02-10-11

Pope Benedict XVI: pray for persecuted evangelists

benoit xvi angelus.jpgGod’s “concern” for every human being, shown especially by the protection of guardian angels, was one of the focal points of Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks to the faithful gathered for the Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope also discussed this Sunday's Gospel, noting that the reading from the 21st chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, “closes with a particularly severe warning from Jesus, addressed to the chief priests and elders of the people: Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit. (Matt. 21.43).”


“These words,” said Pope Benedict, “make us think of the great responsibility of those who in every age, are called to work in the vineyard of the Lord, especially in a role of authority.” He said these words urgently call the pastors of the Church to renew their full fidelity to Christ, who, recalled Pope Benedict, is the stone which the builders rejected (cf. Mt 21:42), because they considered Christ an enemy of the law and a danger to public order. “Rejected and crucified,” said Pope Benedict, “Christ rose again, becoming the ‘cornerstone’ on which the foundation of all human existence and the whole world may rest with absolute certainty.” 

“Firmly anchored in faith in the cornerstone who is Christ, abiding in Him like the branch that can not bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine. Only in Him, through Him and with Him is the Church, the people of the New Covenant, built.”

After the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Benedict looked forward to the Sunday afternoon beatification in the north-western Italian city of Ivrea, of Sr. Antonia Maria Verna, foundress in 1838 of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea – a congregation that now has a worldwide mission of providing education, children’s catechesis and health care to the home-bound.

The Holy Father also had greetings for pilgrims in many languages, including English, during which he prayed especially that God give stout hearts to those who face persecution as they preach the Gospel:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. In particular, I extend cordial greetings to the participants in the Second International Congress on Divine Mercy in Krakow, and to the students from Iona College, Australia. The Gospel of today’s liturgy spurs us to pray for all who work in the Lord’s vineyard, especially where they face violence and threats because of their faith. May God grant them, and all of us, strength in our service to him and to one another. God bless all of you! 

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