Wednesday, February 27, 2013

THANK YOU POPE BENEDICT XVI


Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood!
Distinguished Authorities!
Dear brothers and sisters!

Thank you for coming in such large numbers in this last General Audience of my pontificate.

As the Apostle Paul in the biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart to have to especially thank God that guides and builds up the Church, which is sowing his Word and thus nourishes the faith in his people. At this moment my heart expands to embrace the whole Church throughout the world, and I thank God for the “news” that in recent years the Petrine ministry I could receive about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love that circulates in the body of the Church and to live in love, and hope that it opens and directs us towards the fullness of life, towards the heavenly homeland.

I feel I bring all in prayer, in a present that is of God, where I collect every meeting, every trip, every pastoral visit. Everything and everyone gather in prayer to entrust them to the Lord, because we have full knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, and why we behave in a manner worthy of Him and His love, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1 0.9 to 10).

At this time, there is great confidence in me, because I know, all of us know, that the word of the truth of the Gospel is the power of the Church, it is his life. The Gospel purifies and renews, bears fruit, wherever the community of believers hears and receives the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my belief and this is my joy.

When, on April 19, almost eight years ago, I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I always had the certainty that has always accompanied me. At that time, I had already stated several times, words that have been spoken in my heart were: Lord, what do you ask of me? The weight that you place on my shoulders is very great, but if you ask me, at your word I will let down the nets, confident that you will guide me. And the Lord has really driven, I was close, I could feel his presence every day. It ‘was a part of the journey of the Church that had moments of joy and light, but also moments that were not easy. I felt like St. Peter and the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. 
The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze. Days when the fishing is plentiful, and there were also times when the water was rough and there was a head wind, as in the whole history of the Church and it appeared to us that the Lord appeared to be sleeping. But I always knew that the boat is in the Lord and I always knew that the boat of the Church was not mine, not ours, but was his and not let her sink, it is he who leads it, certainly through men that he had chosen, because it wanted it to be so. This was and this is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. And that’s why today my heart is filled with gratitude to God because he did not ever let the Church lack in any way especially his consolation, his light, his love.

We are in the Year of Faith, which I wanted to strengthen our own faith in God in a context that seems to put it more and more into the background. I would like to invite everyone to renew their firm trust in the Lord, to trust like children in the arms of God, resting assured that those arms support us and are what allow us to walk every day, even when this requires effort. I would like everyone to feel loved by the God who gave his Son for us and showed us his love without boundaries. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer to be recited daily in the morning, we pray: “I adore you, my God, I love you with all my heart. Thank you for creating me and for making me Christian … did. “Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith is the most precious thing. No one can take from us! We thank God for this every day, with prayer and with an authentic Christian life. God loves us, but waits for us and expects that we love him!

But it is not only God that I want to thank at this time. A Pope is not alone in the leading the ship of Peter, even if it is your primary responsibility, and I have not ever heard only bring joy and weight of the Petrine ministry, the Lord placed many people next to me, with generosity and love for God and the Church, have helped me and I have been close. First of all you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your advice, your friendship was precious to me, my collaborators, starting with my Secretary of State who accompanied me faithfully over the years, the Secretariat of State and the whole of the Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in various fields, give their service to the Holy See: there are many unseen faces which are not arise, remain in the shade, but in the silence, in their daily work, in a spirit of faith and humility, they have been a safe and reliable support to me. A special thought to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I can not forget the Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, consecrated persons and the entire People of God in the pastoral visits, in meetings, at the audiences, travel, I always received great care and deep affection, but I too have loved each and every one, without exception, with that pastoral charity which is the heart of every pastor, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I carried each of you in my prayers, the heart of a father.

I want my greetings to reach out to all of you, everywhere: the heart of a Pope extends to the whole world. And I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, which makes up, this, our great family of nations. Here I also think of all those who work for good communication system and I thank them for their important service.

At this point I would like to thank with all of my heart the many people around the world in recent weeks who have sent me touching tokens of attention, friendship and prayer. Yes, the Pope is never alone, now I experience it again in a way that is great and touches the heart. The Pope belongs to everyone and a lot of people feel very close to him. In the truth that I receive letters from the world’s largest – by the Heads of State, religious leaders, representatives of the world of culture and so on. But I also received many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their heart and make me feel their affection born out of experience with Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write to me as they write to a prince or a great one does not know. They write as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, with the sense of family ties very affectionate. Here you can touch what is really the Church – not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian goals, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. We experience the Church in this way and could almost be able to touch it with your hands; the very power of his truth and love is a source of joy, in a time when many people speak of it in its decline.

In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God earnestly in prayer to enlighten me with his light to make me take the right decision not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its severity and also new, but with a deep peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make tough choices, suffering, having always before the good of the Church and not themselves.

Allow me to return once again to April 19, 2005. The severity of the decision was precisely in the fact that from that moment on I was always and forever committed for the Lord. Always – those who assume the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. Always and totally belongs to everyone, the entire Church. His life is, so to speak, totally deprived of the private sphere. I experienced, and I am experiencing it right now that one receives life just as He gives. I said before that a lot of people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and are very fond of him. I’ve said before that the Pope has truly brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world, and that he feels in the embrace of their communion, because it no longer belongs to himself, instead he belongs to everyone, everywhere.

