"Dear friends, do not hesitate to follow Jesus Christ," he exhorted. "In him we find the truth about God and about mankind. He helps us to overcome our selfishness, to rise above our ambitions and to conquer all that oppresses us. The one who does evil, who sins, becomes a slave of sin and will never attain freedom."
The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar's persecution of three young believers in God, recounted in the Book of Daniel, showed that they experienced the strength to glorify and praise God "in the conviction that the Lord of the universe and of history would not abandon them to death and annihilation."
"Truly, God never abandons his children, he never forgets them. He is above us and is able to save us by his power. At the same time, he is near to his people, and through his son Jesus Christ he has wished to make his dwelling place among us in," the Pope said.
Jesus' own revelation of himself as the son of God the Father and the Savior provokes "resistance and disquiet." Though he accuses his hearers of seeking to kill him, he exhorts them to believe in order to know "the truth which redeems and dignifies."
Pope Benedict criticized both the skepticism and relativism of Pontius Pilate and the "irrationality and fanaticism" of those who wrongly interpret the search for truth and become closed up and try to impose truth on others.
The first attitude changes hearts and makes them "cold, wavering, distant from others." Those who have this attitude, like Pilate, "wash their hands and let the water of history drain away without taking a stand."
As for fanaticism, he noted, "anyone who acts irrationally cannot become a disciple of Jesus."
"Faith and reason are necessary and complementary in the pursuit of truth," he declared, saying that the Christian faith promotes "not irrationality but rather the yearning for truth."
Pope Benedict closed his homily by invoking the blessing of the Virgin Mary.
"Let us walk in the light of Christ who alone can destroy the darkness of error," he said. "And let us beg him that, with the courage and strength of the saints, we may be able, without fear or rancor but freely, generously and consistently, to respond to God."