Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Benedict, the Fisherman

Returning to the "native" beat of Rome, St Peter's Square was packed yet again for Benedict XVI's Wednesday general audience.

Today's topic was "Peter, the Fisherman." A stunning narrative text, which I'll translate in full as time permits.... In the meantime, the AsiaNews summary.

With today’s thoughts, Benedict XVI has begun a reflection on the apostles. He began with Peter who, “second only to Jesus, is the better known and most cited character in the New Testament”.

Simon son of Jonah, said the Pope, as shown by recent archaeological excavations in Capernaum, where Peter’s home is located, is a figure of history. Digs “have brought to light, under the eight-sided mosaic floor of a small Byzantine church, the elements of an older church that bear written invocations to Peter”.

The Pope focused however on the Peter’s role in the life of Jesus, starting with his calling, when he announced that “he would a fisher of men”.

A married fisherman, Peter was “moved by a “sincere religious interest”. In the Gospels Simon appears as someone who is decisive and impulsive, prepared to argue his points of view going so far as resorting to the use of force (see the episode of the sword in John, 18: 10). At the same time though, he is naive and timorous, and yet honest to the point of sincere repentance (Matthew, 26: 75).

The Gospels enable us to follow him as he makes his way along his spiritual path. The starting point was Jesus’ calling”.

“Trusting in the working presence of God in the history of his people, but pained that he could not see His powerful action in the events that he witnessed, [. . .] Peter wanted a Messiah who was a ‘divine man’, someone who would fulfill people’s expectations by taking a path of humility and suffering. The alternative was clear: either privilege one’s expectations by rejecting Jesus, or welcome Jesus in the truth of His mission, putting aside our, oh so human expectations”.

Even though he speaks it at least twice a week already, Benedict is brushing up some more on his Polish in advance of the trip to Poland, which begins next Thursday, the 25th.
Officials say the Pope, known to speak German, French, English, Italian and Spanish, is practicing pronunciation of consonant-heavy Polish words to soften a hard German accent heard when he reads phonetically written speeches in Polish.

Benedict will start masses in Polish and later switch to Italian before handing over the reading to local clergy, who will continue the sermon in Polish. Part of the liturgy will be carried out in Latin and he will pray in German at Auschwitz.

Some Jewish groups have objected to him speaking at length in German at the camp, Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki -- responsible for the Auschwitz part of the trip -- told daily Gazeta Wyborcza. The Pope will also make a speech there in Italian, the Vatican's international language.
And, for those of you who like to keep an eye, European media darling Georg Ganswein was present this morning... and looking quite pleased with himself, to boot.

PHOTOS: Reuters/Max Rossi