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Solemnity of Christ the King 2009

Papa Benedetto's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Saint Peter's Square, Sunday 22nd November 2009 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King, a Feast established relatively recently but which has deep biblical and theological roots. The title "King", designating Jesus, is very important in the Gospels and makes possible a complete interpretation of the figure of Jesus and of his mission of salvation. In this regard a progression can be noted: it starts with the expression "King of Israel" and extends to that of universal King, Lord of the cosmos and of history, thus exceeding by far the expectations of the Jewish people. It is yet again the mystery of Jesus Christ's death and Resurrection that lies at the heart of this process of the revelation of his kingship. When Jesus is hung on the Cross, the priests, scribes and elders mock him saying: "He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him" (Mt 27: 42). In fact, it is precisely as the Son of God that Jesus freely gives himself up to his Passion. The Cross is the paradoxical sign of his kingship, which consists in the loving will of God the Father in response to the disobedience of sin. It is in the very offering of himself in the sacrifice of expiation that Jesus becomes King of the universe, as he himself was to declare when he appeared to the Apostles after the Resurrection: "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Mt 28: 18).

But in what does this "power" of Jesus Christ the King consist? It is not the power of the kings or the great people of this world; it is the divine power to give eternal life, to liberate from evil, to defeat the dominion of death. It is the power of Love that can draw good from evil, that can melt a hardened heart, bring peace amid the harshest conflict and kindle hope in the thickest darkness. This Kingdom of Grace is never imposed and always respects our freedom. Christ came "to bear witness to the truth" (Jn 18: 37), as he declared to Pilate: whoever accepts his witness serves beneath his "banner", according to the image dear to St Ignatius of Loyola. Every conscience, therefore, must make a choice. Who do I want to follow? God or the Evil One? The truth or falsehood? Choosing Christ does not guarantee success according to the world's criteria but assures the peace and joy that he alone can give us. This is demonstrated, in every epoch, by the experience of numerous men and women who, in Christ's name, in the name of truth and justice, were able to oppose the enticements of earthly powers with their different masks, to the point that they sealed their fidelity with martyrdom.

Dear brothers and sisters, when the Angel Gabriel brought the announcement to Mary, he predicted that her Son would inherit the throne of David and reign forever (cf. Lk 1: 32-33). And even before she gave him to the world, the Blessed Virgin believed. Thus she must certainly have wondered what new kind of kingship Jesus' would be; she came to understand by listening to his words, and especially by closely participating in the mystery of his death on the Cross and in his Resurrection. Let us ask Mary to help us too to follow Jesus, our King, as she did, and to bear witness to him with our entire existence."

After the Angelus:

"The celebration for the beatification of Sr Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas is taking place today in Nazareth. She was born in 1843, in Jerusalem, into a Christian family of 19 children. Very early on she discovered her vocation to religious life, of which she became impassioned despite the initial problems raised by her family. She has the merit of founding a female Congregation consisting only of local women whose aim was to teach religion, to put an end to illiteracy and to improve the conditions of women of that time, in the land in which Jesus himself exalted their dignity. The core of this new Blessed's spirituality was her intense devotion to the Virgin Mary, a luminous model of life consecrated to God without reserve. The Holy Rosary was her continuous prayer, her anchor of salvation and the source of her grace. The beatification of such a significant female figure is of special comfort to the Catholic community in the Holy Land and is an invitation to entrust oneself always, with firm hope, to Divine Providence and to Mary's motherly protection.

Yesterday, the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple, was the Day pro orantibus for Cloistered Religious communities. I willingly take this opportunity to address my cordial greeting to them, renewing to all the invitation to support them in their needs. I am also glad, on this occasion, to thank publicly the nuns who have taken turns at the small Monastery in the Vatican: the Poor Clares, the Carmelites, the Benedictines and now, the Visitandines. Your prayers, dear Sisters, are very precious for my ministry.

