Pope Benedict XVI told the 4,000 people gathered for the recitation of the Angelus prayer in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo they must be inspired by Sunday’s Gospel and learn from the Blessed Virgin Mary to witness to their Christian faith.
The Word of God, Pope Benedict said, challenges Christians with two crucial questions: Who is Jesus of Nazareth? And is the Christian faith reflected in all that a Christian does or not?
“Jesus did not come to teach a philosophy, but to show the way, indeed, the path that leads to life,” the Holy Father commented.
“This path is love, which is the expression of true faith. If you love your neighbor with a pure and generous heart, it means you really know God. But if you say you have faith but do not love your brother, then you are not a true believer. God does not dwell in you.”
The Holy Father recalled St. James’ words in the second reading of Sunday Mass: “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
St. John Chrysostom commented on this very passage, writing: “One can also have a true faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, but if one does not have a good life, this faith will not serve his salvation. So when one reads in the Gospel: 'This is life eternal, that they know thee the only true God,' do not think that this verse is enough to save us: a pure life and behavior are necessary.”
The pontiff noted that on Tuesday Christians celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
"The Virgin Mary,” he concluded, “who believed the Word of God, did not lose faith in God when she saw her son rejected, insulted and crucified. Rather she remained close to Jesus, suffering and praying, until the end, and she saw the radiant dawn of his resurrection.”
After the Angelus, Pope Benedict addressed English-speaking visitors:
“Throughout history, it has been the task of Peter’s successors to continue to make that proclamation of faith in Jesus Christ. And all of us are called to join Peter as we resolve to place the Lord at the center of our lives. I pray that all of you may grow in your faith and love for the Lord and I invoke his blessings upon you and upon your loved ones at home.”