Meditation at Pope's Retreat: Jesus Calls Sinful Disciples
VATICAN CITY, Mar. 7, 2006 (www.Zenit.org).- On the second day of the papal spiritual exercises, the retreatants were reminded that Jesus calls poor and sinful disciples to follow him.
Cardinal Marco Cé, the retired patriarch of Venice who is preaching in Benedict XVI's presence in an Apostolic Palace chapel this week, delivered two meditations this morning that were focused on Christ's calling of the Twelve Apostles, according to Vatican Radio.
According to the preacher, Christ's calling to his disciples is one of the symbolic images of the life of faith, as it shows characteristic elements of the call to every Christian to follow Our Lord: "radical conversion," "detachment," and the fact that, above all, it is an "initiative of Jesus."
Referring to the calling of the apostles, Cardinal Cé described the setting: Galilee, land of poor people.
Humility, as opposed to the wisdom men boast about, is a constant in Christ's life, said the preacher.
Christ's chosen ones are fishermen, people who see how the simplicity of their ordinary lives is disconcerted by three terms: "repent," "believe" and "good news."
"The most radical meaning of the conversion to which Lent invites us is the following of Christ," the cardinal said.
Giving one’s life
According to Cardinal Cé, "To be converted is not above all a moral change of life: It is a reorientation of the latter to the person of the Lord Jesus; it is a radical opening of life to Christ, to give one's life to him."
Cardinal Cé noted that it was Jesus who approached Peter and his future fellow travelers; this overturned the custom of the time, since the rabbis of the period did not normally go to find their followers.
This style shows the "totally new" announcement of the Kingdom of God that Christ is about to proclaim, and the "totally new" character of the lordship of Jesus over his disciples, Cardinal Cé explained. Christ does not oppress but liberates his disciples, soliciting a complete response to his invitation to follow him.
The setting of the morning's second meditation was the fishermen's village of Capernaum, in the Apostle Peter's home, where Jesus healed the paralytic who was lowered through the ceiling by four people carrying the pallet, impressing Jesus himself with their faith.
The solidarity of these four people with the paralytic, the patriarch explained, is an image of the vocation of persons who have consecrated their lives to God in the Church.
"Sometimes we think that our role in the Church is very different from the one we dreamed of when we were ordained priests," he said to his audience, which included cardinals, bishops, priests and religious who work in the Roman Curia.
"It might be that age and sickness remove us from active pastoral involvement," the cardinal said. "It is then that we must think of the communion that unites us all in the Church and makes us necessary stretcher-bearers for the salvation of brothers.
"Then our work makes sense, even if it is hidden or gives us little satisfaction; then exhaustion and even the difficulties of the situations that must be faced; then, I now believe, sickness and old age with its greater frailty, with the consequent diminution of strength -- make sense."
"At the same time," he added, "in these situations, spaces of interior freedom are also opened, when weakness becomes strength for those who work in the difficult areas of the proclamation of the Gospel."