Rome (AsiaNews) - The "primacy" of Peter has a "content of universality" but also of martyrdom because the apostle knows that in the capital of the ancient world death by crucifixion awaits him. Eventually, "the cross can have different forms but no one can be Christian without accepting martyrdom," said Benedict XVI (pictured), who delivered his lectio divina last night during the traditional visit to Rome's Major Seminary on the feast day of Our Lady of Trust. Some 200 seminarians listened to the pontiff who later shared a meal with those present.
In his comment about the first Letter of Peter, Benedict XVI said, "the man who first spoke on behalf of the future Church, and to whom the Lord handed the keys to the Kingdom and entrusted his flock after the Resurrection," was a "man full of passion and desire for the Kingdom of God," who "fell, sinned but remained under the Lord's gaze."
Speaking about the letter, "almost the first encyclical" in which Peter speaks "to the Church of every age," the pope noted that the apostle called "the faithful scattered in the Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia" as the "elect".
This is the "paradox of glory and cross, elect and yet scattered and stranger." Being "elect, i.e. chosen was the pride of the people of Israel. God chose us because he loved us. Now Peter transferred this to all those who were baptised, who are the new Israel."
"We are the elect; God has always known us. Before our birth, before our conception, he wanted me to be Catholic and a priest."
"Among millions of people, he chose me, made me elect, but not on merit." For this, "we must grateful and jealous, for God chose me to be Catholic, a bearer of his Gospel, and a priest."
As the "Elect, scattered and strangers, Christians are" today" the most persecuted group in the world because they do not conform, because they are different, because they are against tendencies of selfishness and materialism".
"Of course, as Christians we are proud of our contribution to the development of many cultures. A sound patriotism exists. But we are also strangers." Even today, Christians are still in the minority, in the workplace for example. They are estranged in the situations in which they live, marvelling that one can still live this way. But this part of the faith. We are with the crucified Christ; we are strangers. We do not live like everyone; we live according to his word, in great diversity. 'Everybody does it this way; why not me? I do not because I want to live according to God'."
In his address, the pope focused also on "three words: regenerated, inheritance and custodian of the faith".
"Regenerated does not mean being Christian only out of my will" as in: "I join a group I like and whose goals I share."
"In the first place, being reborn is passive, letting oneself be transformed and regenerated". It is about the depth of being, and "starts with God's action."
"Inheritance is a very important word in the Old Testament." Abraham is the "heir" to the Promised Land. "The New Testament means we are the heirs, not of a specific land, but of God's future. We hold the future. The future belongs to us and God."
"We know that the Church's tree is not dying but growing ever anew." As "Pope John put it, there is "no reason to be afraid of prophets of doom, those who think that 'it is time for the Church to die'."
"The Church is always renewing itself; it is always reborn." We must reject pessimism but also the optimism of those who, "when convents and seminaries close, say that everything was okay. Some failures have occurred. Realistically, we must acknowledge that some things have gone wrong."
"Although the Church is dying in some places because of men's sins, it is also going through a rebirth. We are certain that the Church is God's tree and that it carries eternity within."
We are the custodians of the faith. "Peter uses a Greek word that means the guardian who protects the integrity of my being and faith." Thus, "The faith must be the guardian of my life", aware that "God will not leave me."