MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS
FOR LENT 2007
“They shall look on Him
whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37)
"Dear Brothers and Sisters!
"They shall look on him whom they have pierced" (Jn 19: 37). This is the biblical theme that this year guides our Lenten reflection. Lent is a favourable time to learn to stay with Mary and John, the beloved disciple, close to him who on the Cross, consummated for all mankind the sacrifice of his life (cf. Jn 19: 25). With a more fervent participation let us direct our gaze, therefore, in this time of penance and prayer, at Christ Crucified who, dying on Calvary, revealed fully for us the love of God....
The Cross reveals the fullness of God's love
It is in the mystery of the Cross that the overwhelming power of the Heavenly Father's mercy is revealed in all of its fullness. In order to win back the love of his creature, he accepted to pay a very high price: the Blood of his Only Begotten Son. Death, which for the first Adam was an extreme sign of loneliness and powerlessness, was thus transformed in the supreme act of love and freedom of the new Adam. One could very well assert, therefore, together with St Maximus the Confessor, that Christ "died, if one could say so, divinely, because he died freely" (Ambigua, 91, 1056). On the Cross, God's eros for us is made manifest. Eros is indeed, as Pseudo-Dionysius expresses it, that force which "does not allow the lover to remain in himself but moves him to become one with the beloved" (De Divinis Nominibus, IV, 13: PG 3, 712). Is there more "mad eros" (N. Cabasilas, Vita in Cristo, 648) than that which led the Son of God to make himself one with us even to the point of suffering as his own the consequences of our offences?
"Him whom they have pierced"
Dear brothers and sisters, let us look at Christ pierced on the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God's love, a love in which eros and agape, far from being opposed, enlighten each other. On the Cross, it is God himself who begs the love of his creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us. The Apostle Thomas recognized Jesus as "Lord and God" when he put his hand into the wound of his side. Not surprisingly, many of the saints found in the Heart of Jesus the deepest expression of this mystery of love. One could rightly say that the revelation of God's eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of his agape. In all truth, only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instils a joy which eases the heaviest of burdens. Jesus said: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12: 32). The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome his love and allow ourselves to be drawn to him. Accepting his love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ "draws me to himself" in order to unite himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with his own love."
This is edited, because the original version was too long to post. The original version can be found here: Vatican Website
So much for the predictions of those who thought he would be a stiff, stern, unforgiving pope. Almost everything he's written since his election has focused on the meaning of love at a depth rarely seen elsewhere. And (so much for accusations of extreme dogmatism) some of the points he makes - for example, that God's love for us is also a form of eros (which, "denotes the love of one who desires to possess what he or she lacks and yearns for union with the beloved") - are almost revolutionary in their profound and unique look at God's relationship with humanity.