07/10/2011, 00.00
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Jesus, God’s true ‘parable’ does not force us to believe but draws us to Him, pope says

Christ “respects our freedom”. The pontiff conducts his first Angelus from Castel Gandolfo, where he will spend his summer break. During his address, he mentioned the sailors abducted by pirates on Day of the Sea. We must learn from Saint Benedict, Europe’s patron saint, on “how to give God the place that He deserves, the first place, offering Him, with prayers in the morning and evening, our daily activities.”
Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) – “God’s true ‘parable’ is Jesus himself, his Person, which in the sign of humanity hides and at the same time reveals the divine. This way, God does not force anyone to believe in Him, but draws us to Him with the truth and goodness of his Son incarnate. Love, in fact, always respects freedom,” Benedict XVI said today before the Angelus prayer in the courtyard of the apostolic palace of Castel Gandolfo, where he began his summer break on Thursday.

Speaking about this Sunday’s Gospel (XVI during the year, A), which refers to the parable of the sower (Matthew, 1-23), the pope described parables as a ‘method’ Jesus used in preaching. ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ the disciples asked him (Mt, 13:10), and Jesus answered by distinguishing them from the crowd. He can openly speak about the Kingdom of God to his disciples, i.e. those who have already decided to follow Him. However, he must announce the kingdom to others using parables to encourage their decision and their heart’s conversion. Parables, in fact, by their very nature require an effort of interpretation and call on one’s intelligence and freedom. “And this He saith to draw them unto Him, and to provoke them, and to signify that if they would convert, He would heal them (Hom. on the Gospel of St Matthew, 45, 1-2), St John Chrysostom explained. After all, God’s true ‘parable’ is Jesus himself, his Person, which in the sign of humanity hides and at the same time reveals the divinity. This way, God does not force anyone to believe in Him, but draws people to Him with the truth and goodness of his Son incarnate. Love, in fact, always respects freedom”.

For the pontiff, the parable of the sower is “autobiographical” because it “reflects Jesus’ own experience and preaching. He identifies with the sower who spreads the good seed of the Word of God and sees the various effects it achieves, depending on how the news are received. Some barely listen to the Word and do not receive it, whilst others receive it momentarily but lack constancy and lose everything. Some more are overwhelmed by the concerns and seductions of the world, whilst others are receptive and like a good field listen; it is here that the Word bears fruit in abundance.”

In concluding his reflection, the pope also mentioned that tomorrow is the feast day of Saint Benedict, the Patron Saint of Europe. “Let us look upon him,” the pontiff noted, “as a teacher of how we must listen to the Word of God, with depth and perseverance. We must learn from the great Patriarch of Western monasticism how to give God the place that He deserves, the first place, offering Him, with prayers in the morning and evening, our daily activities. May the Virgin Mary help us be, like her, “good soil” where the seed of the Word may bear a lot fruit.”

Following the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI also spoke about chaplains and volunteers involved in the pastoral care of maritime workers, fishermen and their families on the ‘Day of the Sea’, the day the Church devotes to the apostolate among seafarers and mariners.

The pope, who met relatives of a number of sailors abducted by pirates, said, “I offer my prayer for the mariners who, sadly, are abducted in acts of piracy. I hope they are treated with respect and humanity, and I pray for their families so they are strong in their faith and don’t lose hope of soon being reunited with their loved ones."
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