His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Sunday Angelus, September 24, 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus announced to his disciples for the second time his passion, death and resurrection (cf. Mark 9:30-35). The Evangelist Mark highlights the strong contrast between His mentality and that of the Twelve Apostles, who not only didn't understand the words of the Master and clearly rejected the idea that he was going to meet death, but also disputed over who among them was to be considered "the greatest." Jesus patiently explains to them his logic, the logic of love that involves service up to the gift of self: "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."
This is the logic of Christianity, which responds to the truth of man created in the image of God, but at the same time it contrasts with his egoism, a consequence of original sin. Every human person is attracted by love -- which ultimately is God himself -- but often [the person] errs in the concrete ways of loving, and thus from a tendency that is at its origin positive, though tainted by sin, can be derived evil intentions and actions.
Also recalled, in today's liturgy, is the Letter of St. James: "Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity." The apostle concludes: "A fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace" (3:16-18).
This word brings to mind the witness of so many Christians who, with humility and in silence, spend their life at the service of others for the sake of the Lord Jesus, working concretely as servants of love and therefore "artisans" of peace. Some are asked to give the supreme testimony of blood, as happened a few days ago to the Italian religious, Sister Leonella Sgorbati, who fell victim to violence. This nun, who for many years served the poor and the children in Somalia, died pronouncing the word "pardon": This is the most authentic Christian witness, a peaceful sign of contradiction which shows the victory of love over hate and evil.
No doubt, following Christ is difficult, but, as he says, only the one who loses his life for the sake of the Gospel will save it (cf. Mark 8:35), giving full sense to one's existence. There exists no other path to be his disciples, there is no other path to witness to his love and tend toward evangelical perfection.
Mary, whom we invoke this day as Our Lady of Mercy, helps us to open our heart ever more to the love of God, mystery of joy and sanctity.