.- Before Sunday’s Angelus prayer with pilgrims in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about today’s Gospel, in which Jesus' teaching about his presence in the Eucharist is met with resistance from the Jews and his own disciples. Followers of Christ must respond to his challenging teachings with lifelong commitment instead of trying to adapt his teachings to the fashions of the times, the Pope said.
"The fourth Evangelist,” Pope Benedict explained, “relates the reaction of the people and disciples, shocked by the words of the Lord to the point that many, after having followed him until then, exclaim, ‘This saying is hard, who can accept it?'”
Benedict XVI continued reading, reciting, “And from that moment on ‘many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.'”
The Pope then noted, “Jesus, however, does not lessen his claim. Indeed, he directly addresses the twelve saying, 'Will you also go away?’”
"This provocative question,” the Pope taught, “is not only addressed to listeners of the time, but to believers and men of every age. Even today, many are shocked by the paradox of the Christian faith.”
Because “Jesus’ teaching seems too hard, too difficult to accept and put into practice,” Pope Benedict observed that, “As a result there are those who reject and abandon Christ, those who attempt to adapt his teachings to the fashions of the times distorting its meaning and value.”
“Will you also go away?' This unsettling provocation resounds in our hearts and awaits a response from each one of us. Jesus in fact is not contented by a merely superficial or formal belonging, an initial and enthusiastic adhesion is not enough for Him. On the contrary, we must take part in 'his thinking and his will' throughout our entire life,” the Holy Father said.
Drawing his words to a close, the Pope said, “Faith is God's gift to man and is, at the same time, man’s free and total trusting of himself to God.” “Docile faith, listening to the word of the Lord, that lamp for our feet, light for our path…We ask the Virgin Mary to keep alive in us this faith steeped in love, which has made her, a humble maiden of Nazareth, Mother of God and mother and model for all believers,” he prayed.
After the Marian prayer, the Pope greeted participants of the lay movement Communion and Liberation, who are gathering for their 30th annual Friendship Among Peoples meeting, which opened today in Rimini, Italy. Commenting on this year's theme, “Knowledge Is Always An Event,” he referred to his recent encyclical “Caritas in Veritate”: “'Learning is not only a material act, because…In all knowledge and in every act of love the human soul experiences something ‘over and above,’ which seems very much like a gift that we receive, or a height to which we are raised.”