In today's Gospel reading from Saint Luke, Christ proclaims the beatitudes and invites each of us to open ourselves to the Word. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address on the beatitudes today before praying the Angelus with the pilgrims in Saint Peter's Square. What follows, is the a translation of the Pope's address:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The liturgical year is a great journey of faith, which the Church undertakes, always proceeded by the Virgin Mother Mary. In the Sundays of Ordinary Time this year the readings from the Gospel of Luke trace out this itinerary. Today's reading from this Gospel accompanies us "in a level stretch of land" (Luke 6:17), where Jesus pauses with the 12 and where a crowd of the other disciples and people from every part gather to listen to him. It is in this context that the proclamation of the "beatitudes" takes place (Luke 6:20-26; cf. Matthew 5:1-12). Jesus, looking upon his disciples, says: "Blessed are you poor... Blessed are you who hunger now... Blessed are you who weep now... Blessed shall you be when men hate you ... and reject your name" for my sake. Why does he call them blessed? Why will the justice of God see to it that they will be satisfied, joyous, compensated for every false accusation, in a word, why will it welcome them into his kingdom? The beatitudes are based on the existence of a divine justice, which raises up those who have been wrongly humiliated and casts down those who have been exalted (cf. Luke 14:11). In fact, the evangelist Luke, after the four blessings adds four admonishments: "Woe to you rich... Woe to you who are filled... Woe to you who laugh now..." and "Woe to you when all men speak well of you...," because, as Jesus states, things will be reversed, the last will be first, and the first last (cf. 13:30).
This justice and this beatitude are realized in the "Kingdom of Heaven," or the "Kingdom of God," which will be fulfilled at the end of time but is already present in history. Where the poor are consoled and admitted to the banquet of life, there God's justice is manifested. This is the task that the Lord's disciples are called to undertake even now in the present society. I think of the hostel of "Caritas" of Rome at the Termini Station that I visited this morning: From my heart I encourage those who work in such worthy institutions and those, in every part of the world, who freely engage in similar works of justice and love.
Justice is the theme that I have chosen for this year's Message for Lent, which will begin on Wednesday -- the day that we call Ash Wednesday. Today I would like to offer it to everyone, inviting all to read it and meditate on it. The Gospel of Christ responds positively to the thirst for justice in man, but in an unexpected and surprising way. Jesus does not propose a revolution of a social or political type, but one of love, which he has already realized with his cross and his resurrection. On these are founded the beatitudes, which propose a new horizon of justice, initiated by Easter, by which we can become just and build a better world.
Dear friends, let us turn to the Virgin Mary. All generations proclaim her "blessed," because she believed in the good news that the Lord announced (cf. Luke 1:45, 48). Let us allow ourselves to be led by her through the journey of Lent, to be liberated from the illusion of self-sufficiency, recognize that we need God, his mercy, and in this way enter into his Kingdom of justice, of love and of peace.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana