01/31/2010, 00.00
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Pope: Charity is "the badge of a Christian"

Angelus, Benedict XVI invites prayers for peace in the Holy Land and thoughts for those who have lost their jobs in the economic crisis. World Day of Leprosy Suffers.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - An invitation to join in prayer for peace in the Holy Land and some thoughts on how many are losing their jobs because of the economic crisis, in the words of Benedict XVI to twenty thousand people present in St Peter's Square, despite the rainy day, after the midday Angelus prayer, before the recital of which the pope spoke of charity, as "the badge of Christianity."   

Taking a cue from the passage of St Paul in this Sunday’s liturgy, the so-called "hymn of charity”, the Pope stressed that "Paul shows us the 'path' to perfection. This - he says - does not consist in possessing exceptional qualities: speaking new languages, knowing all mysteries, having wonderful faith or carrying out heroic gestures. Rather it consists in charity - agape - that is in true love, what God has revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Charity is the ‘greatest gift’, which gives value to everything else, but  it 'does not boast, it is not swollen with pride,' indeed, it 'rejoices in the truth' and the good of others. Who really loves 'does not seek his own interests', he 'takes no account of evil received', he 'bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things' (cf. 1 Cor 13:4-7). Eventually, when we meet face to face with God, all the other gifts will be less; the only one that will remain forever is charity, because God is love and we shall be like Him, in perfect communion with Him. "  

"For now - he continued - while we are in this world, charity is the badge of a Christian. It is the synthesis of his whole life for what he believes and what he does. For this reason, at the beginning of my pontificate, I wanted to dedicate my first Encyclical to the theme of love: Deus Caritas Est. As you recall, this encyclical is composed of two parts, which correspond to the two aspects of love: its meaning, and therefore its implementation. Love is the essence of God himself, it is the sense of creation and history, it is the light that gives goodness and beauty to every human existence. At the same time, love is, so to speak, the 'style' of God and he who believes, it is the behaviour of those who, responding to the love of God, lays down his own life as a gift of self to God and to neighbour. In Jesus Christ these two aspects form a perfect unity: He is Love Incarnate. This love is revealed to us fully in Christ crucified. "  

Many themes were touched upon by Benedict XVI, after the Marian prayer.  The Holy Land as well as those suffering from leprosy. "The last Sunday of January - he said - is the World Day of Leprosy Suffers. One thinks immediately of Father Damien de Veuster, who gave his life for these brothers and sisters, and who last October, I declared a saint. To his celestial protection I commend all the people who unfortunately are still suffering from this disease, as well as health workers and volunteers who devote themselves so there might be a world without leprosy. I greet in particular the Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau”.  

"Today - he said then - it also celebrates the second day of intercession for peace in the Holy Land. In communion with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Custody of the Holy Land, I unite myself spiritually in prayer with the many Christians from all over the world, while I warmly greet those who are gathered here for this occasion. "A message of peace - added the Pope – is also brought to us by the boys and girls of Catholic Action Rome." Traditionally, they conclude the month of January with the "Peace Caravan" and the end of the audience two of them are invited to the Papal apartments from where they release two doves from the window, a symbol of peace.  

A thought, finally, for those who are losing their jobs, with the statement that "this situation requires a great sense of responsibility on the part of all: employers, workers, governments. “





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