After celebrating the Mass of ordination for 14 deacons of the diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica this morning, Pope Benedict prayed the Sunday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Before the prayer, he explained that priests are a sign of God’s love for all mankind.
“The Sacrament of Holy Orders manifests, on the part of God, his caring closeness to man, and on the part of him who receives the sacrament, the full availability to change oneself into an instrument of that closeness, with a radical love for Christ and his Church,” said Pope Benedict.
Reflecting on today’s Gospel reading, the Holy Father referred to the affirmation of Peter in which he says that Jesus is the Christ, the chosen one of God. He noted that, with this response, “all earthly opinions that consider Jesus to be one of the prophets are overcome.”
“According to St. Ambrose,” he continued, “with this profession of faith, Peter ‘has embraced the totality of all things, because he has expressed the nature and the name’ of the Messiah. And Jesus, in front of Peter’s profession of faith, renews his invitation to Peter and the other disciples to follow him on the hard path of love which leads to the cross.”
The Holy Father also cited St. Maximus the Confessor, who said, “The distinctive sign of the power of Christ is the cross. To take up the cross means committing oneself to conquer those sins which are obstacles in the journey towards God. It means to welcome God’s will for one’s life on a daily basis, and to increase in faith when faced by life’s problems, difficulties and suffering.”
Pope Benedict concluded his remarks by commending the newly ordained priests to the protection of the Virgin Mary. “May they always be faithful disciples, valiant in the proclamation of the word of God, and administrators of his gifts of salvation.”
Following his remarks, the Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus, greeted the gathered pilgrims in various languages and imparted his apostolic blessing.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, he noted that in today’s Gospel Jesus calls us “to carry our cross in union with him.”
“May we always give ourselves to him and thus discover anew the joy that he promises to those who follow him,” he commented. “Upon you and your loved ones at home, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God.”