1. The Christian, wins or loses?Each first-person suffer suspicion, a continuous and diverse suspicion about what we offer. We suspectbefore each election. Also when we are offered to choose Jesus of Nazareth. Does it compensate to be aChristian? Is right the world or the gospel? Both propose happiness and liberation, but their proposalsare opposite: which of the two fools? But a prior question is what losing really means and how to win:success is profit or loss? What pleasure or wealth?Yes, the question is whether the Christian loses or gains, if necessary to get rid of God to be free, if weneed to do evil so fun because you can only get bored if he wins and loses that gives you interesting andcaptures ... risky issues to which each must decide on youth.
1.1 The strong gains a friendWhen I was Archbishop of Munich and Freising, in a meditation on Pentecost, I was inspired by a film entitled Seelenwanderung(Metempsychosis) to explain the Holy Spirits action in a soul. The film tells of two poor fiends who, because of their goodness, do not manageto make any headway in life. One day one of them had an idea: since he had nothing else to put on sale he would sell his soul. His soul ispurchased cheap and enclosed in a box. From that time on, to his great surprise, everything changes in his life. He begins a rapid ascent,becomes richer, obtains great honours and by the time of his death is a consul very well endowed with money and possessions. From themoment when he freed himself of his soul he no longer had any concern or humanity. He had acted unscrupulously, caring only for profit andsuccess. Man no longer mattered in the least. He himself no longer had a soul. The film, I concluded, shows impressively how the facade ofsuccess often conceals an empty life. 1.1.aApparently, the man had lost nothing, but he lacked a soul and with it lacked everything. It is obvious, I continued in that meditation, that thehuman being cannot literally dispose of his own soul since it is his soul that makes him a person. He remained, in fact, a human person, yet hehad the frightful possibility of being inhuman, of remaining a person while at the same time selling and losing his own humanity. There is animmense gap between the human person and the inhuman being, yet it cannot be demonstrated; it is the truly essential thing, yet it isapparently unimportant (cf. Suchen, was droben ist. Meditationem das Jahr hindurch, LEV, 1985). 1.1.bThe Holy Spirit, who was at the beginning of creation and who, thanks to the Paschal Mystery, was poured out in abundance upon Mary andthe Apostles on Pentecost Day, also cannot be proven to external eyes. Whether or not he penetrates a person, he cannot be seen orrevealed; but this fact changes and renews the entire perspective of human existence. The Holy Spirit does not change the external but ratherthe internal situations of life. On the evening of Easter Day, Jesus appeared to the disciples, "breathed on them, and said to them: "Receive theHoly Spirit" (Jn 20: 22). 1.1.c2.1 It loses oneselfThe heart of the matter he expresses elsewhere in these words: “For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for mysake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Lk 9:24f.). Whoever wants to keephis life just for himself will lose it. Only by giving ourselves do we receive our life. In other words: only the one who loves discovers life. Andlove always demands going out of oneself, it always demands leaving oneself. Anyone who looks just to himself, who wants the other only forhimself, will lose both himself and the other. Without this profound losing of oneself, there is no life. The restless craving for life, sowidespread among people today, leads to the barrenness of a lost life. “Whoever loses his life for my sake … ”, says the Lord: a radical letting-go of our self is only possible if in the process we end up, not by falling into the void, but into the hands of Love eternal. Only the love of God,who loses himself for us and gives himself to us, makes it possible for us also to become free, to let go, and so truly to find life. This is the heartof what the Lord wants to say to us in the seemingly hard words of this Sunday’s Gospel. With his teaching he gives us the certainty that wecan build on his love, the love of the incarnate God. Recognition of this is the wisdom of which today’s reading speaks to us. Once again, wefind that all the world’s learning profits us nothing unless we learn to live, unless we discover what truly matters in life. Viena, Sunday September 9, 2007 2.1.a3.1 But we suspect lose freedomThe human being does not trust God. Tempted by the serpent, he harbours the suspicion that in the end, God takes something away from hislife, that God is a rival who curtails our freedom and that we will be fully human only when we have cast him aside; in brief, that only in thisway can we fully achieve our freedom. The human being lives in the suspicion that Gods love creates a dependence and that he must ridhimself of this dependency if he is to be fully himself. Man does not want to receive his existence and the fullness of his life from God. Hehimself wants to obtain from the tree of knowledge the power to shape the world, to make himself a god, raising himself to Gods level, and toovercome death and darkness with his own efforts. He does not want to rely on love that to him seems untrustworthy; he relies solely on hisown knowledge since it confers power upon him. Rather than on love, he sets his sights on power, with which he desires to take his own lifeautonomously in hand. And in doing so, he trusts in