Sunday, January 8, 2012

“The bishops? They should be vigilant and not seek glory”


This is what Benedict XVI said at the Mass for the Epiphany. Ratzinger also celebrated two new Episcopal ordinations

vatican city The bishops must follow the example of the Magi: be «vigilant and do not to seek worldly glory».  We humans are not the only ones who are restless in relation to God. God's heart is restless in relation to man. However, today we try to drug the restlessness of the heart, yet the true supernova that guides us is Christ himself. The magi «were people with a troubled heart», in search of God.

Today very effective “drugs”, are used to try to free man from this concern», preached the Pope during the Mass in St. Peter's for the Epiphany where he celebrated two Episcopal ordinations. Like the Magi,  «the bishop too must be a man with a restless heart that is not satisfied of the usual things of this world», with «the courage of humility» and «who does not question himself on what dominant opinion says about him».

In his homily, the Pope also addressed the relationship between faith and reason.  «The language of creation is not enough» to find the truth on the existence of man and the world. Scientists can «continue the discussion» on what kind of star had guided the Magi», wondering if the comet resulted from «a conjunction of planets» or rather «a supernova, one of those stars that is initially very weak inside which an explosion can set off an immense splendor for a certain length of time».

For those who have faith, Benedict XVI explains, «the great star, the supernova that guides us is Christ himself: He is the explosion of God's love, which shines the great splendor of his heart over the world». The Magi followed the star. Thus, «through the language of creation they found the God of this story», but they were not the only ones to see that phenomenon in the sky.  Why did they understand?  «Only the Word of God that we find in Sacred Scripture – responds Joseph Ratzinger - could definitely show them the way». Therefore even today, «Creation and Scripture, reason and faith must stand together to lead us to the living God».

Today the Pope entered St. Peter's Basilica on the now familiar moving platform, at 9.30, to begin the celebration of the Solemnity of the Epiphany. During the Mass, Benedict XVI ordained two bishops, Monsignor Charles John Brown, the new apostolic nuncio in Ireland, and Monsignor Marek Solczynski, new nuncio to Georgia and Armenia. The solemnity of the Epiphany is an ancient feast which originated in the Christian East.  «The whole period of Christmas and Epiphany is characterized by the theme of light, also linked to the fact that, in the northern hemisphere, after the winter solstice again the days become longer than the night - said Benedict XVI - But, beyond their geographical location, for all peoples it is the word of Christ that counts: 'I am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness but have the light of life». «Jesus – said  the Pope - is the sun on the horizon of humanity to illuminate the personal life of each one of us and guide us all together toward the goal of our pilgrimage, to the land of freedom and peace, where we will live forever in full communion with God and among ourselves». «The announcement of this mystery of salvation - then observed the Pope - was entrusted by Christ to his Church».   Together with Pope Benedict XVI, the mass was concelebrated by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, William Levada. «Full of the courage of humility, without questioning himself on what dominant opinion says about him», a Bishop «must be able to precede and show the way» to the faithful. His heart must therefore be «restless» and «vigilant», able to perceive «the subdued language of God and discern the true from the apparent», Benedict XVI urges pastors to lead the Catholic Church throughout, indicating «God’s truth» as the «unit of measure» and recalls the duty to proclaim and defend it in every circumstance, «opportune and importune».

Joseph Ratzinger uses the Gospel story of the Magi to outline the features that serve the Church today, called, he says, to precede He who has preceded us all, because he is the true Shepherd, the true star of promise:  Jesus Christ. Each bishop «must have the humility to bow before that God who has made ​​himself so real and so simple, that our foolish pride is contradicted, not wanting to see God so close and so small.   He must live to worship the Son of God who became man, that worship which always shows the way».  In the Magi, it is possible to search («despite all the differences in vocations and tasks») guidelines for the mission of bishops. The Magi of the Gospel story «were, we can say, men of science, but not only in the sense that they wanted to know many things: they wanted more. They wanted to understand what counts in being men».  Again, «they were people from a troubled heart, who were not satisfied by appearances and normality.  They were men in search of the promise, in search of God and they were vigilant men, able to perceive the signs of God, his soft and insistent language.  But they were also brave and humble at the same time: we can imagine that they had to endure some ridicule, because they set out for the king of the Jews, and for this they faced great efforts.  For them it was not deciding what so and so thought and said of them, even if from intelligent and influential people. For them what counted was truth itself, not the opinion of men»

Thus, «a bishop too must be a man with a restless heart that is not satisfied of the usual things of this world, but who follows the restlessness of the heart that drives him to inwardly approach God more, to seek his face, to know him better, to love ever more. The bishop too must be a man with a watchful heart who perceives God’s subdued language can knows how to discern what is real from the apparent. A bishop too must be filled with the courage of humility, who does not question himself on what dominant opinion says about him, but derives his unit of measure from God’s truth and commits himself to it:  “opportune and importune”.  He must be able to precede and to show the way».

All the cardinals present today in St. Peter's, among them the dean of the Sacred College Angelo Sodano and the former president of the CEI, Camillo Ruini. «Western civilization seems to have lost its orientation, and is navigating by sight. But the Church, through the Word of God, see through this fog. It does not have technical solutions, but keeps the eyes turned to the goal», the Pontiff added during the Angelus. Stressing the meaning of Epiphany as the feast of light, Benedict XVI recalled that this is «a very ancient feast, which originated in the Christian East and highlights the mystery of the revelation of Jesus Christ to all peoples, represented by the Magi».  And affirmed that «the world, with all its resources, is not able to give humanity the light to guide its path.  We find this today as well: Western civilization seems to have lost orientation, it is navigating by sight. But the Church, through the Word of God - he added - see through this fog. It does not have technical solutions, but keeps its eyes fixed on the goal, and offers the light of the Gospel to all people of good will, of every nation and culture.  And this too - noted the Pope – is the mission of the Papal Representatives to States and international organizations».

Furthermore, at the end of the Angelus for the Epiphany the Pope announced the convocation of a Consistory for February 18th . The next day, February 19th , an enthronement Mass will be held. Benedict XVI creates 18 new «voting» cardinals, i.e. under 80 years of age that will enter the conclave for the election of the future Pope after the death of the reigning Pontiff.  To these are added four cardinals over eighty.  Thus there are 22 new cardinals. Seven of the new cardinals are Italian (Betori, Filoni, Bertello, Versaldi, Calcagno, Coccopalmerio, Vegliò).  Twelve Europeans in all, (the Italians plus two and Spaniards and the Archbishops of Utrecht, Berlin and Prague). Ten are leaders of the Roman Curia.  Asia has two cardinals (the Indian Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar and Bishop of Hong Kong John Tong Hon). The Americas four (the Brazilian Braz de Aviz, the Archbishop of New York Dolan, that of Toronto Collins and the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the American O'Brien). There are no Africans.

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