The “always” is also a “forever” – there is no return to the private [life]. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry does not revoke this fact. I am not returning to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but I am remaining at the foot of the Crucified Lord. I will no longer vest the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer rest, so to speak, in the yard of St. Peter. St. Benedict, whose name I bare as Pope, is a great example of this. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God

I thank each and everyone for your respect and understanding with which you have welcomed this important decision. I will continue to accompany the journey of the Church through prayer and reflection, with dedication to the Lord and to his Spouse, with which I have tried to live up to now every day and which I want to live forever. I ask you to remember me before God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals, who are called to such an important task, and the new Successor of Peter, the Lord accompany him with the light and the power of his Spirit.

Let us invoke the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church that she may accompany each of us and the whole ecclesial community, to her, as we trust, deep trust.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I offer a warm and affectionate greeting to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors who have joined me for this, my last General Audience. Like Saint Paul, whose words we heard earlier, my heart is filled with thanksgiving to God who ever watches over his Church and her growth in faith and love, and I embrace all of you with joy and gratitude. During this Year of Faith, we have been called to renew our joyful trust in the Lord’s presence in our lives and in the life of the Church. I am personally grateful for his unfailing love and guidance in the eight years since I accepted his call to serve as the Successor of Peter. I am also deeply grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of so many of you, not only here in Rome, but also throughout the world. The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God’s will and a deep love of Christ’s Church. I will continue to accompany the Church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new Pope. In union with Mary and all the saints, let us entrust ourselves in faith and hope to God, who continues to watch over our lives and to guide the journey of the Church and our world along the paths of history. I commend all of you, with great affection, to his loving care, asking him to strengthen you in the hope which opens our hearts to the fullness of life that he alone can give. To you and your families, I impart my blessing. Thank you!world. In our heart, in the heart of each one of you, may there always be the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, do not abandon us, near us and surrounds us with his love. Thank you!
Benedict XVI
General Audience
February 27, 2013
[Translation: Radio Vaticana]

Saturday, February 16, 2013

THE SIN OF PRESUMPTION


THE SIN OF PRESUMPTION
My Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent
(Luke 4:1-13)

Today's gospel reading highlighted, the three greatest temptation that is often the terrible cause of every human's downfall.  The lust for food, the lust for power and earthly glory, and the sin of presumption. If we will come to think of this, most of these sins when committed stem from our lack of faith and trust in the Lord.  I would like to specifically focus on the last temptation which is the sin of presumption.  Often we test the Lord's love for us by bringing our selves to situations of which we are not suppose to be there, falsely consoling ourselves with the thoughts that perhaps the Lord will do something to save us.  But Jesus in that gospel, categorically rebuked the devil by telling him "thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God."

How many times have we blamed the Lord for the miseries that we have found our selves?  How may times we loose our faith in God when things around us, including our plans, did not work our just right? Why instead of throwing ourselves into the merciful hand of God, we blame him for our failures?  Should we not plunge ourselves in the hands of God who can change our destiny and shape it according to His goodness?  Our faith in God must come under test.  Abraham showed his utmost love for God and his faith by willinglly offering his son as a sacrifice.  He willingly followed God in a strange land in search for His promise.  

We, too in this season of lent, we are called upon by the Lord to follow Him in faith.  This spirit of unbelief cannot go out unless we fight it with prayer and fasting.  Why not simply trust the Lord?  When we find ourselves in difficult situation, instead of negativism, why don't we simply utter a short phrase of prayer, petitioning God to help our unbelief?

Short Prayer:  Lord Jesus increase our faith, so that in this journey we call life, we can always see and experience your goodness in the land of the living.  Grant us a contrite heart and a penitent heart, willing to love and obey.  So that in this season of Lent we will see and experience your love and care.  So that in difficult moments we would be reminded of our home in heaven, of which you have prepared for us.  This we ask in your name, Amen.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

MY SUNDAY REFLECTION FROM LUKE 5:1-11 "THE UNPRETENTIOUS CALL"

As the Scripture said, God does not think they way men thinks. He judges not as men judge, for he looks into the heart of men. I wonder what would it be if today Christ were here, who would he call to be his disciples? Will He approached those with Ph.D.s, the Politicians, the business magnates, the police officers to be fishers ofmen? When Christ began His public ministry, he did not call the teachers of the law, the Scribes and the Pharisees to be his followers, but he called on those unassuming fishermen at the lake of Galilee to be his followers. And Christ with authoritative words told Peter and his companions, that from then on they will become no longer catchers of fish but catchers of men. The ways of the kingdom of this world is so different from the ways of the Kingdom of God. Their values are poles apart. While this world seeks honor and accolade, the kingdom of God teaches us that the greatest value is love and humility and manifested in loving service to humanity. Those of us who were called to be in this Kingdom must show by words and by deeds these values of loving service to humanity. We must shun the honors of this world which are fleeting. But rather we seek the honors that comes from God. But when the Son of Man will come, will He find faith on earth?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A LIGHT TO THE NATIONS

MY REFLECTION ON CANDLEMASS: 

“Lumen ad revelationem servum tuum: et gloriam plebis tuae Israel…” says the antiphon.

