The Holy Father gave a spontaneous sermon to members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission today during a Mass (ad orientem in the Pauline Chapel) for their meeting.
From the site of Vatican Radio with my emphases and comments:
Pope Benedict XVI Reflects on True Freedom, Grace of Penance in Pauline Chapel Homily to Biblical Commission
(15 Apr 10 – RV) At 7:30 Thursday morning Rome Time in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass with the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. He delivered a homily in which he spoke of true freedom as rooted in knowledge of and loving obedience to God, as well as the grace of true penitence, the need for pardon, renewal and transformation. We have this report…
The Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission are holding their Plenary Assembly this week at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The meeting opened Monday, and the 5 days of reflection are focusing on the theme of “Inspiration and Truth in the Bible.”
At Mass with the members Thursday morning, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a homily on the relationship of truth and freedom in the context of God’s relationship to human being and human society. [Perhaps more members of the press corps should have been invited.]
Speaking without a prepared text, [He is really good when speaking off the cuff.] the Holy Father said that in modern times we have seen theorized an idea of man according to which human being would be, “free, autonomous, and nothing else.” [Which in the 20th century lead to some terrifying results. How much blacker will our own times be?]
This supposed freedom from everything, including freedom from the duty of obedience to God, “Is a lie,” said Pope Benedict, a falsehood regarding the basic structure of human being – about the way women and men are made to be, “because,” he continued, “human being does not exist on its own, nor does it exist for itself.” [Concise. Clear. We need to consider the difference between "freedom from" and "freedom to". In his "inaugural" sermon in April 2005, the Holy Father spoke to young people encouraging them when you say yes to God you are not giving up something of yourself. You are gaining truer freedom.]
The Pope said it is a political and practical falsehood, as well, because cooperation and sharing of freedoms is a necessary part of social life [Which needs a) recognition of who man truly is and b) a recognition that your neighbor is truly human, with dignity.] – and if God does not exist – if He is not a point of reference really accessible to human being, then only prevailing opinion remains and it becomes the final arbiter of all things. [A good basis for why we also must not have ephemeral worship.]
Citing the Nazi and Communist regimes of the 20th century as examples, Pope Benedict said such dictatorships can never accept the notion of a God who is above ideological power ["But... Holy Father! Holy Father!", some of you will exclaim. "Isn't that what is going on now? Even after the fall of Nazism and the Soviet? Are you trying to warn us about something you see happening?" ] – and he also stressed that in the present, there are subtle forms of dictatorship like that of a radical conformism, which can lead to subtle and not-so subtle aggression toward the Church. [To wit: the war of the MSM on the Church going on right now. Conformism to... what... the dictatorship of relativism?]
The Holy Father also stressed that for Christians, true obedience to God depends on our truly knowing Him, and he warned against the danger of using “obedience to God” as a pretext for following our own desires. [Good one.]
“We have,” he said, “a certain fear of speaking about eternal life.” [Reflecting on the Four Last Things can clarify your values pretty quickly. I often wonder if priest and bishops who harmed children thought about the Last Things... ever.]
“We talk of things that are useful to the world,” continued Pope Benedict, “we show that Christianity can help make the world a better place, [the Church as reduced to instrument of social change] but we do not dare say that the end of the world and the goal of Christianity is eternal life – and that the criteria of life in this world come from the goal – this we dare not say.” [I do. I sure did in a recent parish mission I gave in NY toward the end of Lent. Some people were a little flustered, I understand!]
We must rather have the courage, the joy, the great hope that there is eternal life, that eternal life is real life and that from this real life comes the light that illuminates this world as well. [Joy is a sign of the Holy Spirit at work.]
The Pope noted that, when we look at things this way, penitence is a grace – even though of late we have sought to avoid this word, too. [But I bet we are going to hear it more and more.]
Now, under the attacks of the world, which speak to us of our sins, [I think we know what that is about...] we see that to be able to do penance is a grace – and we see how necessary it is to do penance, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our lives: to recognize one’s sin, to open oneself to forgiveness, to prepare for pardon, to allow oneself to be transformed. [Remember: This is to members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission who are thinking about "Inspiration and Truth in the Bible". The Holy Father has some things on his mind.]
The pain of penance, the pain of purification and transformation – this pain is grace, because it is renewal – it is the work of the Divine Mercy.
Pope Benedict concluded his homily with a prayer that our lives might become true life, eternal life, love and truth. [But apparently only though the path of pain and penance. So true.]
The Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Biblical Commission is underway through the end of the week.
In the audio recording the Holy Father’s voice sounds a bit rough.