deceit rather than in truth and thereby sinks with his life into emptiness, into death. Loveis not dependence but a gift that makes us live. The freedom of a human being is the freedom of a limited being, and therefore is itself limited.We can possess it only as a shared freedom, in the communion of freedom: only if we live in the right way, with one another and for oneanother, can freedom develop. We live in the right way if we live in accordance with the truth of our being, and that is, in accordance withGods will. For Gods will is not a law for the human being imposed from the outside and that constrains him, but the intrinsic measure of hisnature, a measure that is engraved within him and makes him the image of God, hence, a free creature.If we live in opposition to love and against the truth - in opposition to God - then we destroy one another and destroy the world. Then we donot find life but act in the interests of death. All this is recounted with immortal images in the history of the original fall of man and theexpulsion of man from the earthly Paradise. Dear brothers and sisters, if we sincerely reflect about ourselves and our history, we have to saythat with this narrative is described not only the history of the beginning but the history of all times, and that we all carry within us a drop ofthe poison of that way of thinking, illustrated by the images in the Book of Genesis. We call this drop of poison "original sin". Thursday, December 8, 2005 3.1.a 2
Precisely on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we have a lurking suspicion that a person who does not sin must really be basicallyboring and that something is missing from his life: the dramatic dimension of being autonomous; that the freedom to say no, to descend intothe shadows of sin and to want to do things on ones own is part of being truly human; that only then can we make the most of all the vastnessand depth of our being men and women, of being truly ourselves; that we should put this freedom to the test, even in opposition to God, inorder to become, in reality, fully ourselves.In a word, we think that evil is basically good, we think that we need it, at least a little, in order to experience the fullness of being. We thinkthat Mephistopheles - the tempter - is right when he says he is the power "that always wants evil and always does good" (J.W. von Goethe,Faust I, 3). We think that a little bargaining with evil, keeping for oneself a little freedom against God, is basically a good thing, perhaps evennecessary.If we look, however, at the world that surrounds us we can see that this is not so; in other words, that evil is always poisonous, does not uplifthuman beings but degrades and humiliates them. It does not make them any the greater, purer or wealthier, but harms and belittles them.This is something we should indeed learn on the day of the Immaculate Conception: the person who abandons himself totally in Gods handsdoes not become Gods puppet, a boring "yes man"; he does not lose his freedom. Only the person who entrusts himself totally to God findstrue freedom, the great, creative immensity of the freedom of good.The person who turns to God does not become smaller but greater, for through God and with God he becomes great, he becomes divine, hebecomes truly himself. The person who puts himself in Gods hands does not distance himself from others, withdrawing into his privatesalvation; on the contrary, it is only then that his heart truly awakens and he becomes a sensitive, hence, benevolent and open person. Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Thursday, 8 December 2005 3.1.bThe closer a person is to God, the closer he is to people. We see this in Mary. The fact that she is totally with God is the reason why she is soclose to human beings.For this reason she can be the Mother of every consolation and every help, a Mother whom anyone can dare to address in any kind of need inweakness and in sin, for she has understanding for everything and is for everyone the open power of creative goodness.In her, God has impressed his own image, the image of the One who follows the lost sheep even up into the mountains and among the briarsand thornbushes of the sins of this world, letting himself be spiked by the crown of thorns of these sins in order to take the sheep on hisshoulders and bring it home.As a merciful Mother, Mary is the anticipated figure and everlasting portrait of the Son. Thus, we see that the image of the Sorrowful Virgin, ofthe Mother who shares her suffering and her love, is also a true image of the Immaculate Conception. Her heart was enlarged by being andfeeling together with God. In her, Gods goodness came very close to us.Mary thus stands before us as a sign of comfort, encouragement and hope. She turns to us, saying: "Have the courage to dare with God! Tryit! Do not be afraid of him! Have the courage to risk with faith! Have the courage to risk with goodness! Have the courage to risk with a pureheart! Commit yourselves to God, then you will see that it is precisely by doing so that your life will become broad and light, not boring butfilled with infinite surprises, for Gods infinite goodness is never depleted!". Thursday, December 8, 2005 3.1.c4.1…. and lost grandeurNietzsche scoffed at humility and obedience as the virtues of slaves, a source of repression. He replaced them with pride and man’s absolutefreedom. Of course there exist caricatures of a misguided humility and a mistaken submissiveness, which we do not want to imitate. But therealso exists a destructive pride and a presumption which tear every community apart and