Benedict XVI’s sermon for Epiphany was “classic Ratzinger”.
I put the text with comments HERE.
Last Tuesday’s @Pontifex tweet project was: @Pontifex Holy Father, thank you for your Epiphany sermon!
During the Mass, Benedict consecrated four new bishops. In his sermon, the Holy Father said:
The successors of the Apostles must also expect to be repeatedly beaten, by contemporary methods, if they continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that can be heard and understood. Then they can rejoice that they have been considered worthy of suffering for him. Like the Apostles, we naturally want to convince people and in this sense to obtain their approval. Naturally, we are not provocative; on the contrary we invite all to enter into the joy of that truth which shows us the way. The approval of the prevailing wisdom, however, is not the criterion to which we submit. Our criterion is the Lord himself. If we defend his cause, we will constantly gain others to the way of the Gospel. But, inevitably, we will also be beaten by those who live lives opposed to the Gospel, and then we can be grateful for having been judged worthy to share in the passion of Christ.
The sermon is still getting some well-deserved buzz. Today the papal spokesman and head of Vatican Radio, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, had an editorial in which he wrote
“Seeking the truth meant more than the taunts of the world, so apparently clever.” This is what the Pope said in his homily of the Epiphany, reflecting on the courage of the Magi, and he applied this thinking to the mission of the new bishops, who today must often go against the tide because “the humility of faith, of sharing the faith of the Church of every age, will constantly be in conflict with the prevailing wisdom.” Nothing prevents us from widening the scope of his speech. In fact, the Pope continued by explaining that “today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs.” Contradicting the prevailing mindset requires being brave – “courageous” says Pope Benedict. The relevance of these words does not need much comment, given the multiplicity of examples. But no less significant is what the Pope further adds: “this courage or forcefulness does not consist in striking out or in acting aggressively, but rather in allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of thinking.” Even if the practical methods by which different members and components of ecclesial communities will have to seek the best way to place themselves and act according to their duties in the specific situations they find themselves in, the Pope gives everyone a fundamental lesson of evangelical spirit, a prerequisite of Christian witness. In fact, everything possible needs to be done in order to understand, from words as from actions, that what the Church seeks, in following the truth, is not to make its own interest or particular vision prevail, but the true good of each and every person. [That is the caritas Christ exemplified perfectly on the Cross.] Because God – and therefore the Church – loves all his creatures and wants them to live in fullness. And this should be proclaimed without fear. The Pope concludes: “The fear of God frees us from the fear of men. It liberates!”
Initium sapientiae est timor Domini.