Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives for his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 1.

Pope says Moses mediated for Israel as Christ mediated for mankind

By  Sarah Delaney, Catholic News Service
  • June 3, 2011

VATICAN CITY - Moses was willing to sacrifice himself to God for the sins of the people of Israel, just as Jesus Christ later sacrificed himself for the sins of humanity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

In his weekly audience June 1 in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict said that the intercession of Moses, in which he asked God's forgiveness on behalf of others, invites Christians to recognize their sins and be saved through God's mercy.

The explanation about the role of Moses was the latest in a series of papal audience talks emphasizing the importance of prayer and its transformative power.

Pope Benedict recounted the story from the Book of Exodus when Moses, who had been fasting for 40 days to prepare for receiving the Ten Commandments, is told by an angry God that in his absence the people of Israel have made a golden calf to worship.


The pope said this is because the people, after having been led out of Egypt by Moses, are not able to understand the mystery of an invisible God and therefore produce "a comprehensible god, which corresponds to their ideas and their projects."

God is ready to destroy them for praying to a false god, but Moses, in prayer, begs him to forgive them and "show himself stronger than sin and death," the pope said. In reality, the pope said, God gave Moses the chance to intercede, "thus revealing that God's desire is always salvation."

In asking for forgiveness, the pope said, Moses does not make excuses, but admits wrong and appeals to the mercy of God "who offers the sinner the possibility to return to him."

At the end of the audience, Pope Benedict gave a special greeting to pilgrims from Croatia, where he was to visit June 4-5. He asked Croatian Catholics to pray for the success of his trip there, which will focus on the theme of Christian families.

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