"A new form of existence driven by love and destined to eternity" is possible through imitation of Christ, said Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday.
Before the traditional noon Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square on Feb. 20, the Pope spoke of the day's Mass readings. He said the readings "speak ... of the will of God to make men participants in his life."
The words, "Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy," from the Book of Leviticus were an invitation to the chosen people to be faithful to the covenant with the Lord, the Pope said. They also "founded social legislation on the commandment 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself'."
"If we listen, then, to Jesus ... we find that same call, that same audacious objective. The Lord says, in fact, 'be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect'."
"But who could become perfect?" asked the Pope. "Our perfection is living as children of God fulfilling concretely his will."
Man corresponds to God's paternity by praising and glorifying him through good conduct, he explained.
"In what way can we imitate Jesus?" the Pope asked.
He offered the answer in the continuation of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount found in the Gospel of Matthew. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father," says Jesus.
Pope Benedict explained that "he who accepts the Lord into his life and loves him with all his heart is capable of a new start. He is able to fulfill the will of God, realizing a new form of existence driven by love and destined to eternity."
The Pope then quoted Paul, who asks the Corinthians in his first letter to them, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
"If we are truly aware of this reality and our life is profoundly molded to it," said the Pope, "then our testimony becomes clear, eloquent and effective."
Man's entire being is combined with the love of God and "the splendor of his soul" is reflected in all of his life and eternity, he added.
Love, said the Pope, quoting from the book "Imitation of Christ," is a "grand thing," a good that makes all heavy things light, gives man tranquility in difficult moments and allows him to rise above earthly matters. And, "rest," he said, "is born of God and only in God can it be found."
The Pope then looked forward to Feb. 22, the Church feast of the Chair of St. Peter. To Peter, he said, "Christ entrusted the task of teacher and shepherd for the spiritual guidance of the people of God, so that they might raise themselves up to heaven."
He concluded with an exhortation to "all shepherds to assimilate that 'new style of life' which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and taken up by the Apostles."
And, he prayed that Mary, the Mother of God and the Church, might "teach us to love each other and accept each other as brothers, children of the heavenly Father."