On the second-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year, Pope Benedict expressed his thanks to God for another year in “the great family of the Church” almost complete: “It is an inestimable gift, which permits us to live in history the mystery of Christ, welcoming in the paths of our personal and communal existence the seed of the Word of God, an eternal seed that from the inside transforms this world and opens it to the Kingdom of Heaven.”
St. Mark, he added, today presents us a part of the discourse of Jesus on the end times: “In this discourse, there is a sentence that is striking for its clear synthesis: ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’”
The expression “Heaven and earth,” Benedict XVI explained, appears frequently in the Bible to indicate all the universe, the entire cosmos. “Jesus,” he added, “declares that all that is destined to pass away, not only earth, but Heaven, which is included here in the cosmic sense, not as synonymous of God.”
“Sacred Scripture is unambiguous. All creation is destined to end, including elements divinized by ancient mythology. There is no confusion between creation and the Creator, but a clear difference.”
“With such clear distinction, Jesus affirms his words ‘will not pass away,’ which stand by the part of God and accordingly, are eternal,” the Pope expounded. “Pronounced with the concreteness of his early existence, these are prophetic words par excellence, as Jesus affirms (in the Gospel of St. John) when he turns to the heavenly Father: ‘the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.’”
In a well-known parable in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus compares himself to a sower and explains that the seed is the Word. “The ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit” are part of the Kingdom of God, the Holy Father said.
“That is, they live under his rule, remaining in the world, but no longer part of the world. They bear in themselves…a principle of transformation that already now manifests itself in a good life, animated by love, and in the end, will produce the resurrection of the body. Behold the power of the Word of God.”
The Pontiff concluded by explaining that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the living sign of this truth: “Her heart was “good earth” that welcomed with complete openness the Word of God, such that all her existence, transformed according to the image of the Son, was introduced to eternity, soul and body, anticipating the eternal vocation of each human being.”
“Now, in prayer, let us make our own her response to the Angel ‘may it be done to me according to your word,’ so that following Christ along the way of the cross, we too can reach the glory of the resurrection.”
With thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI focused his address on Sunday’s Mass reading from the Gospel of St. Mark. While creation is “destined to end,” he said, Jesus’ words are "eternal."