Pope Benedict XVI- Angelus

On the Power of the Cross
"Taking up the Cross Means Committing Oneself to Defeating Sin"
H.H. Benedict XVI
June 20, 2010


Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This morning in St. Peter's Basilica I conferred the presbyteral order on 14 deacons of the Diocese of Rome. The sacrament of Holy Orders manifests, on God's part, his solicitous nearness to men and, on the part of him who receives, the complete availability to become the instrument of this nearness, with a radical love, to Christ and to the Church. In this Sunday's Gospel, the Lord asks his disciples: "But you, who do you say that I am?" (Luke 9:20). The Apostle Peter promptly answers this question: "You are the Christ, the Messiah of God" (Luke 9:20), thus going beyond all the earthly opinions that held Jesus to be one of the prophets. According to St. Ambrose, with this profession of faith, Peter "embraced everything together, because he expressed the nature and the name" of the Messiah (Exp. in Lucam VI, 93, CCL 14, 207). And Jesus, before this profession of faith, renews to Peter and the other disciples the invitation to follow him on the demanding road of love to the cross. To us too, who can know the Lord through faith in his Word and in the sacraments, Jesus makes the proposal to follow him every day and also reminds us that to be his disciples it is necessary to appropriate the power of the cross, the highest of our goods and the crown of our hope.

St. Maximus the Confessor observes that "the distinct sign of the power of our Lord Jesus Christ is the cross that he carried on his back" ("Ambiguum" 32, PG91, 1284 C). In fact, "[the Lord] said to everyone: 'If someone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). Taking up the cross means committing oneself to defeating sin, which blocks the way to God, accepting the Lord's will every day, making faith grow above all in the face of problems, difficulties, suffering. The holy Carmelite Edith Stein testified to this in a time of persecution. Thus she wrote at the Carmel of Cologne in 1938: "Today I understand ... what it means to be the bride of Christ in the sign of the cross, even though I will never completely comprehend it since it is a mystery ... The more that gloom surrounds us, the more we must open our heart to the light that comes from on high" ("La scelta di Dio. Lettere (1917-1942)," Roma 1973, 132-133). Even today there are many Christians in the world who, animated by God, assume the cross every day, whether it be daily trials, whether it be that procured by human barbarity, which sometimes requires the courage of the supreme sacrifice. May the Lord grant everyone of us always to place our firm hope in him, certain that, following him carrying our cross, we will reach the light of the Resurrection with him.

Let us entrust to the maternal care of the Virgin Mary the new priests ordained today, who join the ranks of those the Lord has called by name: May they always be faithful disciples, courageous proclaimers of the Word of God and administrators of the gifts of salvation.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the faithful in various languages. In Italian he said:]

I would like to make an urgent appeal that peace and security soon be reestablished in southern Kyrgyzstan after the grave clashes that have taken place in recent days. To the families of the victims and those who suffer because of this tragedy I express my heartfelt nearness and assurance of my prayers. I invite, furthermore, all the ethnic groups of the country to renounce all violence or provocation and I ask the international community to see that humanitarian aid may quickly reach the stricken populations.

Today the United Nations celebrates World Refugee Day, to recall attention to the problems of those who have been forced out of their own land and familiar customs, traveling to environments that, often, are profoundly different. Refugees desire to find welcome and to be recognized in their dignity and their fundamental rights; at the same time they intend to offer their contribution to the society that welcomes them. Let us pray that, in a just reciprocity, there be a response adequate to such expectations and they show the respect that they have for the identity of the community that receives them.

[The Holy Father said in English:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel Jesus calls us to carry our cross in union with him. May we always give ourselves to him and thus discover anew the joy that he promises to those who follow him. Upon you and your loved ones at home, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]


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