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Monday, July 25, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 24 JUL 2011 (VIS) - In his remarks before praying the Angelus this morning, Benedict XVI commented on the first reading from today's liturgy, a passage from the Book of Kings in which Solomon, ascending the throne, asks God for an understanding heart to serve His people with justice and to distinguish between good and evil.

  Addressing the faithful gathered in the inner courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, the Pope explained the meaning of Solomon's prayer. "We know that 'heart' in the Bible indicates not just a part of the body but the core of the individual, the seat of his intentions and judgments; in other words, his conscience. An 'understanding heart' means, then, a conscience capable of listening, sensitive to the voice of truth and thus able to distinguish good from evil. In Solomon's case the request is motivated by his responsibility for guiding a nation, Israel, the people whom God chose to reveal His plan of salvation to the world. The king of Israel must, then, seek constant harmony with God and listen to His Word, in order to guide the people along the ways of the Lord, the way of justice and peace.

  "However", the Holy Father added, "the example of Solomon applies to us all. Each of us has a conscience which makes us, in a certain sense, 'king'; in other words, which enables us to exercise the supreme human dignity of acting according to right conscience, doing good and avoiding evil. Moral conscience presupposes a capacity to listen to the voice of truth, humbly to follow its guidance. People called to play a role in government naturally have a further responsibility and, as Solomon teaches, have even greater need of God's help.

  "But everyone has their part to play in their own particular situation. An erroneous mentality suggests that we should ask God for favours or favourable conditions. Yet the truth is that the real quality of our lives, and of social life in general, depends on the sound conscience of each individual, on the capacity of each person to recognise what is good, distinguish it from evil and patiently seek to put it into effect".

  Pope Benedict concluded: "May the Virgin Mary help us, with God's grace, to make out own consciences open to truth and sensitive to justice, in order to serve the Kingdom of God".
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