|01-05-2011 - Traces, n. 5
God is Searching for Us: He Has Risen for Our Own History of Today
HOMILY AT THE CHRISM MASS Saint Peter's Basilica, Holy Thursday, April 21, 2011
HOMILY AT THE EASTER VIGIL Saint Peter's Basilica, Holy Saturday, April 23, 2011
URBI ET ORBI MESSAGGE St. Peter's Square, Holy Easter 2011
HOMILY AT THE CHRISM MASS
God Himself is searching for us. The fact that He Himself was made man and came down into the depths of human existence, even into the darkness of death, shows us how much God loves His creature, man. Driven by love, God has set out toward us. "Seeking Me, you sat down weary... let such labor not be in vain!", we pray in the Dies Irae. God is searching for me. Do I want to recognize Him? Do I want to be known by Him, found by Him? God loves us. He comes to meet the unrest of our hearts, the unrest of our questioning and seeking, with the unrest of His own heart, which leads Him to accomplish the ultimate for us. That restlessness for God, that journeying toward Him, so as to know and love Him better, must not be extinguished in us.…"Constantly seek His face," says one of the Psalms (105:4). Saint Augustine comments as follows: God is so great as to surpass infinitely all our knowing and all our being. Knowledge of God is never exhausted. For all eternity, with ever increasing joy, we can always continue to seek Him, so as to know Him and love Him more and more. "Our heart is restless until it rests in You," said Saint Augustine at the beginning of his Confessions. Yes, man is restless, because whatever is finite is too little. But are we truly restless for Him? Have we perhaps become resigned to His absence, do we not seek to be self-sufficient? Let us not allow our humanity to be diminished in this way! Let us remain constantly on a journey toward Him, longing for Him, always open to receive new knowledge and love!...
In and for the vast world, which was largely ignorant of God, Israel had to be as it were a shrine of God for all peoples, exercising a priestly function vis-à-vis the world. It had to bring the world to God, to open it up to Him. In his great baptismal catechesis, Saint Peter applied this privilege and this commission of Israel to the entire community of the baptized, proclaiming: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God's people" (1 Pet 2:9f.). Baptism and Confirmation are an initiation into this people of God that spans the world; the anointing that takes place in Baptism and Confirmation is an anointing that confers this priestly ministry toward mankind. Christians are a priestly people for the world. Christians should make the living God visible to the world, they should bear witness to Him and lead people toward Him. When we speak of this task in which we share by virtue of our Baptism, it is no reason to boast. It poses a question to us that makes us both joyful and anxious: are we truly God's shrine in and for the world? Do we open up the pathway to God for others or do we rather conceal it? Have not we–the people of God–become to a large extent a people of unbelief and distance from God? Is it perhaps the case that the West, the heartlands of Christianity, are tired of their faith, bored by their history and culture, and no longer wish to know faith in Jesus Christ? We have reason to cry out at this time to God: "Do not allow us to become a 'non-people'! Make us recognize You again! Truly, You have anointed us with Your love, You have poured out Your Holy Spirit upon us. Grant that the power of Your Spirit may become newly effective in us, so that we may bear joyful witness to Your message!"
HOMILY AT THE EASTER VIGIL
The structure of the week is overturned. No longer does it point toward the seventh day, as the time to participate in God's rest. It sets out from the first day as the day of encounter with the Risen Lord…. This revolutionary development… can be explained only by the fact that something utterly new happened that day. The first day of the week was the third day after Jesus' death. It was the day when He showed Himself to His disciples as the Risen Lord. In truth, this encounter had something unsettling about it. The world had changed. This Man who had died was now living with a life that was no longer threatened by any death. A new form of life had been inaugurated, a new dimension of creation. The first day, according to the Genesis account, is the day on which creation begins. Now it was the day of creation in a new way, it had become the day of the new creation. We celebrate the first day. And in so doing we celebrate God the Creator and His creation. Yes, we believe in God, the Creator of heaven and earth. And we celebrate the God who was made man, who suffered, died, was buried, and rose again. We celebrate the definitive victory of the Creator and of His creation. We celebrate this day as the origin and the goal of our existence. We celebrate it because now, thanks to the risen Lord, it is definitively established that reason is stronger than unreason, truth stronger than lies, love stronger than death. We celebrate the first day because we know that the black line drawn across creation does not last forever. We celebrate it because we know that those words from the end of the creation account have now been definitively fulfilled: "God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good."
URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE
Easter morning brings us news that is ancient yet ever new: Christ is risen! The echo of this event, which issued forth from Jerusalem twenty centuries ago, continues to resound in the Church, deep in whose heart lives the vibrant faith of Mary, Mother of Jesus, the faith of Mary Magdalene and the other women who first discovered the empty tomb, and the faith of Peter and the other Apostles.
Right down to our own time–even in these days of advanced communications technology–the faith of Christians is based on that same news, on the testimony of those sisters and brothers who saw firstly the stone that had been rolled away from the empty tomb and then the mysterious messengers who testified that Jesus, the Crucified, was risen. And then Jesus Himself, the Lord and Master, living and tangible, appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and finally to all eleven, gathered in the Upper Room (cf. Mk 16:9-14).
The Resurrection of Christ is not the fruit of speculation or mystical experience: it is an event which, while it surpasses history, nevertheless happens at a precise moment in history and leaves an indelible mark upon it. The light which dazzled the guards keeping watch over Jesus' tomb has traversed time and space. It is a different kind of light, a divine light, that has rent asunder the darkness of death and has brought to the world the splendor of God, the splendor of Truth and Goodness.
Just as the sun's rays in springtime cause the buds on the branches of the trees to sprout and open up, so the radiance that streams forth from Christ's Resurrection gives strength and meaning to every human hope, to every expectation, wish, and plan. Hence, the entire cosmos is rejoicing today, caught up in the springtime of humanity, which gives voice to creation's silent hymn of praise. The Easter alleluia, resounding in the Church as she makes her pilgrim way through the world, expresses the silent exultation of the universe and above all the longing of every human soul that is sincerely open to God, giving thanks to Him for His infinite goodness, beauty, and truth. "In your Resurrection, O Christ, let heaven and earth rejoice." …In heaven all is peace and gladness. But alas, it is not so on earth! Here, in this world of ours, the Easter alleluia still contrasts with the cries and laments that arise from so many painful situations: deprivation, hunger, disease, war, violence. Yet it was for this that Christ died and rose again! He died on account of sin, including ours today; He rose for the redemption of history, including our own.