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Sunday, September 25, 2011

CHRISTIAN LIFE IS HUMBLE SERVICE OF NEIGHBOUR

VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father concelebrated Mass at the airport of Freiburg im Breisgau with bishops from the twenty-seven dioceses of the Federal Republic of Germany. The event was attended by thousands of faithful from Germany and surrounding countries. Extracts from the Holy Father's homily are given below.

"'Father, you show your almighty power in your mercy and forgiveness', as we said in today's Collect", the Pope began. "There are theologians who, in the face of all the terrible things that happen in the world today, say that God cannot be all-powerful. In response to this we profess God, the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth. ... At the same time, we have to be aware that He exercises His power differently from the way we normally do. He has placed a limit on His power, by recognising the freedom of His creatures. We are glad and thankful for the gift of freedom.

"However, when we see the terrible things that happen as a result of it, we are frightened. Let us put our trust in God, whose power manifests itself above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let us be certain, dear faithful, that God desires the salvation of His people. He desires our salvation. He is always close to us, especially in times of danger and radical change, His heart aches for us and He reaches out to us. We need to open ourselves to Him so that the power of His mercy can touch our hearts. We have to be ready to abandon evil, to raise ourselves from indifference and make room for His word. God respects our freedom. He does not constrain us.

"In the Gospel Jesus takes up this fundamental theme" in the parable of the two sons invited by their father to work in the vineyard. The first son refuses but later repents and goes to work, while the second agrees but in the end does not go. Of the two sons, only the first does his father's will. "Translated into the language of our time", the Pope explained, "this statement might sound something like this: agnostics, who are constantly exercised by the question of God, those who long for a pure heart but suffer on account of our sin, are closer to the Kingdom of God than believers whose life of faith is 'routine' and who regard the Church merely as an institution, without letting their hearts be touched by faith".

He went on: "The words of Jesus should make us all pause, in fact they should disturb us. ... So let us ask ourselves, how is my personal relationship with God: in prayer, in participation at Sunday Mass, in exploring my faith through meditation on Sacred Scripture and study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Dear friends, ... the renewal of the Church will only come about through openness to conversion and through renewed faith".

"Christian life must continually measure itself by Christ. ... Just as Christ was totally united to the Father and obedient to Him, so too the disciples must obey God and be of one mind among themselves. ... The Church in Germany will overcome the great challenges of the present and future, and it will remain a leaven in society, if the priests, consecrated men and women, and the lay faithful, in fidelity to their respective vocations, work together in unity. ... The Church in Germany will continue to be a blessing for the entire Catholic world: if she remains faithfully united with the Successors of St. Peter and the Apostles, if she fosters co-operation in various ways with mission countries and allows herself to be 'infected' by the joy that marks the faith of these young Churches".

"Christian life is ... humble service of neighbour and of the common good. ... Let us ask God for the courage and the humility to walk the path of faith, to draw from the riches of His mercy, and to fix our gaze on Christ. ... He is our future.
PV-GERMANY/ VIS 20110925 (690)

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