the paschal dynamism -- from death to life.
Mountains -- like Tabor and Sinai -- are the place of nearness to God. In relation to daily existence, the mountain is the elevated space where the pure air of creation is breathed. It is the place of prayer, where one is in the presence of the Lord, as were Moses and Elijah, who appeared alongside the transfigured Jesus and spoke to him of the "exodus" that awaited him in Jerusalem, that is, his Passover.
The transfiguration is an event of prayer: Praying, Jesus is immersed in God, he is united intimately to him, he adheres with his human will to the Father's will of love, and in this way light invades him and the truth of his being appears visibly: He is God, light from light. Even his robes become white and luminous. This makes one think of baptism, of the white robes worn by the neophytes. Those who are reborn in baptism are clothed in light, anticipating heavenly existence, which the Book of Revelation represents with the symbol of white robes (cf. Revelation 7:9,13).
This is the crucial point: The Transfiguration is an anticipation of the Resurrection, but this presupposes death. Jesus manifests his glory to the apostles so that they have the strength to face the scandal of the cross and understand that it is necessary to pass through many tribulations to reach the kingdom of God. The voice of the Father, which resounds from on high, proclaims Jesus as his beloved Son, as in the baptism in the Jordan, adding: "Listen to him" (Matthew 17:5). To enter into life it is necessary to listen to Jesus, to follow him along the way of the cross, carrying, like him, the hope of the resurrection in our heart. "Spe salvi," saved in hope. Today we can say: "Transfigured in hope."
Turning now in prayer to Mary, we recognize in her the human creature interiorly transfigured by the grace of Christ, and we entrust ourselves to her guidance to continue in the journey of Lent with faith.
[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following in Italian:]
I am following with concern the persistent manifestations of tension in Lebanon. For almost three months the country has not been able to appoint a head of state. The efforts to calm the crisis and the support offered by numerous high-profile members of the international community, even if they have not yet achieved anything, demonstrate the intention to identify a president who will be a president for all Lebanese and in this way create a basis for overcoming the existing divisions. Unfortunately, reasons for worry are not lacking, above all because of the strange verbal violence and because of those who put their trust in force of arms and in the physical elimination of adversaries.
Together with the Maronite patriarch and all the Lebanese bishops, I ask you to join with my supplication of Our Lady of Lebanon, that she encourage the citizens of that dear nation, and the politicians in particular, to work without ceasing for reconciliation, for a truly sincere dialogue, for peaceful co-existence and for the good of a homeland deeply felt as common.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
[The Holy Father said in English:]
I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Angelus, especially the group of pilgrims from Saint Ansgar's Cathedral in Copenhagen. I pray that your visit to Rome may strengthen your faith and deepen your love for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. In this Sunday's Gospel, we hear how Jesus was transfigured in the presence of his three closest followers, Peter, James and John. They were granted a glimpse of Christ in glory, and they heard the voice of the Father urging them to listen to his beloved Son. As we continue our Lenten journey, we renew our resolve to listen attentively to the Son of God, and we draw comfort and hope from the revelation of his glory. Upon all of you here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God's abundant blessings.
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