.- Before reciting the Angelus prayer from the window of his apartment in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, Pope Benedict XVI spoke today about "radical" responses to divine vocations. Referring to Sunday's readings he took up the theme of Christ's call to us and "its demands."
As the Pope looked out over the crowd gathered to join him for the weekly prayer on Sunday at noon, he saw a smattering of Polish flags waving, especially well represented now that the country's children have just begun their summer vacation and brightly colored parasols were used to shelter many of the pilgrims from the intense Mediterranean sun.
Referring to the day's Gospel reading from Luke in which Jesus asks those on the road to Jerusalem to cut their family ties and follow him, the Holy Father explained that the demands Jesus makes of Christians might seem "too tough."
"But," he went on, "in reality they express the newness and the absolute priority of the Kingdom of God that makes itself present in the very Person of Jesus Christ."
He said that, upon further analysis, "it's about that radicalism that is due to the Love of God, to which Jesus himself is the first to obey.
"He who renounces everything, even himself, to follow Jesus, enters into a new dimension of freedom, which St. Paul defines as 'walking in the Spirit."
Speaking of the experience of the "fortune" of those who know a young person who has left their "family of origin, studies or work to consecrate themselves to God," the Pope said that, effectively, a person who does so is "a living example of the radical response to the divine vocation."
And this, he said, "is one of the most beautiful experiences that takes place within the Church: seeing, touching with the hand the action of the Lord in the life of the people; experiencing that God is not an abstract entity, but a Reality so big and strong so as to overabundantly fill the heart of man, a Person living and near, that loves us and asks to be loved."
As St. Paul wrote to the Galatians, the Pope recalled, Christ has called us to liberty and through it we are called to serve one another. "Liberty and love coincide!" he exclaimed, noting that, "on the contrary, obeying our proper selfishness leads to rivalry and conflict."
In the month of June the Church celebrates devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. With the end of the month quickly approaching, Benedict XVI said, "today, I would like to invite everyone to contemplate the mystery of the human and divine heart of Jesus, to draw from the same source of the Love of God.
"Whoever fixes their gaze on that Heart, pierced and always open to our love, feels the truth of this invocation 'You, Lord, are my only possession,' and is ready to leave everything to follow the Lord."