02 February 2008

The human being wants to know what everything around him is. He wants truth.

In the New Testament, the word “bishop” – episkopos –, the immediate meaning of which indicates an “overseer”, had already been merged with the Biblical concept of Shepherd: the one who observes the whole landscape from above, ensuring that everything holds together and is moving in the right direction. Considered in such terms, this designation of the task focuses the attention first of all within the believing community. The Bishop – the Shepherd – is the one who cares for this community; he is the one who keeps it united on the way towards God, a way which, according to the Christian faith, has been indicated by Jesus – and not merely indicated: He himself is our way. Yet this community which the Bishop looks after – be it large or small – lives in the world; its circumstances, its history, its example and its message inevitably influence the entire human community. The larger it is, the greater the effect, for better or worse, on the rest of humanity. Today we see very clearly how the state of religions and the situation of the Church – her crises and her renewal – affect humanity in its entirety. Thus the Pope, in his capacity as Shepherd of his community, is also increasingly becoming a voice for the ethical reasoning of humanity.

As it did then, evangelization today also demands total and faithful adherence to God's Word, adherence to Christ first of all and attentive listening to his Spirit who guides the Church, docile obedience to the Pastors whom God has chosen to guide his people and prudent, frank dialogue with the social, cultural and religious bodies of our time. All this presupposes, as is well known, close communion with the one who calls us to be his friends and disciples, a unity of life and action nourished by listening to his Word, by contemplation and by prayer, by detachment from the mindset of the world and by ceaseless conversion to his love so that it may be he, Christ, who lives and works in each one of us. Here lies the secret of the authentic success of every Christian's apostolic and missionary commitment, and especially of those who are called to a more direct service of the Gospel.

God's Word, therefore, is first "received", that is, listened to, and then, as it penetrates the heart, it is "welcomed", and those who receive it recognize that God speaks through his messenger: in this way his Word acts in believers.

Indeed, without true friendship with Jesus, it is impossible for a Christian, especially a priest, to fulfil the mission the Lord entrusts to him.

A man who is distant from God is also distant from himself, estranged from himself, he can find himself only by meeting God. This path leads to himself, to his true self and identity.

- General Audience, 30 January 2008
Distance from God means distance from oneself.

- General Audience, 30 January 2008
The presence of God in man is deep and at the same time mysterious. It can however be discovered and recognized deep down in oneself.

- General Audience, 30 January 2008
The harmony between faith and reason means above all that God is not far away; he is not far from our reasoning or from our lives; he is close to every human being, close to our hearts and close to our reason if we truly follow his path.

- General Audience, 30 January 2008

01 February 2008

Papal Intentions for February

General Intention: That the mentally handicapped may not be marginalized but respected and lovingly helped to live in a way dignifying of their physical and social conditions.

Mission Intention: That Institutes of Consecrated Life, so flourishing in mission countries, may rediscover the missionary dimention and faithful to the radical choice of Gospel counsels, be generous in bearing witness to Christ and proclaiming Him to the ends of the earth.