The first of the three temptations to which Satan subjects Jesus originates in hunger, that is, in material need: "If you are the Son of God command this stone to become bread". But Jesus responds with Sacred Scripture: "Man shall not live by bread alone" (Luke 4: 3-4; cf. Deuteronomy 8: 3). Then the Devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth and says: all this will be yours if, prostrating yourself, you worship me. This is the deception of power, and an attempt which Jesus was to unmask and reject: "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve" (cf. Luke 4: 5-8; Deuteronomy 6: 13). Not adoration of power, but only of God, of truth and love. Lastly, the Tempter suggests to Jesus that he work a spectacular miracle: that he throw himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple and let the angels save him so that everyone might believe in him. However, Jesus answers that God must never be put to the test (cf. Deuteronomy 6: 16). We cannot "do an experiment" in which God has to respond and show that he is God: we must believe in him! We should not make God "the substance" of "our experiment". Still referring to Sacred Scripture, Jesus puts the only authentic criterion obedience, conformity to God's will, which is the foundation of our existence before human criteria. This is also a fundamental teaching for us: if we carry God's word in our minds and hearts, if it enters our lives, if we trust in God, we can reject every kind of deception by the Tempter. Furthermore, Christ's image as the new Adam emerges clearly from this account. He is the Son of God, humble and obedient to the Father, unlike Adam and Eve who in the Garden of Eden succumbed to the seduction of the evil spirit, of being immortal without God.
Lent is like a long "retreat" in which to re-enter oneself and listen to God's voice in order to overcome the temptations of the Evil One and to find the truth of our existence. It is a time, we may say, of spiritual "training" in order to live alongside Jesus not with pride and presumption but rather by using the weapons of faith: namely prayer, listening to the Word of God and penance. In this way we shall succeed in celebrating Easter in truth, ready to renew our baptismal promises. May the Virgin Mary help us so that, guided by the Holy Spirit, we may live joyfully and fruitfully this Season of grace. May she intercede in particular for me and for my collaborators of the Roman Curia, who begin the Spiritual Exercises this evening.
After the Angelus:
I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially the boys and girls of the London Oratory Junior Choir. In today's Gospel the Church invites us to contemplate Christ's victory over temptation and to imitate his complete obedience to the Father's will. May the Lenten Season which we have now begun draw us closer to the Lord in prayer and prepare us to celebrate worthily his victory over sin and death at Easter. Upon all of you I invoke God's abundant Blessings!
I wish you all a peaceful Sunday and a good Lenten journey.
20 February 2013
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the words of Pope Benedict XVI, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of Godís encouragements to all of us.
6. "Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out'" (Ezekiel 34: 11).
On the feast of the Chair of St Peter, the liturgy once again offers us the famous oracle of the prophet Ezekiel, in which God reveals himself as the Shepherd of his people. Indeed, the chair is inseparable from the pastoral staff, because Christ, Teacher and Lord, came to us as the Good Shepherd (cf. John 10: 1-18). This is how Simon, the fisherman of Capernaum, knew him: he experienced his tender and merciful love and was won over by it. His apostolic vocation and mission, summed up in the new name of Peter that he received from the Master, is based entirely on his relationship with him from the first meeting, to which his brother Andrew had called him (cf. John 1: 40-42), until the last one on the lake shore, when the Risen One charged him to tend his flock (cf. John 21: 15-19). In between is the long journey of discipleship, in which the divine Master leads Simon to a profound conversion, which experienced the tragic hours of the Passion but then led to the bright joy of Easter.
Continue next page ...
25 February 2013
On 22 February 2013, the Universal Church celebrated the Feast of Saint Peterís Chair. Here are the Readings being read in Mass throughout the world on the same day:
1st Reading: 1 Peter 5:1-4 (see Encouragements-56),
Responsorial: Psalm 23:1-6 (see Encouragements-50) &
Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-19 (see Encouragements-70).
We have extracted the past Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II & Pope Benedict XVI to share with you so that you could similarly be encouraged:
EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION WITH THE NEW CARDINALS
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Thursday, 22 February 2001
1. "'Who do you say that I am?'. Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'" (Matthew 16: 15-16).
This conversation between Christ and his disciples, which we have just heard again, is always relevant to the life of the Church and of Christians. At every moment in her history, especially those which are the most decisive, Jesus questions his followers and, after asking them what "people" think of him, he narrows the field and asks them: "But who do you say that I am?".
We heard this question echoing in the background throughout the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. And every day the Church has ceaselessly replied in a unanimous profession of faith: "You are the Christ, the Saviour of the world, yesterday, today and for ever". A universal answer, in which the voices of the Pastors and faithful of the whole People of God are one with the voice of Peter's Successor.
Let us thank God together for founding his Church on the rock of Peter. As the opening prayer suggests, let us pray intensely that amid the upheavals of the world, she may not be shaken but advance with courage and trust.
3. But permit me first of all to express my joy and gratitude to the Lord for you, dear friends and venerable Brothers, who are now members of the College. Once again I offer you my most cordial greeting, which I extend to your relatives and to the faithful gathered here, as well as to the communities you come from, which are spiritually united with our celebration today.
I consider it providential to celebrate the feast of the Chair of Peter with you and with the entire College, because this is a remarkably eloquent sign of unity with which we begin the post-Jubilee period together. It is a sign which at the same time invites us to reflect more deeply on the Petrine ministry, to which your role as Cardinals is particularly related.
4. "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church" (Matthew 16: 13-19).
In the "today" of the liturgy, the Lord Jesus also addresses these words to the Successor of Peter, and they become a duty for him to strengthen his brethren (cf. Luke 22: 32). With great consolation and deep affection I call you, venerable Brother Cardinals, to support the See of Peter in the particular ministry of unity entrusted to it.
"As Bishop of Rome, I am fully aware", as I reaffirmed in the Encyclical on the commitment to ecumenism Ut unum sint, "that Christ ardently desires the full and visible communion of all those Communities in which, by virtue of God's faithfulness, his Spirit dwells" (n. 95). To this primary goal Cardinals, both as a College and individually, can and must make their valuable contribution.
For they are the first collaborators in the Roman Pontiff's ministry of unity. The red that they wear recalls the blood of the martyrs, especially that of Peter and Paul, on whose supreme witness the vocation and universal mission of the Church of Rome and of her Pastor is founded.
5. How can we forget that the Petrine ministry, the visible principle of unity, constitutes a difficulty for the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities? (cf. Encyclical Ut unum sint, n. 88). But at the same time, how can we not recall the historical fact that in the first millennium the primatial role of the Bishop of Rome was exercised without encountering any resistance in the Church of either the West or the East? Today I would like in a special way to pray to the Lord with you that the new millennium we have entered may soon see this situation overcome and full communion re-established. May the Holy Spirit give all believers the necessary light and strength to achieve what the Lord so ardently desires. I ask you to help me and to collaborate in every way in this demanding mission.