02/18/2009, 00.00
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Pope: no one has the Gospel for himself alone, it is a gift for all

Benedict XVI today revisited the Church's duty to bring the word of Jesus to the world, illustrating the figure of the Venerable Bede at the general audience. The saint is responsible for establishing the birth of Christ as the point of reference for the calendar.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - No one has the Gospel for himself alone, it is also a gift for others. Benedict XVI today revisited the Church's duty to bring the word of Jesus to the world, speaking to the 20,000 people present at the general audience in St. Peter's Square. "For the first time this year," the pope said, "we are outside, even if it is cold, but at least it is not raining or snowing, so we have to be thankful for that." The wind, which whipped across the square for the entire audience, at a certain point blew the berretta off the pope's head.

Benedict XVI had the opportunity to talk about mission while he was illustrating the figure of the Venerable Bede, an English monk who lived from about 672 to 735.

He spent his life in a Benedictine monastery, where he was sent by his parents at the age of seven to be educated. "The instruction and reputation of his writings brought him friendships with the leading personalities of his time." He was the author of many works of theology and commentaries on the Bible, written to "educate the faithful to celebrate joyfully the sacred mysteries." Sacred Scripture was the constant source of his theological reflection. "He commented on the Bible, interpreting it in the light of Christology." "He listened attentively to what the text says, but he was convinced that in order to understand Sacred Scripture precisely, the key is Christ."

Bede also "detailed the first six ecumenical councils and their developments, presenting Christological and Mariological doctrine, denouncing the heresies of the Monophysites, the iconoclasts, and the neo-Pelagians." He was responsible for "the chronology that became the basis of the universal calendar still used today. Until his time, in fact, the years were counted from the foundation of the city of Rome. Bede, understanding that the true center of history is the birth of Christ, gave us the calendar that sees history 'ab incarnatione Domini'." He is also the author of the "Historia ecclesiastica gentis anglorum," for which reason "he is recognized as the father of English historiography."

Reviewing his work, Benedict XVI recalled an exhortation to consecrated persons, to "pay attention to the apostolate as well. No one, he said, has the Gospel for himself alone, it is also a gift for others." This means we must be willing to participate in "mission among the pagans, as pilgrims outside of their country." "Christ wants an industrious Church, tanned from the efforts of evangelization," "intent on tilling other fields and vineyards, and establishing among the new populations not a temporary hut, but a stable house," which means "inserting the Gospel within traditions and cultures, permitting it to permeate the social fabric."

Bede, finally, "by his work contributed effectively to the construction of a Christian Europe." "Let us pray," the pope concluded, "that today as well there may be figures like the Venerable Bede, and that we ourselves may be willing to rediscover our Christian roots, and thus be builders of a Christian, and therefore profoundly human, Europe."

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