Sunday, August 26, 2007

B16: Heaven Isn't For the Big

With a powerful catechesis, the Pope riffed on this Sunday's readings at today's Angelus:
“Dear brothers and sisters, if we want to . . . pass through the narrow gate, we must commit ourselves to being small, that is humble of heart like Jesus; like Mary, His and our mother. . . . Christians call upon Her as Ianua Caeli, Gate of Heaven. Let us ask Her to guide us in our daily choices, take us to the path that leads to ‘Heaven’s Gate’.”...

Benedict XVI joined the devotion to Mary and the Gospel’s needs by explaining a ‘perplexing’ passage from the Holy Scriptures quoted in this Sunday’s liturgy, when Jesus said: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough (Lk 13:23-24).”

The Pontiff explained that in Christianity there are not “privileged gateways”. “The gateway to eternal life is open to all, but is ‘narrow’ because it is demanding, requires commitment, abnegation and denial of one’s own selfishness”.

What is more, “he is the one Redeemer inviting us to his feast of immortal life, but on one and only condition, that of following and imitating him, bearing as He did our own cross and devoting one’s life to one’s brothers. This is the single, universal condition to join the heavenly life.”

Talking about today’s liturgy, the Pope excluded religious practices as a “source of security” and “false merits.”

“On the last day,” Benedict XVI added, “it is not on the basis of alleged privileges that we shall be judged but on the merit of our deeds. The ‘agents of iniquity’ will find themselves excluded whilst those who did good deeds at the cost of sacrifices shall be welcomed. It will not be enough to say that ‘I was a friend” of Christ, and claim false merits like: ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets’ (Lk 13:26). True friendship for Jesus is expressed in how one lives; in the goodness of one’s heart; in one’s humility, kindness and mercy, in one’s love for justice and truth; in one’s sincere commitment to peace and reconciliation. This, we might say, is the ‘identity card’ that qualifies us as true ‘friends;’ it is the ‘passport’ that will let us enter eternal life."
As the academic year begins anew in the Eternal City, following his catechesis the Pope made a particular point to greet the incoming students of the Pontifical North American College who were present in Castel Gandolfo's inner courtyard.

B16 said he would "pray that their formative years in Rome will help them to grow in wisdom and pastoral charity."

Reuters/Dario Pignatelli