Cardinal Ratzinger's Recent Homily on 'Gaudium et Spes'
"Call of Justice Cannot Be Reduced to Categories of This World"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 28, 2005 (Zenit) - Catholic Online is publishing this recent homily of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, as a sample of his perspective on a key document of the Second Vatican Council.
* * *
St Peter's Basilica
March 18, 2005
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In our Gospel today, we sense the increasing tension between Christ and his opponents, a tension which is progressing, almost inevitably, to the events which lie at the center of our faith: the great mysteries of the Lord's passion, death and resurrection, which are now almost upon us.
In the Gospel, Jesus is confronted by his opponents; they are seeking to put him to death in spite of the good works which he has done -- works of mercy, compassion and love. They answer him: "We are not stoning you for a good work, but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God" (John 10:23).
Jesus' adversaries cannot deny the good works they have seen, but what they can deny is that these good works point to something more, to something beyond the works themselves.
His adversaries are enraged, not because Christ has healed the blind, but because he has said that these works of mercy point to his unique relationship to the Father: "The Father is in me and I am in the Father" (John 10:38).
Jesus is continually inviting his hearers to believe this truth of his identity, and to become, in him, capable of worshipping the Father "in spirit and truth" (cf. John 4:23). But they reject the significance of what they have seen and heard; they remain on the level of human judging and human justice, and they invoke the law that requires that blasphemy be punished by stoning. The stones in their hands reflect the hardness and the limitations of merely human judgment.
It is a joy for me to celebrate this Mass for you as part of your conference on the "Call to Justice," the legacy of the pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes," 40 years after its promulgation. In a certain sense, our Gospel today, which brings us to the very threshold of Holy Week, is providentially structured as a meditation on the problem which "Gaudium et Spes" sought to address: that is, the significance of the Christian contribution to the improvement of human welfare, through works of mercy and justice, within the overall mission of the Church.
The fact that your conference has chosen the theme of "The call to justice" is very appropriate.
Classical theology, as we know, understands the virtue of justice as composed of two elements which for Christians cannot be separated; justice is the firm will to render to God what is owed to God, and to our neighbor what is owed to him; indeed, justice toward God is what we call the "virtue of religion"; justice toward other human beings is the fundamental attitude that respects the other as a person created by God.
We should not be surprised if the attitudes toward Jesus that we find in the Gospel continue today in attitudes toward his Church.
It is certainly true that today, when the Church commits herself to works of justice on a human level (and there are few institutions in the world which accomplish what the Catholic Church accomplishes for the poor and disadvantaged), the world praises the Church.
But when the Church's work for justice touches on issues and problems which the world no longer sees as bound up with human dignity, like protecting the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death, or when the Church confesses that justice also includes our responsibilities toward God himself, then the world not infrequently reaches for the stones mentioned in our Gospel today.
As Christians we must constantly be reminded that the call of justice is not something which can be reduced to the categories of this world. And this is the beauty of the pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes," evident in the very structure of the Council's text; only when we Christians grasp our vocation, as having been created in the image of God and believing that "the form of this world is passing away ... [and] that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth, in which justice dwells" ("Gaudium et Spes," No. 39), can we address the urgent social problems of our time from a truly Christian perspective.
"Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectation of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, prefiguring in some way the world that is to come" (ibid., No. 39).
And so, to be workers of this true justice, we must be workers who are being made just by contact with him who is justice itself: Jesus of Nazareth. The place of this encounter is the Church, nowhere more powerfully present than in her sacraments and liturgy. The celebration of the holy triduum, which we will enter into next week, is the triumph of God's justice over human judgments.
In the mystery of Good Friday, God is judged by man and condemned by human justice.
In the Easter Vigil, the light of God's justice banishes the darkness of sin and death; the stone at the tomb (made of the same material as the stones in the hands of those who, in today's Gospel, seek to kill Christ) is pushed away for ever, and human life is given a future which, in going beyond the categories of this world, reveals the true meaning and the true value of earthly realities.
And we who have been baptized, as children of a world which is still to come, in the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, catch a glimpse of that world and breathe the atmosphere of that world, where God's justice will dwell for ever.
And then, renewed and transformed by the mysteries we celebrate, we can walk in this world justly, living -- as the Preface for Lent says so beautifully -- "in this passing world with our heart set on the world that will never end" (Preface for Lent II).
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Pope Benedict XVI - Bishop of Rome, 661 869-1000
Pope, Benedict, 'Gaudium et Spes, Homily, Justice, Ratzinger
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Deadbeat Republicans, do your job or GET OUT! HD Video
- Daily Readings for Friday, July 21, 2017
- Did the Church just marry three women to the same spouse in Detroit ...
- Daily Reading for Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 HD Video
- Family receives shocking MIRACLE after 9-month-pregnant woman is shot ...
- Cardinal Muller reports Pope Emeritus Benedict is 'disappointed' at ...
- St. Lawrence of Brindisi: Saint of the Day for Friday, July 21, 2017
- Daily Reading for Friday, July 21st, 2017 HD
- Why is Facebook censoring Catholic content? HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, July 20th, 2017 HD
- The one nasty reason you can't take your kids to the park anymore HD