Sunday, October 14, 2007

Of True Conversion... and No Announcement

More folks than usual likely tuned into the live feed of the noon Angelus today... only to hear no consistory announcement.

Before another packed Square -- today with a heavy German contingent in attendance -- the Pope offered the following catechesis:
Dear brothers and sisters!

The Gospel of this Sunday presents Jesus curing ten lepers, of whom only one, a Samaritan and thus a stranger, returns to thank him (cf Lk 17:11-19). To him the Lord says: "Stand up and go; your faith has healed you!" (Lk 17:19). This page of the Gospels invites us to a double reflection. Above all it makes us think about two kinds of healing: one, a more superficial kind, regarding the body; the other, more profound, takes place inside a person, that which the Bible calls the "heart," and goes forth from it to all of oneself. The complete and radical healing is "salvation." The same common language, distinguishing between "health" and "salvation," helps us to understand is more than just health: it is, in fact, a new life, full, definitive. Here Jesus, like in other circumstances, pronounces the expression: "Your faith has saved you." It is faith that saves man, restoring him in his profound relationship with God, with himself and with others; and this faith is expressed in recognition. One who, like the healed Samaritan, knows to be grateful, demonstrates it not as something which he must, but as a gift that, as when ones comes across men or nature, comes ultimately from God. Faith brings then the opening of oneself to the grace of the Lord; recognizing that everything is a gift, everything is a grace. This treasure is borne out in one small word: "grazie" ["thank you!"]!

Jesus heals ten sick men of leprosy, an illness then considered an "impure contagion" that required a ritual purification (cf Lk 14:1-37). In truth, the leprosy that really plagues man and society is sin; the pride and selfishness that produce indifference, hate and violence in the human soul. This leprosy of the soul, that disfigures the face of humanity, can be cured by no one if not God, who is Love. Opening the heart to God, the person who turns himself around becomes healed internally of evil.

"Repent and believe in the Gospel" (cf Mk 1:15). Jesus gives an introduction to his public life with this invitation, one that continues to resound in the Church, much as the Most Holy Virgin in her apparitions especially in recent times has always renewed this appeal. Today, we think in particular of Fatima where, 90 years ago now, from 13 May to 13 October 1917, the Virgin appeared to the three little shepherds: Lucia, Jacinta and Francesco. Thanks to the links of radio and television, I'd like to render myself spiritually present in that Marian sanctuary, where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, presided in my name over the closing celebrations of this very significant anniversary. I greet him, the other cardinals and bishops present, the priests who work at the shrine and the pilgrims who've come from every part of the world for the occasion. To the Madonna let us ask for all Christians the gift of true conversion, that they might proclaim and witness with coherence and fidelity the constant message of the Gospel that shows to all humanity the way of authentic peace.

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae....
Following the weekly prayer, the Pope pleaded for the release of two Syrian Catholic priests who were kidnapped earlier this week in Mosul, Iraq. A group was also present from the hometown of Pope Pius XI to mark the 150th anniversary of the late pontiff's birth.

In his L'Espresso column earlier this week, Sandro Magister dubbed B16's weekly Angelus talks as the Pope's "secret messages."

They might be clandestine elsewhere... but not here.

PHOTO: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi