Pope: Conversion is our most effective answer to evil, punishment the ruin of people and society
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Christ’s invitation to conversion, “to repent…is not just a simple moral dictate, but the most effective way to change oneself and society for the better”: Benedict XVI today placed at the basis of social renewal the most intimate element of Lenten preaching. Conversion is the only realistic attitude, “the only appropriate answer to events which undermine human certainties”.
The Pontiff drew his reflections before the Angelus from the gospel of this third Sunday of Lent which chronicles “two important events” of Christ’s time “The first: the revolt of some Galileans, bloodily suppressed by Pilate; the second the collapse of a tower in Jerusalem, which caused 18 victims. Two distinct tragedies: one caused by man, the other accidental”.
“According to the mentality of the time – explained the pope - people tended to think that these terrible events were brought upon the victims by some fault of their own. Instead Christ says: ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? … Or those eighteen people were guiltier than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? (Luke 13, 2.4). In both cases He concludes: By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!’ (13, 3.5)”.
The Pontiff maintains that in this was Jesus warns that “in the face of certain tragic events it is of no use to blame the victims. The truly wise instead recognise the precarious nature of existence and take on a responsible attitude towards it: by repenting and improving our lives”.
Conversion s neither an intimate nor moral attitude, but is of benefit to society. The Pontiff said the “it is the most effective response to evil, at every level, inter personal, social and international. Christ invites us to respond to evil first and foremost by seriously examining our own conscience and purifying our lives. Otherwise – he says – we will perish in a similar way. In fact the people and societies which live their lives without every questioning themselves are destined for ruination. Instead Conversion, though it will not save us from problems or misadventures, permits us to face them in a different ‘way’. Above all it helps us prevent evil, by defusing some of its threats. And it allows good to win over evil, maybe not at always at a practical level – often events occur beyond our will – but certainly at a spiritual level. In short: Conversion defeats evil at its very root which is sin, even if it may not always prevent its consequences”.
“Let u spray that the Blessed Virgin Mary accompanies us – concluded Benedict XVI – and sustain us on our Lenten journey, so that every Christian may rediscover the greatness, I would add the beauty of conversion. May She help to understand that penitence and correcting our behaviour is not just moralizing but the most appropriate way to better ourselves and society. A happy sentence expresses this concept well: Lighting a flame is worth far more that cursing obscurity”.
At the conclusion of his address, as is traditional, the pontiff greeted pilgrims in various languages that were present in their thousands in St Peter’s Square.