Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "World AIDS Day, a United Nations initiative intended to draw attention to a disease that has caused millions of deaths and tragic human suffering, will fall on 1 December," the pope told Catholics to encourage them to help people living with AIDS. "HIV/AIDS affects particularly the poorest regions of the world, where there is very limited access to effective medicines. My thoughts turn in particular to the large number of children who contract the virus from their mothers each year, despite the treatments which exist to prevent its transmission. I encourage the many initiatives that, within the scope of the ecclesial mission, have been taken in order to eradicate this scourge."
Benedict XVI made his appeal at the end of today's General Audience. Speaking before 8,000 people in the Paul VI Hall, he asked also a "central question," namely how to speak about God in our times, how to bring the Gospel to the "closed hearts of our contemporaries and to their minds distracted by the limelight of society," which however hold a "desire for authenticity".
First, "we can speak about God because God spoke to us. [. . .] God is not a faraway idea, an abstract intelligence far from us. God is interested in us; God loves us. [. . .] He himself communicated by incarnating himself."
"Speaking about God means first and foremost addressing the men and women of our times, not an abstract or hypothetical God, but a real God," one "who entered history."
Speaking about God requires "familiarity with Jesus and His Gospel, a profound knowledge of God and a strong passion for His plan for salvation, without giving in to the temptations of success, but following God's own method, humility. God became one of us. This is the method realised in the incarnation in the simple house in Nazareth and the Grotto in Bethlehem, that of the parable about the mustard seed. We must not fear the humility of small steps."
"We must return to the simplicity and essential nature of proclamation, the concrete Good News of God Who cares about us, the love of God which Jesus Christ brought close to us, even unto the Cross, and which in the Resurrection opens us to life without end, to eternal life."
Looking at "how Jesus Christ Himself communicated," we see that he was interested in "every human situation He encountered" and "immersed Himself in the lives of the men and women of His time, with complete trust in the help of the Father. The disciples, who lived with Jesus, and the crowds that met him, saw his reactions to different problems, how he spoke and behaved. They saw in Him the action of the Holy Spirit, God's action. In Him, proclamation and life were entwined: Jesus acted and taught, always taking as a starting point His intimate relationship with God the Father. This approach gives fundamental indications to Christians: living in faith and charity is a way of speaking about God in our times, because it demonstrates the credibility of what we say in words through a life lived in Christ."
"We must take care to grasp the signs of our times, and thereby to identify the potential, the desires and the obstacles we encounter in contemporary culture, in particular the desire for authenticity, the yearning for transcendence, the sensibility for protecting creation. And we must communicate without fear the answer offered by faith in God. The Year of Faith is an opportunity to discover with the active fantasy of the Holy Spirit new personal and community paths so that everywhere the strength of the Gospel is wisdom of life and direction for existence.
In concluding, the pope said, "Speaking about God, therefore, means enabling others to understand through words and acts that God is not a competitor in our existence but rather its true guarantor, the guarantor of the greatness of the human person. Thus we return to the beginning: speaking about God means communicating, with power and simplicity, through words and the life we lead, that which is essential: the God of Jesus Christ, the God Who showed us a love so great that He took on human flesh, died and rose again for us; the God Who asks us to follow Him and to allow ourselves to be transformed by His immense love in order to renew our lives and our relationships; the God Who gave us the Church, to allow us to journey together and, through the Word and the Sacraments, to renew the entire City of Man so that it might become the City of God."