result in violence. Can we learn from Christ thecorrect humility which corresponds to the truth of our being, and the obedience which submits to truth, to the will of God? “Sanctify them inthe truth; your word is truth”: this word of inclusion in the priesthood lights up our lives and calls us to become ever anew disciples of thattruth which is revealed in the word of God.We can advance another step in the interpretation of these words. Did not Christ say of himself: “I am the truth” (cf. Jn 14:6)? Is he not himselfthe living Word of God, to which every other word refers? Sanctify them in the truth – this means, then, in the deepest sense: make them onewith me, Christ. Bind them to me. Draw them into me. Saint Peters Basilica Holy Thursday, 9 April 2009 4.1.a"Magnificat": my soul "magnifies" the Lord, that is, "proclaims the greatness" of the Lord. Mary wanted God to be great in the world, great inher life and present among us all. She was not afraid that God might be a "rival" in our life, that with his greatness he might encroach on ourfreedom, our vital space. She knew that if God is great, we too are great. Our life is not oppressed but raised and expanded: it is precisely thenthat it becomes great in the splendour of God.The fact that our first parents thought the contrary was the core of original sin. They feared that if God were too great, he would takesomething away from their life. They thought that they could set God aside to make room for themselves.This was also the great temptation of the modern age, of the past three or four centuries. More and more people have thought and said: "Butthis God does not give us our freedom; with all his commandments, he restricts the space in our lives. So God has to disappear; we want to beautonomous and independent. Without this God we ourselves would be gods and do as we pleased". 3
This was also the view of the Prodigal Son, who did not realize that he was "free" precisely because he was in his fathers house. He left fordistant lands and squandered his estate. In the end, he realized that precisely because he had gone so far away from his father, instead ofbeing free he had become a slave; he understood that only by returning home to his fathers house would he be truly free, in the full beauty oflife.This is how it is in our modern epoch. Previously, it was thought and believed that by setting God aside and being autonomous, following onlyour own ideas and inclinations, we would truly be free to do whatever we liked without anyone being able to give us orders. But when Goddisappears, men and women do not become greater; indeed, they lose the divine dignity, their faces lose Gods splendour. In the end, theyturn out to be merely products of a blind evolution and, as such, can be used and abused. This is precisely what the experience of our epochhas confirmed for us.Only if God is great is humankind also great. With Mary, we must begin to understand that this is so. We must not drift away from God butmake God present; we must ensure that he is great in our lives. Thus, we too will become divine; all the splendour of the divine dignity willthen be ours. Let us apply this to our own lives.It is important that God be great among us, in public and in private life. Castelgandolfo Monday August 15, 2005 4.1.bIn public life, it is important that God be present, for example, through the cross on public buildings, and that he be present in our communitylife, for only if God is present do we have an orientation, a common direction; otherwise, disputes become impossible to settle, for ourcommon dignity is no longer recognized.Let us make God great in public and in private life. This means making room for God in our lives every day, starting in the morning withprayers, and then dedicating time to God, giving Sundays to God. We do not waste our free time if we offer it to God. If God enters into ourtime, all time becomes greater, roomier, richer. Castelgandolfo Monday August 15, 2005 4.1.cJesus warns us against the canker of vanity that leads to ostentation and hypocrisy, to superficiality and self-satisfaction, and reasserts theneed to foster uprightness of heart. At the same time he shows us the means to grow in this purity of intention: by cultivating intimacy withthe heavenly Father. Saint Sabina´s Basilica, Ash Wednesday, Febreaury 25, 2009 4.1.d5.1. Earn wisdomAs opposed to what occurred with the tower of Babel (cf. Gn 11: 1-9), when people wanted to build a way to heaven with their hands andended up by destroying their very capacity of mutual understanding, in Pentecost the Spirit, with the gift of tongues, demonstrates that hispresence unites and transforms confusion into communion.Human pride and egoism always create divisions, build walls of indifference, hate and violence. