In his Angelus address today, Pope Benedict called on the faithful to heed Christ’s warning not to become attached to the world’s riches. He emphasized his point by giving several examples of faithful people who have put their treasure in heaven.
Addressing a large group of cheering faithful on Sunday in Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence, the Pope stressed that “material riches, although a good, are not an absolute good”. He added: “Above all, they are no assurance of salvation, but can in fact seriously compromise it”.
After departing in recent weeks from the usual custom of addressing themes in Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Benedict XVI returned to the tradition today, and referred to Jesus’ words on the risk of storing treasure on earth. “It is wise and virtuous not to allow one’s heart to become attached to the goods of this world,” he said, “because everything passes, everything can come to end”.
“The real treasure for which we Christians must tirelessly seek,” the Pope continued, “lies in the things from above, there where Christ can be found at the right hand of the Father.” And he reminded the crowd that Saint Paul in his letter to the Colossians speaks of this when he says that “our life is hidden with Christ in God”.
Pope Benedict recalled that today marks the celebration of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, the first basilica dedicated to Our Lady in 432 by Pope Sixtus III, and looked to her as an example of one who seeks true treasure.
The Virgin Mary, the Pope said, participated in the mystery of Christ more than other creature on earth and therefore sustains us in a walk of faith because, working with our strength, she does not let us “be dominated by greed or selfishness,” but always helps us “look for that which is good in the eyes of God”.
The Holy Father also drew attention to the 29th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI, who died at Castel Gandolfo on August 6th 1978, the Feast of the Transfiguration. The late Pontiff “completed his earthly mission” at the summer residence, he said, and “was called into the heavenly house of the Father.” The Pope added: “His memory invites us to raise our eyes to Heaven and to faithfully serve the Lord and the Church, as he did in the difficult years of the last century”.
After reciting the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI focused on yet another person who has passed on to their eternal reward, the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist, who died earlier this week. “I warmly remember this noble Pastor who loved his Church and gave a great and positive contribution to relations between Catholics and Orthodox, constantly encouraging the work of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Church,” he said.
He also recalled the “clear testimony” of his ecumenical commitment when he made two visits to Pope John Paul II, and the welcome which he returned to the late Pontiff when John Paul visited Romania in 1999. Quoting from the Orthodox funeral rite, he said: “’May his memory be eternal'”, and concluded: “Let us pray to God that he welcome our brother into the kingdom of light, granting him the rest and peace that is promised to the faithful servants of the Gospel”.