Homily Of Pope Benedict XVI
[San Giuliano park - Mestre, Sunday, May 8, 2011]
Dear brothers and sisters!
Dear brothers and sisters!
The Gospel of the third Sunday of Easter - that we just heard - this episode of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24, 13-35), a story that never ends to amaze us and move us. This episode shows the impact that the encounter with the risen Jesus in the two disciples: conversion from despair to hope, the conversion from sadness to joy, and also conversion to community life. Sometimes when we talk about conversion, we think its only hard part of detachment and renunciation. In contrast, the Christian conversion is also and above all a source of joy, hope and love. It is always the work of the risen Christ, Lord of life, which obtained this grace for us through his passion and we communicate by virtue of his resurrection.
I have come among you as Bishop of Rome and successor of the Petrine ministry to confirm fidelity to the Gospel and communion. I came to share with the bishops and priests care for the missionary proclamation, which we must all participate in a coordinated and reliable service to the cause of the Kingdom of God. You who are here today, you represent Ecclesiastical Communities born of the Mother Church of Aquileia. As in the past, these churches were distinguished by their apostolic zeal and pastoral dynamism, so today it must also promote and defend the truth with courage and unity of the faith. We must realize the Christian hope for modern man, often overwhelmed by large and serious issues that bring into crisis the very foundations of his being and his action.
You live in a context in which Christianity presents itself as the faith which was accompanied, during the centuries, the path of so many people, even through persecution and very hard trials. The multiple stories everywhere are the eloquent expression of that faith: churches, works of art, hospitals, libraries, schools, the very framework of your city and the countryside and mountains, fully studded references to Christ. And yet, this danger today belong to Christ be emptied of its truth content and its deepest, it threatens to become a horizon that embraces life superficially - and its social and cultural aspects rather, it may be reduced to a Christianity in which the experience of faith in Jesus crucified and risen does not illuminate the path of life, as we heard in today's Gospel about the two disciples in Emmaus, who after the crucifixion of Jesus, were returning home plunged in doubt, in sadness and disappointment. This attitude is, unfortunately, also spread on our land: this is when the disciples of today move away from the Jerusalem of the crucified and risen Saviour, by no longer believing in the power and the living presence of Lord. The problem of evil, pain and suffering, the problem of injustice and oppression, fear of others, strangers and those who arrive later in our land and seem to undermine what we amount to, leads Christians today with sadness, we pray that the Lord frees us from evil, pain, suffering, fear, injustice.
It is then necessary for each of us, as it occurred for the two disciples of Emmaus, to be instructed by Jesus: first by listening and loving the Word of God, read in light of the Easter Mystery, for it warms our heart and enlightens our mind and it helps us to interpret life events and make sense of them. He must then sit down at table with the Lord, becoming its guests, so humble that his presence in the sacrament of his Body and his Blood we return the eye of faith, to watch everyone and everything with the eyes of God, in light of his love. Staying with Jesus who stayed with us, understand their lifestyle given him the logical choice of our own communion, solidarity and sharing. The Eucharist is the highest expression of Jesus' gift of himself and is a constant invitation to live our lives in the logic Eucharist as a gift to God and others.
The Gospel says that the two disciples, after recognizing Jesus in the breaking of bread, "even at this time, [they] got up and returned to Jerusalem" ( Lk 24, 33). They feel the need to return to Jerusalem and tell the extraordinary experience: the encounter with the Risen Lord. It is necessary to accomplish a great effort so that every Christian here in the north-east as in other parts of the world becomes a witness ready to announce with vigor and joy the event of death and the resurrection of Christ. I know the care that in so far as, churches of Triveneto, you turn to try to understand the reasons of the heart of modern man and how, you claiming the ancient Christian traditions, you care to trace the lines orientation of the new evangelization, by carefully considering the many challenges of today and rethinking the future of this region. I desire, through my presence, support your work and send all the confidence in the intense pastoral program launched by your pastors, hoping for successful engagement on the part of all components of the ecclesial community.
Even a traditionally Catholic nation, however, may feel negatively or assimilate almost unconsciously, the repercussions of a culture that eventually suggest a way of thinking in which the Gospel message is openly refused, impeded or hidden. I know how your involvement has been and continues to be big to defend the eternal values of Christian faith. I encourage you to never give in to temptations recurrent hedonistic culture of consumerism and materialism calls. Accept the invitation of the Apostle Peter, contained in the second reading today, "to behave with fear during the time of your exile "(1 Peter 1:17), an invitation that is realized in a life intensely lived on the roads of our world, in the consciousness of the goal: unity with God in Christ crucified and risen. Indeed, "our faith and hope are addressed to God" (1 Peter 1: 21) they are addressed to God as rooted in him, based in his love and loyalty. Over the centuries, your churches have experienced a rich tradition of holiness and generous service to your brothers, through the work of priests, monks and nuns of active and contemplative life zealots. If we want to listen to their spiritual teachings, it is not difficult to recognize the personal appeal and one that they send to us: Be holy! Put Christ at the centre of your life! Build on the Him the building of your existence. In Jesus, you will find the strength to open yourself to others and to yourselves, by their example, a gift for the whole humanity.
Aquileia is surrounded by people united with different languages and cultures, gathered not only by political demands but, more importantly, through faith in Christ and civilization inspired by the Gospel teaching, Civilization of Love. The churches are called Aquileia generated by today to strengthen this ancient spiritual unity, especially in light of the phenomenon of immigration and new geopolitical situations which have arisen. Christian faith can certainly contribute to such a concrete program for the full and harmonious development of man and society in which he lives. My presence among you will therefore also be a strong support for efforts being made to promote solidarity between your dioceses in the north-east. In addition, she wants to be an encouragement to every initiative that seeks to overrun these divisions that could frustrate the concrete aspirations to justice and peace.
Dear brothers, this is my wish, this is prayer to God that I extend to you all, invoking the intercession of the Virgin Mary and many saints and blessed, among whom I remember at the heart, Saint Pius X and Blessed John XXIII , and the venerable Giuseppe Toniolo, whose beatification is now at hand. These lights of the Gospel are the greatest asset of your area: Follow their examples and teachings, by combining with the current requirements. Trust: The Risen Lord walks with you yesterday, today and forever.