The Pope talks about Jesus

By  Catholic News Service
  • April 20, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI's final homily to Americans, given at the Sunday, April 20, Mass at Yankee Stadium, was about Jesus. Imagine that, a Catholic Pope, at a Catholic Mass, talking about Jesus.

Considering the headlines and broadcasts of the Pope's U.S. visit that I have seen over the last six days (and they have been legion), you'd think all the Pope talked about was issues. Yet that's only half the story. In fact, each of his public statements — with perhaps the exceptions of the United Nations speech and his greeting remarks at the White House — have really been all about Jesus. They've been about Jesus and youth, Jesus and the Church, Jesus and the bishops, Jesus and priests, Jesus and religious brothers and sisters, Jesus and the family, Jesus and immigrants, Jesus and the world.

In fact, the Pope's talks have been profound reflections on the Christian hope based in the love of God expressed through His Son. His whole mission to the United States, in fact, has been about reintroducing Catholics and anyone else willing to listen to the joy of being a disciple of Jesus in a modern world that is a hostile environment for faith.

His Yankee Stadium homily was about accepting true obedience to Christ. By doing so, Catholics embrace true freedom, not the superficial liberty offered by the material world.

"'Authority. . . 'obedience'. To be frank, these are not easy words (found in the first reading. ed.) to speak nowadays. Words like these represent a 'stumbling stone' for many of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom. Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus Christ — 'the way and the truth and the life' — we come to see the fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. 'In His will is our peace.'"

Pope Benedict urged Catholics to unite their efforts to build up the church of Jesus, the "one, holy, apostolic and Cathoilc church." He gave the U.S. church fulsome praise for all their efforts over the last centuries to strengthen the church and serve the needs of the poor, the sick and the suffering.

He challenged them to carry on, being a "people of joy, heralds of the unfailing hope born of faith in God's word, and trust in His promises."

To do that in our daily lives, the Pope urges Catholics to pray fervently, be aware of the signs of the times, not lose heart in the face of adversity and scandal and overcoming separations between faith and life.

"It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, 'there's no human activity — even in secular affairs — which can be withdrawn from God's dominion' (Lumen Gentium, 36)," he said.

The Pope had words of encouragement for young people, urging them to work to build respect for human rights, especially the right to life, and to help the poor and needy.

"Let us turn to Jesus! He alone is the way that leads to eternal happiness, the truth who satisfies the deepest longings of every heart, and the life who brings ever new joy and hope, to us and to our world. Amen."


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