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Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Benedict on St Paul (12) PDF Print E-mail

WORLD OF JUSTICE CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT CHRIST

VATICAN CITY, 12 NOV 2008 (VIS) - In his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Pope turned his attention to St. Paul's eschatological teaching.

In his First Letter to the Thessalonians, said the Holy Father, "St. Paul speaks of the return of Jesus, an event known as the 'parusia' or advent". The saint describes this vividly "using symbolic images that nonetheless transmit a simple and profound message: 'In the end we will be with the Lord forever'. ... Our future is 'to be with the Lord'".

Benedict XVI pointed out how in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle "changes perspective and speaks of the negative events that will precede the end. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived, he says, as if the Day of the Lord were truly imminent by some chronological calculation. ... The continuation of the Pauline text makes it clear that the coming of the Lord will be preceded by apostasy and by the appearance of a person identified only as 'the lawless one', the 'one destined for destruction', whom tradition came to identify as the Antichrist".

The Pope examined the fundamental attitudes a Christian must adopt in the face of the ultimate realities of death and the end of the world: "The first attitude", he said, "must be the certainty that Jesus rose and that, with the Father, He remains with us forever. ... Secondly, the certainty that Christ is with me; and since the future world has already begun in Christ, this gives us the certainty of hope. The future is not an area of darkness in which no-one can find their way. ... Without Christ, the future is dark even today. ... Christians know that the light of Christ is stronger and hence they experience a hope that is not vain, a hope that gives certainty and courage to face the future".

The third attitude, the Pope went on, "is responsibility before Christ for the world and for our fellow man and, at the same time, the certainty of His mercy. ... We have to work to ensure this world opens to Christ, that it is renewed. ...We know that God is the true Judge, we are sure He is good, we know His face, the face of the risen Christ. ... For this reason we can be sure of His goodness and live our lives courageously".

At the end of his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul "repeats a prayer of the early Christian communities of Palestine, putting it into the mouths of the Corinthians themselves: 'Marana tha! Our Lord, come!' ... which is also how the Book of the Apocalypse ends. ... Can we pray like this today? In our lives, in our world, it is difficult to pray sincerely for this world to perish, for the coming of the New Jerusalem, the Final Judgement, Christ the Judge. ... Nonetheless, like the first Christian community we can say: Come Jesus! Of course we do not want the end of the world to come now. On the other hand, we do want the world of injustice to end, we do want the world to change, the civilisation of love to begin, a world of justice and peace to come, a world without violence and hunger. ... But without the presence of Christ a truly just and renewed world will never come".

"We can and must cry out urgently in the circumstances of our own time: Come, Lord! Come in Your way, in the ways that You know. Come where there is injustice and violence. Come into the refuge camps of Darfur and North Kivu, in so many parts of the world. Come where drugs dominate. Come also among the rich who have forgotten You and who live for themselves alone. Come where You are known. Come in Your way and renew today's world. Come also into our hearts ... that we too may become light of God, Your presence".