During a Mass celebrated Sunday at the Vatican’s parish of Saint Anne, Pope Benedict warned that a modern-day fog of ideologies and idolatries which ignore God, threatens to damage and distort true respect and dignity for the human person.
During his homily, the Pope commented on the Gospel reading from Mark, in which Jesus goes to the house of Simon Peter and encounters Peter's mother-in-law who has a severe fever.
"Jesus, coming from the Father,” Benedict said, “goes toward the house of humanity, our earth and finds humanity ill, sick with the fever, the fever of ideologies, idolatry, and the forgetting about God.”
“The Lord”, he continued, “gives us His hand, lifts us up and heals us. And as he has throughout the ages; He takes our hand with His Word, and dispels the fog of ideology and idolatry. ... He cures us of the fever of our passions and our sins with the absolution found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The Pope then turned his attention to an image above the church’s altar of the Church, which depicts Saint Anne explaining the Sacred Scriptures to the Virgin Mary, her daughter.
On this, he explained that "Women are also the first doors to the Word of God in the Gospel, they are authentic evangelists." He used the opportunity to give thanks to all the women "who always help us to know the Word of God, not only through their intelligence, but also through their hearts."
The Pope then turned back to the Gospel narrative, in which Jesus, sleeping in the house of Peter's, woke early to go and pray in the desert. Benedict said that, "this Gospel teaches us that the center of our faith and the center of our lives is found in God. When God is not present, man is not respected.”
“Only when the splendor of God is reflected on the face of the human being, the image of God, is man protected by a dignity that nobody should violate," he continued.
Pointing out the Italian the Day of the Family, celebrated Sunday, the Holy Father said that "the human being is not the manager of life, rather he is the custodian and caretaker."
He added that "two mentalities," exist in the world, both of which “are opposed in an irreconcilable way...one maintains that the human life is in the hands of man and the other recognizes that it is in the hands of God."
The Pope pointed out that "the full respect of life is united to a religious sentiment, to the interior attitude with which man considers the reality surrounding him, either as a master or custodian thereof.”
“The word ‘respect’”, he pointed out, “comes from the Latin verb respicere, and indicates a way of looking at things and people that brings us to recognize the fact of their coexistence, not possessing them but caring for them.”
Pope Benedict concluded by saying that "if creatures are denied reference to God, as a transcendent foundation, they run the risk of being placed at the arbitrary mercy of human beings, who, as we can see, can treat them irresponsibly."