“A light to the revelation of the Gentiles: for the glory of thy People of Israel…” Today we celebrate candlemass day. Forty days after giving birth, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph presented Jesus in the temple as commanded by the Law of Moses. Being poor they bought pigeons for the sacrifice instead of a Lamb. There they met Simeon the prophet who have been waiting for the coming of the Messiah. When he say the Virgin Mary with the Child, he proclaimed his prophecy that this child-Jesus. Shall be the cause of Salvation among many in Israel but also shall be the stumbling block among many, Mary did not understand all the words that Simeon had said but she kept it in her hearts – the truth of which was revealed in due time. A sword pierced the heart of Mary.

-There are two sacramentals that reminded me of the significance of this feast of the candlemass. First is the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual help, so popular among us Filipinos. To me this depicts the bond that existed between Mary and her Child Jesus. Mary presents to us Jesus-as the word of God made flesh and as the bread of life our spiritual food. Simeon said that he will be the cause of the rising and falling of many in Israel. Those who cannot accept his teachings will definitely fall but those who humbly accept his words shall find salvation.
The Second thing that reminds me of the significance of this feast is our practice of lighting votive candles during prayers and Mass. What is the meaning of this? It tells us that as we light the candles we are reminded that Christ is the light of the world, that he who listens to Jesus will not walk in darkness. So as we hold on to our light, we are commissioned by God to bring the light of Christ into the world. This can be done by living a life modeled after the teachings of the gospel. Christ said that we should be the light and salt of the earth.

Short Prayer: Jesus you are the light of World, and he who comes unto thee will not walk in darkeness but will have the light. Guide us in our way, and make us by your grace a shining example of who you are. Help us to fight the temptations of this world and the wiles of the devil. Like your mother make us more obedient and keep us ever by your side in this life and in the world to come. Let thy servant go in peace, thy word has been fulfilled. Amen.

IS THIS NOT THE SON OF JOSEPH


IS THIS NOT THE SON OF JOSEPH? 
My Sunday Reflection from, Luke 4:21-30

"Is this not the son of Joseph?" blurted the Jews upon hearing the grace and wisdom coming from the mouth of our Lord as he spoke in the synagogue of the Jews. One laudable situation in the Pharisaic religion of Jesus' time was the democracy of the synagogue where men of wisdom and age are allowed to speak in front of the community. However it was sad to say that the Jews of Jesus' time could not believe that a carpenter's son without formal training could exude such wisdom and grace, as to touch the hearers and to speak with such authority. But unfortunately, their bias for him was evident in the way he was treated by them. Let me offer two points for reflection from today's gospel:

[1] Simeon the prophet at the Presentation of Our Lord said, that this child (Jesus) would be the cause of the rise and fall of many in Israel. Indeed as St. Paul reiterated in his letters to the Romans that the unbelief of the Jews was beneficial for the Gentiles. Because this unbelief paved the way for the gospel message to be preached among the gentiles until the end of the ages. God has chosen the Kingdom of Israel to be his nation, a chosen nation, a chosen race. The prototype of God's coming Kingdom. This was central to the belief of the Hebrews. If this kind of belief shall prevail, that they were the chosen race, it would be utterly impossible for the gospel to be preached to the whole world. Thus the Christian Church which started as a community of believers among the Jews began to be preached among the Gentiles. For this reason, St. Paul said, that with the unbelief of the Jews both in the Land of Israel and the diaspora, he was forced to go to the Gentiles which readily accepted the saving message of God, through His Son Jesus Christ. But St. Paul said, that this unbelief among the Jews is not forever, there will be a time when the Lord shall visit His chosen people and redeem his own. Thus we as Christians cannot brag about our faith, and we should never say that the Jews were abandoned by God. They are still the chosen ones, as St. Paul said, they are our elder brothers in the faith, for it was to them that the covenant was first given. And we are recipients of that benefit for as the Scriptures said, the blessings shall come from Israel that will guide and save the Gentiles. Jesus is that gift. The Son of David, from Bethlehem, a true Israelite, and a Son of God.

[2] The second point I would like to speak about is on the practical side. As individual persons we are also beset by the weakness as the Jews of Christ time. The judgmental attitude that we have at times hinders our relationship with God. How many times we fail to see the potentiality in our neighbors to be good. We only dwell on the mundane and we see only the faults of our neighbors. But we do not see the potentials to be good and above all we fail to realize and recognize the immense capability of God to work in the lives of our neighbors as well as ourselves. We want to be accepted, like anyone else, but we are not ready to accept others. Let us pray that we should have that grace to look positively on our neighbors. To recognize the "good" in them. For our maker the Lord Almighty is good and merciful so likewise we who bear his image are destined to be like him. Let us pray for that grace.

Short Prayer: Lord Almighty Father, make us more like you and help us to recognize the good in our neighbors. Love covers a multitude of sins, so fill our hearts with the same love that you have, so that we may love others as we love ourselves. Bless us Lord, our families, our communities and our nation. This we ask in the name of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. + In the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen