08/23/2009, 00.00
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Following Jesus means going against the trend, beyond scandal and adaptation, says Pope

Jesus’ “hard” message impels many to reject and abandon it, or to adapt it to the fashions of the times distorting its true meaning. But following the Lord fills one with joy. Benedict XVI jokes about his wrist now free from the plaster, after his fall in Valle d'Aosta. Greetings to the participants of the Meeting of Rimini.

Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) - Following Jesus "fills hearts with joy and the full meaning of existence, but it also brings difficulties and sacrifices because very often it means going against the trend” of modern global mentality. That is how Benedict XVI concluded his reflections on the Sunday Gospel (the final part of the 6th chapter of John), when Jesus, after his speech on the "bread of life come down from heaven" meets great resistance among the Jews and the disciples.  

"The fourth Evangelist - explained the pope - relates the reaction of the people and disciples, shocked by the words of the Lord, to the point that many, after having followed him until then, exclaim: ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?' (V. 60). And from that moment on ‘many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him' (v. 66). Jesus, however, does not lessen his claim, indeed, he directly addresses the Twelve saying: 'Will you also go away?' (V. 67).  

"This provocative question - continued the pope - is not only addressed to listeners of the time, but to believers and men of every age. Even today, many are 'shocked' by the paradox of the Christian faith. Jesus’ teaching seems too 'hard', too difficult to accept and put into practice. As a result there are those who reject and abandon Christ; those who attempt to 'adapt' his teachings to the fashions of the times distorting its meaning and value. 'Will you also go away?'. This unsettling provocation resounds in our hearts and awaits a response from each one of us. Jesus in fact is not contented by a merely superficial or formal belonging, an initial and enthusiastic adhesion is not enough for Him; on the contrary, we must take part in 'his thinking and his will' throughout our entire life. Following Jesus "fills hearts with joy and the full meaning of existence, but it also brings difficulties and sacrifices because very often it means going against the trend”. 

At Jesus' question ( "Will you also go away?"), only St. Peter replies: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life and we believe and know that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6 , vv. 68-69).

And Benedict XVI concluded: "Dear brothers and sisters, we too can repeat Peter’s response, certainly aware of our human frailty, but confident in the power of the Holy Spirit, which is expressed and manifested in communion with Jesus. Faith is God's gift to man and is, at the same time, man’s free and total trusting of himself to God; docile faith, listening to the word of the Lord, that lamp for our feet, light for our path (cf. Psalm 119, 105). With confidence if we open our hearts to Christ, if we let ourselves be conquered by him, we too can experience together with the Cure d'Ars, that 'our own happiness on this earth is to love God and know that He loves us'. We ask the Virgin Mary to keep alive in us this faith steeped in love, which has made her, a humble maiden of Nazareth, Mother of God and mother and model for all believers. "

Earlier Benedict XVI had joked with the pilgrims in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo, showing his wrist without plaster, after the fall he had had in Val d'Aosta. "But - he said - I still have to follow the school of patience", perhaps meaning that he must still undergo physiotherapy to restore full dexterity.

After the Marian prayer and before the greetings in different languages, the pope addressed a greeting to the participants in the 30th edition of the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples, which opened today in Rimini, organised by the movement Communion and Liberation. Commenting on the title of this edition ( "Knowledge is always an event"), he said: "I wish it [the meeting] is an opportunity to understand that 'Learning is not only a material act, because ... In all knowledge and in every act of love the human soul experiences something “over and above”, which seems very much like a gift that we receive, or a height to which we are raised'(Enc. Caritas in Veritate, n. 77).

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