On the Reality of Evil
"It Is Not 'Optional' for Christians to Take Up the Cross"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 31, 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 the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Today, too, the apostle Peter is in the foreground of the Gospel reading. But while last Sunday we admired his straightforward faith in Jesus, whom he proclaimed Messiah and Son of God, this time, in the episode that immediately follows, he displays a faith that is still immature and too much influenced by the “mentality of this world” (cf. Romans 12:2).
When, in fact, Jesus begins to speak openly about the fate that awaits him in Jerusalem, when he says that he must suffer much, be killed and rise again, Peter protests, saying: “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you” (Matthew 16:22).
It is evident that the Master and the disciple follow two opposed ways of thinking. Peter, according to a human logic, is convinced that God would never allow his Son to end his mission dying on the cross. Jesus, on the contrary, knows that the Father, in his great love for men, sent him to give his life for them, and if this means the passion and the cross, it is right that such should happen.
On the other hand, he knows that the resurrection will be the last word. Peter’s protest, though spoken in good faith and out of sincere love of the Master, sounds to Jesus like temptation, an invitation to save himself, while it is only in losing his life that his life will be returned to him eternally for all of us.
If to save us the Son of God had to suffer and die crucified, it certainly was not because of a cruel design of the heavenly Father. The cause of it is the gravity of the sickness of which he must cure us: an evil so serious and deadly that it will require all of his blood. In fact, it is with his death and resurrection that Jesus defeated sin and death, reestablishing the lordship of God.
But the battle is not over: Evil exists and resists in every generation, even in our own. What are the horrors of war, violence visited on the innocent, the misery and injustice that persecutes the weak, if not the opposition of evil to the Kingdom of God? And how does one respond to such evil if not with the unarmed love that defeats hatred, life that does not fear death? This is the mysterious power that Jesus used at the cost of not being understood and of being abandoned by many of his followers.
Dear brothers and sisters, to complete the work of salvation, the Redeemer continues to draw to himself and his mission men and women who are ready to take up the cross and follow him. Just as with Christ, it is not “optional” for Christians to take up the cross; it is rather a mission to be embraced out of love.
In our present world, where the forces that divide and destroy seem to prevail, Christ does not cease to propose his clear invitation to all: Whosoever wants to be my disciple, he must renounce his selfishness and carry the cross with me.
Let us invoke of the Holy Virgin, who was the first to follow Jesus and followed him to the way of the cross. May she help us to follow the Lord with decisiveness so as to experience from this point on, and in trial too, the glory of the resurrection.
[Following the Angelus the Pope said the following:]
In recent weeks the news has reported the growth in the episodes of irregular immigration in Africa. It is not rare that crossing the Mediterranean toward the European continent -- which is seen as a place of hope to escape adverse and often unbearable conditions -- ends in tragedy; what happened a few days ago seemed to surpass previous incidents in terms of the number of victims.
Migration is a phenomenon that has been present from the dawn of human history, and it has always, for this reason, characterized the relations between peoples and nations. The emergency that migration has become in our times, nevertheless, calls out to us and, while it solicits our solidarity, demands, at the same time, effective political answers.
I know that many regional, national, and international institutions are occupying themselves with the question of irregular migration: I applaud them and encourage them to continue this meritorious work with a sense of responsibility and humanitarian spirit. The countries of origin must also show a sense of responsibility not only because it is a matter of their own citizens, but also to remove the causes of irregular migration and cut off at the root all of the forms of criminality that are linked to these causes.
For their part, European countries, and all other countries that are the destination of immigration, are called to, among other things, develop through consensus initiatives and structures that continue to adapt themselves to the needs of irregular migrants. The latter must be made aware, on the one hand, of the value of their own lives, which are a singular good, always precious, that should be safeguarded in the face of the grave risks that the pursuit of better situations exposes them to and, on the other hand, the duty of legality that is imposed on all.
As the [Pope], I feel a profound obligation to recall everyone’s attention to this problem and to ask for the generous cooperation of individuals and institutions to deal with it and to find solutions. May the Lord accompany us and make our efforts fruitful!
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
[Then the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals to his disciples his coming passion, death and resurrection. He also teaches us that, to follow him, we too must enter into the mystery of the cross. Faithful obedience to God and loving service of our neighbour do not always come easily. But to embrace the cross of Christ is to share in his victory. May the Lord keep us in his love! I wish you all a pleasant stay in Castel Gandolfo and Rome, and a blessed Sunday!
© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Monday, September 01, 2008
Benedict XVI, On the Reality of Evil
On the Reality of Evil