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, makeshearts capable of understanding the languages of all, as he re-establishes the bridge of authentic communion between earth and heaven. TheHoly Spirit is Love. St. Peters Square Sunday, 4 June 2006 5.1.a6.1 Gains made to transform the worldThis is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host.And let us pray the Lord to help us become priests in this sense, to aid in the transformation of the world, in adoration of God, beginning withourselves. That our lives may speak of God, that our lives may be a true liturgy, an announcement of God, a door through which the distantGod may become the present God, and a true giving of ourselves to God. Cathedral of Aosta, Friday, 24 July 2009 6.1.a7.1 Who wins the battle, the weak woman or the dragon?At the time when St John wrote the Book of Revelation, this dragon represented for him the power of the anti-Christian Roman Emperors,from Nero to Domitian. This power seemed boundless; the military, political and propagandist power of the Roman Empire was such thatbefore it, faith, the Church, appeared as a defenceless woman with no chance of survival and even less of victory.Who could stand up to this omnipresent force that seemed capable of achieving everything? Yet, we know that in the end it was thedefenceless woman who won and not egoism or hatred; the love of God triumphed and the Roman Empire was opened to the Christian faith.The words of Sacred Scripture always transcend the period in history. Thus, not only does this dragon suggest the anti-Christian power of thepersecutors of the Church of that time, but also anti-Christian dictatorships of all periods.We see this power, the force of the red dragon, brought into existence once again in the great dictatorships of the last century: the Nazidictatorship and the dictatorship of Stalin monopolized all the power, penetrated every corner, the very last corner. It seemed impossible inthe long term that faith could survive in the face of this dragon that was so powerful, that could not wait to devour God become a Child, aswell as the woman, the Church. But also in this case, in the end love was stronger than hate. 4
Today too, the dragon exists in new and different ways. It exists in the form of materialistic ideologies that tell us it is absurd to think of God; itis absurd to observe Gods commandments: they are a leftover from a time past. Life is only worth living for its own sake. Take everything wecan get in this brief moment of life. Consumerism, selfishness and entertainment alone are worthwhile. This is life. This is how we must live.And once again, it seems absurd, impossible, to oppose this dominant mindset with all its media and propagandist power. Today too, it seemsimpossible to imagine a God who created man and made himself a Child and who was to be the true ruler of the world. Wednesday, August 15, 2007 7.1.aEven now, this dragon appears invincible, but it is still true today that God is stronger than the dragon, that it is love which conquers ratherthan selfishness.Having thus considered the various historical forms of the dragon, let us now look at the other image: the woman clothed with the sun, withthe moon under her feet, surrounded by 12 stars. This is also a multidimensional image.Without any doubt, a first meaning is that it is Our Lady, Mary, clothed with the sun, that is, with God, totally; Mary who lives totally in God,surrounded and penetrated by Gods light. Surrounded by the 12 stars, that is, by the 12 tribes of Israel, by the whole People of God, by thewhole Communion of Saints; and at her feet, the moon, the image of death and mortality.Mary has left death behind her; she is totally clothed in life, she is taken up body and soul into Gods glory and thus, placed in glory afterovercoming death, she says to us: Take heart, it is love that wins in the end!The message of my life was: I am the handmaid of God, my life has been a gift of myself to God and my neighbour. And this life of service nowarrives in real life. May you too have trust and have the courage to live like this, countering all the threats of the dragon. Castel Gandolfo Miércoles 15 de agosto de 2007 7.1.bThis is the first meaning of the woman whom Mary succeeded in being. The "woman clothed with the sun" is the great sign of the victory oflove, of the victory of goodness, of the victory of God; a great sign of consolation.Yet, this woman who suffered, who had to flee, who gave birth with cries of anguish, is also the Church, the pilgrim Church of all times. In allgenerations she has to give birth to Christ anew, to bring him very painfully into the world, with great suffering. Persecuted in all ages, it isalmost as if, pursued by the dragon, she had gone to live in the wilderness. However, in all ages, the Church, the People of God, also lives bythe light of God and as the Gospel says is nourished by God, nourishing herself with the Bread of the Holy Eucharist. Thus, in all the trials in thevarious situations of the Church through the ages in different parts of the world, she wins through suffering. And she is the presence, theguarantee of Gods love against all the ideologies of hatred and selfishness.Let us look to Mary, taken up into Heaven. Let us be encouraged to celebrate the joyful feast with faith: God wins. Faith, which seems weak, isthe true force of the world. Love is stronger than hate. And let us say with Elizabeth: Blessed are you among women. Let us pray to you with allthe Church: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. St Thomas of Villanova Parish, Castel Gandolfo Wednesday, 15 August 2007 7.1.cTogether with the whole of Scripture, she is speaking of "fear of God". Perhaps this is a phrase with which we are not very familiar or do notlike very much. But "fear of God" is not anguish; it is something quite different. As children, we are not anxious about the Father but we havefear of God, the concern not to destroy the love on which our life is based.Fear of God is that sense of responsibility that we are bound to possess, responsibility for the portion of the world that has been entrusted tous in our lives. It is responsibility for the good administration of this portion of the world and of history, and one thus helps the just building ofthe world, contributing to the victory of goodness and peace. Parish Church of St Thomas of Villanova, Castel Gandolfo Tuesday, 15 August 2006 7.1.d 5