Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) – “Dear brothers and sisters, if we want to . . . pass through the narrow gate, we must commit ourselves to being small, that is humble of heart like Jesus; like Mary, His and our mother. . . . Christians call upon Her as Ianua Caeli, Heaven’s Gate. Let us ask Her to guide us in our daily choices, take us to the path that leads to ‘Heaven’s Gate’.”
In today’s Angelus Benedict XVI joined the devotion to Mary and the Gospel’s needs by explaining a ‘perplexing’ passage from the Holy Scriptures quoted in this Sunday’s liturgy, when Jesus said: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough (Lk 13:23-24).”
The Pontiff explained that in Christianity there are not “privileged gateways”. “The gateway to eternal life is open to all, but is ‘narrow’ because it is demanding, requires commitment, abnegation and denial of one’s own selfishness”.
What is more, “he is the one Redeemer inviting us to his feast of immortal life, but on one and only condition, that of following and imitating him, bearing as He did our own cross and devoting one’s life to one’s brothers. This is the single, universal condition to join the heavenly life.”
Talking about today’s liturgy, the Pope excluded religious practices as a “source of security” and “false merits.”
“On the last day,” Benedict XVI added, “it is not on the basis of alleged privileges that we shall be judged but on the merit of our deeds. The ‘agents of iniquity’ will find themselves excluded whilst those who did good deeds at the cost of sacrifices shall be welcomed. It will not be enough to say that ‘I was a friend” of Christ, and claim false merits like: ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets’ (Lk 13:26). True friendship for Jesus is expressed in how one lives; in the goodness of one’s heart; in one’s humility, kindness and mercy, in one’s love for justice and truth; in one’s sincere commitment to peace and reconciliation. This, we might say, is the ‘identity card’ that qualifies us as true ‘friends;’ it is the ‘passport’ that will let us enter eternal life.”
After the Marian prayer, the Pope in his multilingual greetings addressed a group of Muslim, Orthodox, Lutheran and Catholic religious leaders from Kazakhstan who, following meetings in Padua and Assisi, will visit the Vatican.
“Your gathering in Assisi and in Padua,” said the Pontiff, “together with your meetings in the Vatican, are a sure sign of the hope that mutual understanding and respect between religious communities can overcome distrust and promote the way of peace which springs from truth. Be assured of my prayers for the success of your visit and may your efforts bear much fruit for the noble land of Kazakhstan and beyond!
The Pope was warmly greeted by all those present with songs, slogans, flags and banners. Among the pilgrims many were form Korea.