Oggi, a Nazaret si svolge la cerimonia di beatificazione di Suor Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, nata a Gerusalemme nel 1843 in una famiglia cristiana, che comprendeva ben diciannove figli. Scoprì ben presto la vocazione alla vita religiosa, a cui si appassionò, nonostante le iniziali difficoltà poste dalla famiglia. A lei va il merito di fondare una Congregazione formata solo da donne del posto, con lo scopo dell’insegnamento religioso, per vincere l’analfabetismo ed elevare le condizioni della donna di quel tempo nella terra dove Gesù stesso ne esaltò la dignità. Punto centrale della spiritualità di questa nuova Beata è l’intensa devozione alla Vergine Maria, modello luminoso di vita interamente consacrata a Dio: il Santo Rosario era la sua preghiera continua, la sua ancora di salvezza, la sua fonte di grazie. La beatificazione di questa così significativa figura di donna è di particolare conforto per la Comunità cattolica in Terra Santa ed è un invito ad affidarsi sempre, con ferma speranza, alla Divina Provvidenza e alla materna protezione di Maria.

Ieri, nella memoria della Presentazione della Beata Vergine Maria al Tempio, ricorreva la Giornata pro orantibus, in favore delle comunità religiose di clausura. Colgo volentieri l’occasione per rivolgere ad esse il mio cordiale saluto, rinnovando a tutti l’invito a sostenerle nelle loro necessità. Sono lieto anche, in questa circostanza, di ringraziare pubblicamente le monache che si sono avvicendate nel piccolo Monastero in Vaticano: Clarisse, Carmelitane, Benedettine e, da poco, Visitandine. La vostra preghiera, care sorelle, è molto preziosa per il mio ministero.

Chers pèlerins de langue française soyez les bienvenus. En ce jour où nous célébrons le Christ Roi de l’univers, l’Evangile nous invite à contempler le Crucifié et à nous laisser humblement sauver par Lui. Ainsi nous aurons accès à son Royaume de lumière. C’est dans l’abaissement du Christ en croix que nous pouvons découvrir la toute puissance divine. Confions-nous à la Vierge Marie, notre Mère et notre Reine, afin qu’elle nous conduise jusqu’au Royaume de justice et de paix de son Fils Jésus ! Bonne semaine à tous !

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus on the Solemnity of Christ the King.  His Kingdom is not built upon the power of this world but comes to us when we accept the presence of God in our hearts and live in his light.  Let us strive to follow closely in the footsteps of Christ the Servant King and bear constant witness to his merciful love and his saving truth!  God’s blessings upon you all!

Von Herzen grüße ich alle deutschsprachigen Gäste hier auf dem Petersplatz. Mit dem heutigen Christkönigssonntag findet das liturgische Kirchenjahr seinen Abschluß. Christus ist in die Welt gekommen, um mit der Hingabe seines Lebens für die Wahrheit der Liebe Gottes Zeugnis abzulegen. Hören wir auf seine Stimme und bitten wir um das Kommen seines Reiches der Heiligkeit und der Gnade, der Gerechtigkeit, der Liebe und des Friedens (Präfation). Christus, der Herrscher über Himmel und Erde, schenke uns sein Erbarmen und sein Heil.

Saludo con afecto a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los fieles de las parroquias de Santo Tomás Apóstol y Santo Domingo Savio, de Valencia. Con la Festividad de Jesucristo, Rey del Universo, concluimos el Año Litúrgico, ensalzando una vez más el señorío de Cristo. Él es “el Alfa y Omega, el que es, el que era y el que viene, el Todopoderoso”, como escuchamos este domingo en la lectura del libro del Apocalipsis. Os invito a que, a imitación de la Virgen María, “la esclava del Señor”, sirváis continuamente a Dios y a los hermanos y, junto con toda la Creación, glorifiquéis con vuestras vidas al Rey del Universo. Muchas gracias y feliz domingo.

Drodzy Polacy, Bracia i Siostry! Uroczystość Chrystusa Króla przypomina, że celem dążeń człowieka nie jest doczesne królestwo przemocy, pieniądza czy przyjemności, lecz Boże Królestwo: „prawdy i życia, świętości i łaski, sprawiedliwości, miłości i pokoju”. Niech nasze życie będzie świadectwem realizacji tego ewangelicznego orędzia. Chrystus Król niech nam błogosławi!

Rivolgo infine un cordiale saluto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare ai fedeli venuti da Berchiddeddu – diocesi di Ozieri – e dalle parrocchie romane dell’Ascensione e dei Santi Antonio e Annibale Maria di Francia. Saluto inoltre i partecipanti all’incontro promosso dal Movimento Cristiano Lavoratori sulla realtà dei lavoratori immigrati. A tutti auguro una buona domenica."