Pope Benedict XVI- Angelus
On the New Adam's Obedience
"The World Improves Beginning With Ourselves"
H.H. Benedict XVI
February 21, 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Last Wednesday, with the penitential rite of the ashes, we began
Lent, a time of spiritual renewal in preparation for the annual
celebration of Easter. But what does it mean to enter into the
The Gospel of this First Sunday of Lent illustrates it, with the
account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. The evangelist St. Luke
tells us that Jesus, after having received baptism from John, “full
of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Holy Spirit
into the desert for 40 days and was tempted by the devil” (Luke
4:1-2). It is evident that there is an insistence on the fact that
the temptations were no accident but the consequence of Jesus’
choice to carry out the mission entrusted to him by the Father, to
embrace completely his reality as beloved Son, who hands himself
over entirely to the Father. Christ came into the world to free us
from sin and the dangerous fascination of planning our lives without
God. He did it not with high-sounding proclamations, but by
personally struggling against the Tempter, right to the cross. This
is an example for all: The world improves beginning with ourselves,
changing what is not right in our lives with the grace of God.
Of the three temptations that Satan proposes to Jesus, the first has
to do with hunger, that is, material need: “If you are the Son of
God, command this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answers with
sacred Scripture: “One does not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:3-4;
cf. Deuteronomy 8:3).
Then the devil shows all the kingdoms of the earth to Jesus and
says: All this will be yours, if you will fall down and worship me.
It is the deception of power, and Jesus unmasks this temptation and
rejects it: “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone
shall you serve” (Luke 4:5-8; Deuteronomy 6:13). Power is not to be
worshiped but God alone, truth and love.
Finally, the Tempter proposes that Jesus perform a spectacular
miracle: He should throw himself from the high walls of the Temple
and make the angels save him so that everyone would believe in him.
But Jesus answers that God must never be put to the test (cf.
Deuteronomy 6:16). We must never try an experiment in which God is
supposed to respond and show himself to be God: we must believe in
him! We must not make God “material” for our “experiment”! Referring
again to sacred Scripture, Jesus opposes to human criterion the only
authentic criterion: obedience, conformity with God’s will, which is
the foundation of our being. This too is a basic teaching for us: If
we carry the Word of God in our heart and in our mind, if it enters
into our lives, if we have confidence in God, we can reject any sort
of deception of the Tempter. Moreover, from the whole story there
clearly emerges the image of Christ as the new Adam, Son of God,
humble and obedient to the Father, unlike Adam and Eve, who in the
Garden of Eden gave in to the seductions of the spirit of evil to
become immortal without God.
Lent is a long “retreat,” during which we return to ourselves and
listen to God’s voice to overcome the temptations of the Evil One
and find the truth of our being. It is a time, we could say, of
spiritual “contest” to live together with Jesus, not with pride and
presumption, but using the weapons of faith, that is, prayer,
listening to God’s Word and penance. In this way we will be able to
celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our
baptism. May the Virgin Mary help us so that, guided by the Holy
Spirit, we live this time of grace with joy and fruit. May she
especially intercede for me and my co-workers in the Roman Curia
since this evening we will begin our retreat.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several
languages. In English, he said:]
I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present
for this Angelus prayer, especially the boys and girls of the London
Oratory Junior Choir. In today’s Gospel the Church invites us to
contemplate Christ’s victory over temptation and to imitate his
complete obedience to the Father’s will. May the Lenten season which
we have now begun draw us closer to the Lord in prayer and prepare
us to celebrate worthily his victory over sin and death at Easter.
Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings!
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