Monday, June 25, 2007

Pope: John the Baptist, first “witness” of Christ and of the truth without compromise

An Angelus entirely dedicated to the figure of John the Baptist, “witness” of Christ and of the “truth without compromise”, was proclaimed by the pope today in St Peter’s Square, because he “knew how to remain faithful to Christ and to be a courageous witness of his truth and his love for all”.

Speaking to many pilgrims – some gathered with umbrellas and fans to find relief from the great heat – Benedict XVI underscored the value of John the Baptist “whose life was completely orientated on Christ, as was His mother, Mary”.

In fact of all the saints for whom the “dies natalis” (day of their death, that is their heavenly “birth”) is celebrated, the birthdays of John the Baptist and Mary are also celebrated

“By commemorating his birth – explained the pope – we are celebrating Christ, the realisation of all the promises made by the prophets, of which John the Baptist was the greatest, called to “prepare the way” for the Messiah ( Mth 11,9-10)”.

The pontiff recalled that “each of the Gospels begin narrating Christ’s public life with the story of his baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist” and he adds “My book Jesus of Nazareth also finds its source in Christ’s baptism in the river Jordan, an event of enormous resonance at the time”.

The event of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, allowed the latter to know “the full reality of Jesus of Nazareth” and to “make him known to Israel’ (Jn 1,31), indicating him as the Son of God and mankind’s redeemer: ‘This is the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world’ (Jn 1,29)”.

Another important element in the life of the Baptist is that he bore “witness to the truth without compromise”. And listing the many battles that the Church sustains in its defence of life, the family, religious freedom, human rights, Benedict XVI adds: He denounced the transgression of God’s commandments, even when the transgressors were powerful. Such as when he accused Herod and Erodiade of adultery, he paid with his life thus sealing with his martyrdom his service to Christ, who is Truth in person. We invoke his intercession together with the Virgin Mary, so that the Church of our times remains faithful to Christ and bears courageous witnesses of his truth and love for all”.

Following the Marian prayer and his greeting in various languages to the pilgrims, the pontiff thanked the Italian faithful for their “Day for Charity for the Pope”, a special collection that takes place the Sunday before the feats day of St’s Peter and Paul, in aid of the Holy See’s missionary work.

Speaking to all of the Italian faithful, Benedict XVI said “I am deeply grateful for the prayers and the solidarity with which you participate in the evangelising and charitable mission of St. Peter’s Successor and the entire world”.

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