.- During his weekly Wednesday audience earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI shared with nearly 23,000 pilgrims, a message of hope: That through emptying himself, taking on human weakness, and making himself like a slave, Christ leads mankind to discover his own freedom. The Holy Father used the St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians as the central theme of his catechesis during this morning’s general audience, held in St. Peter's Square.
He first discussed how, in the first part of what is called, the ‘Christological hymn’ found in the Letter to the Philippians (2, 6-11), we must consider "the paradoxical 'emptying' of the divine Word, Who deposes His glory and takes on the human condition.”
“Christ”, the Pope said, “incarnated and humiliated in the most shameful form of death, that of crucifixion, is proposed as a model of life for Christians," who must, in fact, "'have this mind among (themselves), which was in Jesus Christ,' a mind of humility and of dedication, of detachment and of generosity."
“Although He is equal to God,” Pope Benedict said, imitating St. Paul, Christ “did not use His glorious dignity and power as an instrument of triumph, a sign of remoteness or an expression of supremacy. Quite the contrary, He unreservedly assumed the human condition, miserable, weak, marked by suffering, poverty and fragility, subject to time and space.”
“This took Him to the edge of our own limits”, he said, “and our own inevitable decay, in other words to death; thus obeying the plan of salvation wished for by the Father."
The Holy Father went on to cite Theodoret, a fifth century bishop of Cyrus in Syria who, in his commentary Philippians, mentions the links between the incarnation of Jesus and the redemption of human beings.
He explains that, in order to save us, the Creator "chose a way full of love … and adorned with justice. Indeed, after having bound man's nature to Himself, a nature already defeated, he leads it to the struggle and prepares it to repair the defeat, to overcome the one who had once iniquitously gained victory, to free it from the tyranny of one who had cruelly enslaved it, and to recover its long lost freedom."
At the conclusion of the audience Pope Benedict noted that next Friday is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He told the crowd, "let us ask Him to help us love our brethren as He loved us."