.- Pope Benedict hosted priests from the Diocese of Rome in the Vatican's Benediction Hall on Thursday morning for a "lectio divina" during their traditional Lenten audience. The Pope used his reflection on St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews to encourage priests to protect communion between God and man, especially in areas under attack by society.
Referring to the Letter to the Hebrews, the Holy Father shed light on the nature of the priest. "The author of the Letter," he said, "understood that in Christ two premises are united: (that) Christ is the true King, the Son of God ... but also (that) the true priest... finds in Christ the key, his fulfilment."
And in him, said the Holy Father, the priesthood finds its "purity and its profound truth."
The mission of the priest, he continued, is to be a "mediator, a bridge that links and so carries man to God, to his redemption, his true light, his true life." In order to maintain this communion between humanity and divinity, priests must partake in daily, constant prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist.
"We must always return again to the sacrament, return to this gift in which God gives me much more than I could ever give ... a priest must be truly a man of God, must know God deeply and know him in communion with Christ," said Pope Benedict.
"We must live this communion," he told his fellow priests.
In doing so, added the Bishop of Rome, the priest must also be willing to stand up to those elements that hurt communion with God, specifically, the tendency of some to pass off lying and stealing today, merely saying, "It's human."
"But, this is not the true 'being human,'" the Pope insisted.
"Human is being generous, human is being good, human is being a man of justice" and, he underscored, sin never leads to solidarity but has the opposite effect.
The Holy Father also mentioned obedience as "a word that we don't like in our times" because it gives the impression of "alienation" or a "servile manner." He pointed out that we tend to seek out "freedom" instead of "obedience."
"But," he reflected, "considering this problem closely, we see that these two things go together."
"The will of God is not a tyrannical will, but it's exactly the place we find our true identity," he said.
"Let's really pray to the Lord, so that he may help us to see intimately that this is freedom and so enter joyfully into this obedience and pick up the human being and carry him - with our example, with our humility, with our prayer, with our pastoral action - into communion with God."