On a New Sense of Life and Existence

"The Good News ... Is Destined to Reach All People and Nations"
"The Good News ... Is Destined to Reach All People and Nations"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

In today's liturgy we have the beginning of St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians, that is, to the members of the community that the Apostle himself established at Philippi, an important Roman colony in Macedonia, present day northern Greece. Paul arrived in Philippi during his second missionary journey, sailing from the coast of Anatolia and crossing the Aegean Sea. That was the Gospel's first entrance into Europe. We are near the year 50, so about 20 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. And yet, in the Letter to the Philippians there is a hymn to Christ that already presents a complete synthesis of his mystery: incarnation, "kenosis," that is, humiliation unto death on the cross, and glorification.

This mystery itself became one with the life of the Apostle Paul, who wrote this letter while he was in prison, awaiting a sentence of life or death. He writes: "For me to live is Christ and die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). It is a new sense of life, of human existence, that consists in living communion with the living Jesus Christ; not only with a historical person, a master of wisdom, a religious leader, but with a man in whom God dwells personally. His death and resurrection are the Good News that, starting from Jerusalem, is destined to reach all people and nations, and to transform all cultures from within, opening them to the fundamental truth: God is love; he became man in Jesus and with his sacrifice he ransomed humanity from slavery to evil, giving it a trustworthy hope.

St. Paul was a man who brought together three worlds: the Jewish world and the Greek and Roman worlds. It is not by chance that God entrusted to him the mission of bringing the Gospel from Asia Minor to Greece and to Rome, building a bridge that would take Christianity to the very ends of the earth. Today we live in an epoch of new evangelization. Vast horizons open up to the Gospel, while regions of ancient Christian tradition are called to rediscover the beauty of the faith. The protagonists of this mission are the men and women who, like St. Paul, can say: "For me to live is Christ " -- persons, families, communities, who decide to work in the vineyard of the Lord, according to the image of this Sunday's Gospel (cf. Matthew 20:1-16). Humble and generous workers, who do not ask any other recompense than participating in the mission of Jesus and the Church. "If living in the body," St. Paul continues, "means working and bearing fruit, I do not know which to choose" (Philippians 1:22): full union with Christ beyond death or service to his mystical body on earth.

Dear friends, the Gospel has transformed the world, and it is still transforming it, like a river that waters a great field. Let us turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary that in the whole Church priestly, religious and lay vocations ripen in service to the new evangelization.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in several languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday in Turin, Monsignor Francesco Paleari of the Society of Priests of St. Joseph of Cottolegno was proclaimed Blessed. He was born in Pogliano Milanese in 1863 into a humble peasant family, he entered the seminary at a young age and, immediately after ordination, he dedicated himself to the poor and the sick in the Little House of Providence (Piccola Casa della Divina Provvidenza), but also to teaching, distinguishing himself for his affability and patience. Let us give thanks to God for this luminous witness of his love!

[In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this "Angelus" prayer, including those from the Acton Institute and the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania. In this Sunday's Gospel, we hear Jesus compare the Kingdom of Heaven to the actions of a landowner who is generous to all the workers in his vineyard. Perhaps at times we may feel envious of the success of others or feel that we have not been sufficiently thanked for our service. May we always strive to be humble servants of the Lord and rejoice when God bestows abundant graces on those around us. I wish you a good Sunday. May God bless all of you!

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

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