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Pope's Meditation at Synod's First Meeting

10/6/2005 - 6:15 AM PST

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"The Lord Is Close to Each One of Us"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's spontaneous meditation on Monday morning at the Synod of Bishops, after the reading of the Third Hour of the Liturgy of the Hours, taken from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (13:11).

* * *

Dear Brothers,

This Third Hour of today implies five imperatives and a promise. Let's try to understand a bit better what the Apostle intends to tell us through these words.

The first imperative is very frequent in the Letters of St. Paul; rather, one could say that it is almost the "cantus firmus" of his thought: "gaudete." The question stems from here: Is it possible to almost command joy? Joy, we should say, comes or does not come, but cannot be imposed as a duty. And here it helps us to think of the best-known text on joy in the Letters of St. Paul, the one of "Domenica Gaudete," in the heart of the liturgy of Advent: "Gaudete, iterum dico gaudete quia Dominus propest."

Here we see the reason why Paul in all his sufferings and tribulations could not only say to the others "gaudete" but could say so because he was filled with joy. "Gaudete, Dominus enim prope est."

If the loved one, love, the greatest gift of my life, is close to me, if I can be convinced that the one who loves me is close to me, even in situations of suffering, the joy that remains in the depth of my heart is ever greater than all sufferings.

The Apostle can say "gaudete" because the Lord is close to each one of us. And so this imperative in reality is an invitation to become aware of the Lord who is close to us. It is an awareness of the Lord's presence. The Apostle intends to make us sensitive to this -- hidden but very real -- presence of Christ in each one of us. The words of the Apocalypse are true for each one of us: I knock at your door, listen to me, open up to me.

This is therefore also an invitation to be aware of this presence of the Lord who knocks at my door. Do not be deaf to him, because the ears of our hearts are so full of so many noises in the world that we cannot hear this silent presence that knocks at our doors.

Let's reflect, at the same time, if we are truly ready to open the doors of our heart; or perhaps this heart is full of so many other things that there is no room for the Lord and for the time being we have no time for the Lord. And so, we are insensitive, deaf to his presence, full of other things, that we do not hear the essential. He knocks at the door, he is close to us and thus true joy is close, which is stronger than all the sorrows in the world, and in our life.

Therefore, let us pray within the context of this first imperative: Lord make us sensitive to your presence, help us to feel, not to be deaf to you, help us to have a free heart and be open to you.

The second imperative "perfecti estote," as can be read in the Latin text, seems to coincide with the summary word of the Sermon on the Mount: "perfecti estote sicut Pater vester caelestis perfectus est."

This word invites us to be what we are: images of God, creatures created in relation to the Lord, a "mirror" in which the light of the Lord is reflected. Not to live Christianity according to the letter, and not to hear the sacred Scripture according to the letter, is often difficult; it is historically questionable, but to go beyond the letter, the present reality, toward the Lord who speaks to us and thus in union with the
Lord.

However, if we look at the Greek text we find another verb, "catartizesthe," and this word means to redo, to repair an instrument, to re-establish something to its full functionality. The most frequent example for the apostles is to remake a net for the fishermen which is no longer in the right condition, which has so many holes that it no longer serves, to remake the net so that it can become a fishing net again, return to its perfection as an instrument for this work.

Another example: a string musical instrument which has a broken string, so music cannot be played as it should be. So in this imperative our soul appears like an apostolic net which nevertheless often does not work well, because it is torn by our own intentions; or like a musical instrument where unfortunately some chords are broken, and therefore the music of God which should sound from the depth of our soul cannot resound well. To remake this instrument, to know the afflictions, destructions, negligence, how much has been disregarded, and to try to see that this instrument is perfect and complete because it serves that for which it was created by the Lord.

So this imperative can also be an invitation to regularly examine my conscience, to see the condition of my instrument, to what extent it has been neglected, no longer works, and to try to return ...

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