Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "We would eliminate a significant part of the Gospel" if we did not believe in angels. The pope reaffirmed this tradition of the Catholic faith at today's Angelus. The angels, Benedict XVI continued, "proclaim his [God's] presence among us, and are a sign of him. Let us invoke them often, that they may support us in our effort to follow Jesus to the point of being identified with him."
These spontaneous remarks were prompted by the pope's commentary on the gospel for today, the first Sunday of Lent. The Gospel of Mark says that "the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan" (Mk. 1:12-13). But "in front of this dark and shadowy figure that dares to tempt the Lord, the angels appear, luminous and mysterious figures. The angels, the Gospel says, 'ministered to' Jesus (Mk. 1:13); they are the counterpoint of Satan."
And after detailing the presence of the angels in the Old and New Testament, Benedict XVI added: "The angels ministered to Jesus, who is certainly superior to them, and his dignity is here proclaimed in the Gospel in a clear but discreet way. In fact, even in the situation of extreme poverty and humility, when he is tempted by Satan, he remains the Son of God, the Messiah, the Lord.
"Let us ask them," the pope concluded, "in particular today, to watch over me and my coworkers in the Roman Curia, who this afternoon, like every year, begin the week of spiritual exercises. Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray for us!"
In effect, from this afternoon until the morning of Saturday, March 7, the pontiff will take part in the spiritual exercises, preached by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on the topic: "The priest meets Jesus and follows him." During the week of the exercises, all of the audiences are suspended, including the one on Wednesday.
After the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI greeted the workers from the Fiat plant in Pomigliano d’Arco (Naples), "who have come to demonstrate their concern over the future of that factory and of the thousands of people who, directly or indirectly, depend on it for work."
The pope recalled "other situations that are equally difficult" in Italy and elsewhere. "I join," he added, "the bishops and the respective local Churches in expressing my nearness to the families affected by this problem, and I entrust them in prayer to the protection of Mary Most Holy and of St. Joseph, patron of workers. I wish to express my encouragement to the authorities, both political and civil, and also to business owners, so that this delicate moment can be addressed with the cooperation of all. There is a need, in fact, for a strong common effort, recalling that the priority must be given to workers and their families."