In his message to the world’s faithful for Lent of 2007, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that God’s act of suffering and death on the Cross was not only an act of love directed at mankind, but an invitation for men and women to emulate His love towards one another.
The text, dated on November 21st, 2006, and titled, “They shall look on Him whom they have pierced,” was released by the Holy See today.
In the brief text, the Pontiff recalled that Lent is a perfect time to, “learn to stay with Mary and John, the beloved disciple, close to Him Who on the Cross, consummated for all mankind the sacrifice of His life.”
“With a more fervent participation let us direct our gaze, therefore, in this time of penance and prayer, at Christ crucified Who, dying on Calvary, revealed fully for us the love of God.”
Calling to mind his first encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” the Holy Father spoke of the fact that God’s love for mankind is both “agape” and “eros.”
"Dear brothers and sisters,” the Pope said, “let us look at Christ pierced in the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God's love, a love in which 'eros' and 'agape,' far from being opposed, enlighten each other.”
“On the Cross, it is God Himself Who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us.”
“In all truth,” Benedict continued, “only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the greatest of sacrifices…The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. Accepting His love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and dedicate ourselves to communicating it to others.”
“Christ 'draws me to Himself' in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His own love,” the Pontiff reminded.
"'They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.' Let us look with trust at the pierced side of Jesus from which flow 'blood and water!'”
Pope Benedict recalled that the blood and water flowing from the side of Christ are reminders of Baptism and the Eucharist. In Baptism, he said, “we are exhorted to come out of ourselves in order to open ourselves, in trustful abandonment, to the merciful embrace of the Father.” And the Eucharist, “draws us into Jesus' act of self-oblation ... we enter into the very dynamic of His self-giving.”
“Let us live Lent then, as a 'Eucharistic' time in which, welcoming the love of Jesus, we learn to spread it around us with every word and deed. Contemplating 'Him whom they have pierced' will move us in this way to open our hearts to others, recognizing the wounds inflicted upon the dignity of the human person.”
Read the Pope's entire message here: