Pope: Water of the Spirit Quenches Man's Thirst
Visits Parish in Rome's Testaccio District
ROME, FEB. 24, 2008 (www.zenit.org) - Only the water of the Holy Spirit is able to quench man's infinite thirst, Benedict XVI said when visiting the Parish of Santa Maria Liberatrice in Rome's Testaccio district.
The Pope's visit today is part of the celebrations markings the 100th anniversary of the church's consecration, which took place Nov. 29, 1908. Other Pontiffs who visited the Roman parish include Paul VI in 1966 and John Paul II in 1979.
In his homily, Benedict XVI reflected on the Gospel of the liturgy, which narrates Christ's meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. He said the passage communicates "a message that is always living and always relevant. God thirsts for our faith and wants us to find in him the source of our authentic faith."
"The risk for every believer is that of practicing and inauthentic religiosity, of looking in God for an answer to the deepest desires of the heart, indeed, of using God as if he were in the service of our wishes and plans."
The Pope added, "There are so many times when we do not docilely conform our will to the divine will but instead want God to accomplish our designs and meet our every expectation; so often our faith shows itself to be fragile, our trust weak, our religiosity contaminated by magical and merely worldly elements.
"If there is a physical thirst for water that is indispensable for living on the earth, there is also in man a spiritual thirst that only God can quench [...] a thirst for the infinite that can only be satisfied by the water that Jesus offers, the living water of the Spirit."
In the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, the Holy Father said there is traced the spiritual itinerary "of each one of us, which every Christian community is called to rediscover and continually follow."
"Jesus wants to lead us like the Samaritan woman," he said, "to profess our faith in him with determination so that we can then proclaim and witness to our brothers the joy of meeting him and the marvels that his love accomplishes in our existence."
"Faith is born from the encounter with Jesus, recognized and received as the definitive Revealer and Savior. Once the Lord has conquered the Samaritan woman's heart, her existence is transformed and she runs without hesitation to communicate the good news to her people."
This Sunday's liturgy, the Pontiff said, moves us then "to reconsider our relationship with Jesus, to tirelessly seek his face."
Benedict XVI then reflected on the social and apostolic activity of the Salesians in the Parish of Santa Maria Liberatrice: "St. Pius X entrusted the parish to the spiritual sons of Don Bosco, and they, under the vigorous leadership of [...] Blessed Don Michele Rua, built the church where we now find ourselves."
"In truth," he continued, "the Salesians had already been conducting their social and apostolic work in Testaccio, an area that has maintained its own specific territorial and cultural identity."
The Pope explained that even though the parish located "in the heart of the Roman metropolis," it conserves "very close relationships between people," and so also "the rootedness of the people in their home, the district's identity and the attachment to religious traditions remain strong."
The Pontiff then praised the parish's "work of evangelization and humane and Christian education," asking the faithful to open "their heart more and more to pastoral missionary action, which moves every Christian to meet people -- especially the youth and families -- there where they live, work, pass their free time, to proclaim God's merciful love."
He also drew attention to the importance of cultivating vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life and spoke of education, "the characteristic charism of every Salesian parish."
Benedict XVI concluded, "May Santa Maria Liberatrice, who is so loved and venerated by you, who, together with her husband Joseph, educated the child and adolescent Jesus, protect the families and religious in their work of formation and give them the joy, as Don Bosco wanted, to see good Christians and honest citizens grow up in this neighborhood."