11/25/2012, 00.00
Send to a friend

Pope tells new cardinals to bear witness to God's Kingdom against the interests of the world and its power centres

During the Mass co-celebrated with the cardinals created yesterday, Benedict XVI clearly made a distinction between the "kingdom of God" and earthly kingdoms. The first one is based on love and bearing witness to the truth, not weapons, violence and power. Being a disciple of Christ in his kingship means converting and giving one's life for loved ones. Cardinal Harvey notes that the pope shows us a theology elaborate on "one's knees"; he also talks about the mission ad gentes and the new evangelisation. During the Angelus, the pontiff stressed the fact that the new prelates express the Church's universality, since they come from Lebanon, India, Nigeria, Colombia and the Philippines.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "To you, dear and venerable Brother Cardinals-I think in particular of those created yesterday-is entrusted this demanding responsibility: to bear witness to the kingdom of God, to the truth. This means working to bring out ever more clearly the priority of God and his will over the interests of the world and its powers." This is the exhortation Benedict XVI made to the College of Cardinals that came together in Saint Peter's for the traditional Eucharist along with the new prelates: James Michael Harvey, archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls; His Beatitude Béchara Boutros Raï, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites (Lebanon); His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (India); John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria); Rubén Salazar Gómez, archbishop of Bogotá (Colombia), and Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila (Philippines).

All these new cardinals represent Churches that are persecuted or in conflict with fundamentalists, mafias, politicians and militaries. In Nigeria, massacres have recently been perpetrated in churches by Boko Haram fundamentalists. The Syrian civil war has had an impact in Lebanon, which also experienced a long civil war. In the Philippines, economic and political interests have tried for years to impose birth controls. In India, the Christian minority is often marginalised and victimised by violent Hindu nationalist groups. Even Cardinal Harvey, a former prefect of the Pontifical Household, had to deal with the scorn of the powers over the Vatileaks affairs.

In his homily, the pope made a clear-cut distinction. "God's kingdom is of a completely different kind". [. . .] To be disciples of Jesus [. . .] means not letting ourselves be allured by the worldly logic of power, but bringing into the world the light of truth and God's love."

The pontiff spoke as he commented today's readings on the day the Church celebrates Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Speaking about the Gospel (Jn, 18:33-37), he said that "Jesus appears in humiliating circumstances-he stands accused-before the might of Rome. He had been arrested, insulted, mocked, and now his enemies hope to obtain his condemnation to death by crucifixion. They had presented him to Pilate as one who sought political power, as the self-proclaimed King of the Jews. The Roman procurator conducts his enquiry and asks Jesus: 'Are you the King of the Jews?' (Jn, 18:33). In reply to this question, Jesus clarifies the nature of his kingship and his messiahship itself, which is no worldly power but a love which serves. He states that his kingdom is in no way to be confused with a political reign: 'My kingship is not of this world ... is not from the world' (v. 36)."

"Jesus clearly had no political ambitions. After the multiplication of the loaves, the people, enthralled by the miracle, wanted to take him away and make him their king, in order to overthrow the power of Rome and thus establish a new political kingdom which would be considered the long-awaited kingdom of God. But Jesus knows that God's kingdom is of a completely different kind; it is not built on arms and violence. The multiplication of the loaves itself becomes both the sign that he is the Messiah and a watershed in his activity: henceforth the path to the Cross becomes ever clearer; there, in the supreme act of love, the promised kingdom, the kingdom of God, will shine forth. But the crowd does not understand this; they are disappointed and Jesus retires to the mountain to pray in solitude (cf. Jn, 6:1-15). In the Passion narrative we see how even the disciples, though they had shared Jesus' life and listened to his words, were still thinking of a political kingdom, brought about also by force. In Gethsemane, Peter had unsheathed his sword and began to fight, but Jesus stopped him (cf. Jn, 18:10-11). He does not wish to be defended by arms, but to accomplish the Father's will to the end, and to establish his kingdom not by armed conflict, but by the apparent weakness of life-giving love."

"Jesus," the pope added, "speaks of kings and kingship, yet he is not referring to power but to truth. Pilate fails to understand: can there be a power not obtained by human means? A power which does not respond to the logic of domination and force? Jesus came to reveal and bring a new kingship, that of God; he came to bear witness to the truth of a God who is love (cf. 1 Jn, 4:8,16), who wants to establish a kingdom of justice, love and peace (cf. Preface). Whoever is open to love hears this testimony and accepts it with faith, to enter the kingdom of God."

Referring to the first reading (Daniel, 7:13-14), he added: "the power of the true Messiah, the power which will never pass away or be destroyed, is not the power of the kingdoms of the earth which rise and fall, but the power of truth and love. In this way we understand how the kingship proclaimed by Jesus in the parables and openly and explicitly revealed before the Roman procurator, is the kingship of truth, the one which gives all things their light and grandeur."

