Only He/She Who Experiences Christ in Obedience “Sees”
Consider the constant of Benedict’s teaching: the loss of the perception and experience of God and the need to recover that experience. It always seems to be the following structure: John the Baptist preaches clearly and boldly. People hear and believe but nothing changes. John begins to lose trust and sends messengers: “Are you he who is to come or should we look for another? Christ answers that Love is in the world, but is not fully visible yet. The seed has been sown, and will grow and save the world. But John has to go through a conversion and suffer.
Notice what Benedict said in Aosta in 2005:
“The Lord's work had begun with great enthusiasm. The sick were visibly cured, everyone listened joyfully to the statement: "The Kingdom of God is at hand". It really seemed that the changing of the world and the coming of the Kingdom of God would be approaching; that at last, the sorrow of the People of God would be changed into joy. People were expecting a messenger of God whom they supposed would take the helm of history in his hand. But they then saw that the sick were indeed cured, devils were expelled, the Gospel was proclaimed, but the world stayed as it was. Nothing changed. The Romans still dominated it. Life was difficult every day, despite these signs, these beautiful words. Thus, their enthusiasm was extinguished, and in the end, as we know from the sixth chapter of John, disciples also abandoned this Preacher who was preaching but did not change the world.
"What is this message? What does this Prophet of God bring?", everyone finally wondered. The Lord talks of the sower who sowed in the field of the world and the seed seemed like his Word, like those healings, a really tiny thing in comparison with historical and political reality. Just as the seed is tiny and can be ignored, so can the Word.
“Yet, he says, the future is present in the seed because the seed carries within it the bread of the future, the life of the future. The seed appears to be almost nothing, yet the seed is the presence of the future, it is a promise already present today. And so, with this parable, he is saying: "We are living in the period of the sowing, the Word of God seems but a word, almost nothing. But take heart, this Word carries life within it! And it bears fruit!". The Parable also says that much of the seed did not bear fruit because it fell on the path, on patches of rock and so forth. But the part that fell on the rich soil bore a yield of thirty- or sixty- or a hundredfold.
“This enables us to understand that we too must be courageous, even if the Word of God, the Kingdom of God, seems to have no historical or political importance. In the end, on Palm Sunday Jesus summed up, as it were, all of these teachings on the seed of the word: If the grain of wheat does not fall into the ground and die it remains single, if it falls into the earth and dies it produces an abundance of fruit. In this way he made people realize that he himself was the grain of wheat that fell into the earth and died. In the Crucifixion, everything seems to have failed, but precisely in this way, falling into the earth and dying, on the Way of the Cross, it bore fruit for each epoch, for every epoch. Here we have both the Christological interpretation, according to which Christ himself is the seed, he is the Kingdom present, and the Eucharistic dimension: this grain of wheat falls into the earth and thus the new Bread grows, the Bread of future life, the Blessed Eucharist that nourishes us and is open to the divine mysteries for new life.
“It seems to me that in the Church's history, these questions that truly torment us are constantly cropping up in various forms: what should we do? People seem to have no need of us, everything we do seems pointless. Yet we learn from the Word of the Lord that this seed alone transforms the earth ever anew and opens it to true life."
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Now, consider what Benedict said within the last three days on 1) The Feast of the Sacred Heart and 2) The Visitation of Our Lady:
1) Pontiff: Presence of Christ Needed
Encourages Devotion to Sacred Heart VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2008 (Zenit.org).-
"Even though the presence of Christ is only perceptible through faith, it's a deeper and more trustworthy presence that everyone needs, says Benedict XVI.The Pope said this today before praying the Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square, encouraging the faithful to renew their devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ this month.He recalled that June is traditionally dedicated to the devotion of the heart of Christ, which he said is "a symbol of the Christian faith that is dear to the faithful, to the mystics and to theologians because it expresses in a simple and authentic way the 'glad tidings' of love, summarizing the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption in itself."The Holy Father explained that the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrated Friday, along with the solemnities of the Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi, "brings to mind a movement toward the center: a movement of the Spirit that is guided by God himself."He continued, "From the infinite horizon of his love, in fact, God desired to enter into the limits of history and the human condition, he took on a body and a heart; thus we can contemplate and meet the infinite in the finite, the mystery of the invisible and ineffable human heart of Jesus, the Nazarene."In my first encyclical on the theme of love, the point of departure was the gaze turned toward Christ’s pierced side, of which John speaks in his Gospel. [...] And this center of the faith is also the font of the hope in which we have been saved, the hope that I made the object of my second encyclical."
