Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Sunday Mass for the 15,000 people squeezed into Brescia, Italy’s Paul VI Square. The Holy Father recalled the Gospel of the widow’s contribution and underlined the necessity of the Church’s role in the Salvation of humanity.
Benedict XVI began by reflecting upon the day’s Gospel of the widow’s contribution, highlighting the location in which the scene took place, the Temple of Jerusalem and religious center of the people of Israel. "Jesus demonstrates his affection for the Temple as a house of prayers, but also his desire to reveal its most profound significance, tied to the Mystery of His death and resurrection, in which He himself becomes the new and definitive Temple, the meeting place of God and man, Creator and His creature."
As he did to the disciples of that time, the Holy Father added, Jesus tells Christians today to note the gesture of the very poor widow who gives two small coins to the treasury of the Temple: "This, in fact, explains the fundamental characteristic of the ‘living stones’ of this new Temple, that is the complete gift of self to the Lord and to one’s neighbor."
"The Church," he continued, "is a concrete, spiritual organism that prolongs in space and time the oblation of the Son of God, a sacrifice apparently insignificant in respect to the dimensions of the world and history, but decisive to the eyes of God…The Church, which is constantly given life by the Eucharist, by the self gift of Jesus, is the continuation of the sacrifice of Jesus, of the overabundance that reveals itself in the poverty."
Rendering homage to the Servant of God Paul VI, 30 years after his death, the Pontiff said that the Church’s encounter and dialogue with humanity today were particularly important to the late Pontiff, from the first years of his priesthood to his Pontificate. Pope Benedict explained, "Encountering the Church, contemporary man can encounter Him, Christ, because man has absolute need of Christ."
Benedict XVI concluded by praying that divine beauty be present in every community and that the Church be a luminous sign of hope for the humanity of the third millennium: "May this grace be obtained for us by Mary, whom Paul VI proclaimed, at the end of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Mother of the Church."