At the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the “new law” of love which Jesus offered during the Sermon on the Mount. He called on all people to follow Christ on the path to a more fraternal and supportive society.
From the window of his studio, the pontiff prayed the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Among them were hundreds of representatives of the Community of Sant'Egidio.
The “new law” of Jesus is recounted in Sunday's Gospel reading from Matthew. In it, said Pope Benedict, Jesus declares the “definitive revelation of the law” which he brought at his coming.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill,” says Jesus in the Gospel account. To the disciples, he adds, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“But,” asked the Pope, “in what does this 'fullness' of the Law of Christ and this 'superior' justice that he demands consist?”
Jesus explains this in a series of phrases that repropose the ancient commandments with his new teaching.
He says: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors: You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with brother will be liable to judgment.”
Pope Benedict commented that Jesus’ manner of speaking made a “great impression” among the people because he claimed the same authority as God, the source of the law.
“The newness of Jesus consists, essentially, in the fact that he himself ‘fulfills’ the commandments with the love of God, with the strength of the Holy Spirit that lives in him,” said Pope Benedict.
“And we, through faith in Christ, can open ourselves to the action of the Holy Spirit, which makes us able to live the divine love.”
Every instruction thus becomes a “demand of love” and all people are joined together in a single commandment: to love God with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves.
“Love is the fulfillment of the law,” the Pope added, quoting the words of St. Paul from the book of Romans.
In this light, the death of four ethnic Roma children in the outskirts of Rome last week “makes us to ask ourselves if a more supportive and fraternal society, more coherent in love, that is more Christian, may not have been able to avoid this tragic fact.”
On Feb. 6, the four burned to death when the shack they were living in caught fire. The Community of Sant'Egidio, the Diocese of Rome and Caritas have all shown their support in recent days for more complete measures of social integration to provide for the wellbeing of the Roma and other migrant peoples who often live in very poor conditions.
This question of responding to a rule of love, said the Pope, is valid for “so many other painful events, more or less noted, that happen daily in our cities and our countries.”
Jesus, he said, “descended from Heaven to bring us Heaven, to the height of God, on the path of love. He himself is this path: we must not do anything but follow him, to put the will of God in practice and enter into his Kingdom, in eternal life.”
He asked for the faithful to place their lives - as the Virgin Mary did - under the complete guidance of God’s law of love.