Christ's kingship has consequences for all of us for "we too participate in Christ's kingship." Taking his cue from the second reading (Book of Revelation, 1: 5-8), Benedict XVI said: "In the acclamation addressed to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood," Christ "has made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father" (1:5-6). Here too it is clear that we are speaking of a kingdom based on a relationship with God, with truth, and not a political kingdom. By his sacrifice, Jesus has opened for us the path to a profound relationship with God: in him we have become true adopted children and thus sharers in his kingship over the world. To be disciples of Jesus, then, means not letting ourselves be allured by the worldly logic of power, but bringing into the world the light of truth and God's love."

"The author of the Book of Revelation," he went on to say, "reminds us that conversion, as a response to God's grace, is the condition for the establishment of this kingdom (cf. 1:7). It is a pressing invitation addressed to each and all: to be converted ever anew to the kingdom of God, to the lordship of God, of Truth, in our lives. We invoke the kingdom daily in the prayer of the 'Our Father' with the words 'Thy kingdom come'; in effect we say to Jesus: Lord, make us yours, live in us, gather together a scattered and suffering humanity, so that in you all may be subjected to the Father of mercy and love."

In concluding, he said," To you, dear and venerable Brother Cardinals-I think in particular of those created yesterday-is entrusted this demanding responsibility: to bear witness to the kingdom of God, to the truth. This means working to bring out ever more clearly the priority of God and his will over the interests of the world and its powers. Become imitators of Jesus, who, before Pilate, in the humiliating scene described by the Gospel, manifested his glory: that of loving to the utmost, giving his own life for those whom he loves. This is the revelation of the kingdom of Jesus. And for this reason, with one heart and one soul, let us pray: Adveniat regnum tuum - Thy kingdom come. Amen."

At the beginning of the Mass, Card Harvey, on behalf of all new cardinals, delivered a brief address to greet Benedict XVI. After expressing his gratitude for being called to the College, Card Harvey expressed his profound appreciation for the pope's pontificate. "Holy Father," he said, "when you accepted the duty of the Petrine Ministry in 2005, the Church and the world knew you as a distinguished intellect, one of the great theologians of our times. Now, after seven and half years, the Church and the world have come to know you better. They have understood that your extraordinary mastery of the truths of Christian doctrine and your unique capacity to breathe life into these truths through your catecheses and homilies are rooted in a deep faith. This faith, we are certain, has become richer through a life of studies and teaching, governed by the regula fidei and nurtured by the Liturgy of the Church. Your life as a scholar-as a priest and professor, as diocesan bishop, prefect of the Roman Curia and lastly as bishop of Rome-was a living lesson that bore witness to the fact that the deepest theology is not expressed in theories but is elaborated on one's knees."  

Mgr Harvey ended his address by talking about the decision to join the pope in the new evangelization. "The Church exists as a response to the Great Mission of preaching the Gospel ad gentes. In this year providential Year of Faith, we shall seek with greater vigour to place in the service of the world the most beautiful gift of which we are capable, namely sharing with humanity the Way, Truth and Life, of the One who gently brings brothers and sisters to the Throne of Grace so that their human destiny can be accomplished."

"In accepting from your hands the honour of cardinalship, we fully pledge ourselves, supported by divine Grace, to be persevering and responsible workers of the New Evangelisation."

At the end of the Mass, Benedict XVI came to the window of his studio for the Angelus prayer before the faithful in Saint Peter's Square. Before the function, he spoke of the value of today's feast day and about the kingship of Jesus Christ.

"All the mission of Jesus and the contents of His message consist in announcing the Kingdom of God and implementing it among men through signs and wonders. 'But - as the Second Vatican Council reminds us-above all, the Kingdom is made manifest through the person of Christ (Lumen gentium, 5), who established it through His death on the Cross and His Resurrection, whereby He showed Himself to be the Lord and Messiah, the High Priest for eternity. This Kingdom of God was entrusted to the Church, which is the 'seed' and the 'beginning', and has the task of announcing it and spreading it amongst all peoples through the strength of the Holy Spirit (ibid.) At the end of time, the Lord will deliver the Kingdom to God the Father and will present to Him all those who have lived according to the commandment of love."

The pontiff then urged the faithful to pray for the new cardinals. "These new members of the College of Cardinals well represent the universal dimension of the Church: they are pastors of the Church in Lebanon, in India, in Nigeria, in Colombia, in the Philippines, and one of them has been for many years in the service of the Holy See."

"Let us invoke the protection of Mary Most Holy upon each one of them and upon the faithful entrusted to their care. May the Virgin help each one of us to live this present time as we await the return of the Lord, as we decisively pray to God: 'Your Kingdom come', and as we carry out those works of light which bring us ever closer to Heaven, knowing that, in the tormented affairs of history, God continues to build His Kingdom of love."

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Pope: Men talk about light but often prefer the deceiving quiet of darkness
King Abdullah, a cautious reformer on the Saudi throne (Overview)
King Fahd, between openness to the US and support for Islamic fundamentalism (Overview)
Pope: A silent prayer for Muslims killed in North Sinai Mosque attack
26/11/2017 13:27
Pope: The logic of the Gospel is expressed in humility and selflessness


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”