"Every person needs a 'center' in his life," he said, "a source of truth and goodness to draw from in the flux of the different situations of everyday life and its toil. Everyone of us, when he pauses for a moment of silence, needs to feel not only the beating of his own heart, but more deeply, the beating of a trustworthy presence, perceptible to the senses of faith and yet more real: the presence of Christ, heart of the world."
2) Pope's Address at End of Marian Month
"She Is Blessed Because She Believed"VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2008 (Zenit.org).-
Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday evening during a gathering in St. Peter's Square marking the conclusion of May, the month dedicated to the Mary.* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
"We conclude the month of May with this suggestive meeting of Marian prayer. I greet you with affection and I thank you for your participation. I greet, first of all, Cardinal Angelo Comastri; along with him I also greet the other cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests who have participated in this evening celebration.I extend my greeting to all consecrated persons and to you, my dear lay faithful, who have desired to offer homage to the Most Holy Virgin with your presence. This day we celebrate the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin and the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.All of this invites us to cast our gaze upon Mary with trust. To her, again this evening, we turn with the ancient and always relevant holy practice of the rosary. The rosary, when it is not a mechanical repetition of traditional formulas, is a biblical meditation that permits us to reflect on the events of the Lord’s life in the company of the Blessed Virgin, treasuring them, as she did, in our heart.In many Christian communities there is the beautiful custom of reciting the rosary in a more solemn way together with the family and in parishes. Now that the month is ending, this good practice should not also end; indeed it should be continued with a still greater commitment, so that, in the school of Mary, the lamp of faith may shine ever brighter in the heart of Christians and in their houses.
On today’s feast of the Visitation the liturgy invites us to listen again to the passage of the Gospel of Luke that retells the journey of Mary from Nazareth to the house of he elderly cousin Elizabeth. Let us imagine the state of the Virgin after the Annunciation, when the angel left her. Mary found herself with a great mystery in her womb; she knew that something extraordinarily unique had happened; she realized that the last chapter in the history of the world’s salvation had begun. But everything around her remained as it was before, and the village of Nazareth knew nothing of that which had happened to her.
Before being concerned about herself, Mary thinks rather of the elderly Elizabeth, whom she knew was already in an advanced stage of pregnancy, and, driven by the mystery of love that she had just received into herself, she made her way “with haste” to go help Elizabeth. This is the simple and sublime greatness of Mary!When she arrived at Elizabeth’s house, something happened that no painter could ever render with the same beauty and profundity as the actual event. The interior light of the Holy Spirit enveloped them. And Elizabeth, enlightened from on high, exclaims: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! To what do I owe this visit of my Lord’s mother to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the child leapt for joy in my womb. Blessed is she who believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’s words” (Luke 1:42-45).
"These words might seem to be excessive to us given the actual context. Elizabeth is one of the many elderly women in Israel, and Mary is an unknown girl from a remote village of Galilee. What can they be and what can they do in a world in which other persons count and other powers hold sway? Nevertheless, Mary once again stupefies us; her heart is limpid, totally open to God’s light; her soul is without sin, not weighed down by pride and by egoism.Elizabeth’s words ignite a canticle of praise in her heart, which is an authentic and profound “theological” reading of history: a reading that we must continually learn from her whose faith is without shadows and without cracks. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” Mary acknowledges God’s greatness. This is the first indispensable sentiment of faith; the sentiment that gives certainty to the human creature and liberates the creature from fear, even in the midst of history’s storms.
"Going beyond the surface, Mary “sees” with the eyes of faith God’s work in history. For this reason she is blessed, because she believed: by faith, in fact, she welcomed the word of the Lord and conceived the incarnate Word. Her faith allowed her to see that the thrones of the powerful of this world are all provisional, while the throne of God is the only rock that does not change and does not fall. And Mary’s “Magnificat,” after centuries and millennia, remains the truest and the deepest interpretation of history, while the readings of the many wise persons of this world have been disproved by the facts over the course of the centuries.
"Dear brothers and sisters! Let us return home with the Magnificat in our heart. Let us carry in us Mary’s same sentiments of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, her faith and her hope, her docile abandonment into the hands of divine providence. Let us imitate her example of availability and generosity in serving our brothers and sisters. In fact, we are only able to raise a canticle of praise to the Lord by welcoming God’s love and making of our existence a disinterested and generous service of neighbor. May the Madonna obtain this grace for us, she who this night invites us to find refuge in her immaculate heart.