Pope Benedict calls on the wealthy to show solidarity for the poor
"God can conquer the heart of a person with many possessions and lead him towards solidarity and sharing with the poor and needy, so that he can enter into the logic of giving", said the Pope commenting on today's Gospel reading which narrates Jesus' meeting with a rich young man.
"Jesus teaches that it is very difficult but not impossible for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God", said the Holy Father in his remarks before praying the Angelus. "Indeed, through the 'the logic of giving', a person may follow the path of Jesus Christ Who, as the Apostle Paul wrote, 'for your sake ... became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich'".
Benedict XVI went on to remind faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square that the young man in question had scrupulously observed all the commandments of God's Law, but "had not found true happiness. For this reason, he asked Jesus 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' On the one hand he was attracted, like everyone else, to the fullness of life; on the other, being used to his wealth, he thought he could somehow 'buy' eternal life, perhaps by observing some special commandment".
Said the pontiff, "Christ was aware of the man's desires but also of his weakness, "his sense of attachment to his great riches". Therefore He suggested giving everything to the poor so that "his treasure - and therefore his heart - should be in heaven and not on earth. Jesus told the man: 'Come, follow me!' However, instead of welcoming Jesus' invitation with joy, he went away sadly because he could not give up his possessions, which could never give him happiness and eternal life".
It was at this point that Jesus pronounced the famous phrase: "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God". However, seeing His disciples' perplexity he added: "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God". Commenting on this parable, St. Clement of Alexandria wrote: "Let it teach the prosperous that they are not to neglect their own salvation, as if they had been already condemned, nor, on the other hand, to cast wealth into the sea, or condemn it as a traitor and an enemy to life, but learn in what way and how to use wealth and obtain life".
"The history of the Church", the Pope concluded, "is full of examples of rich people who have used their wealth evangelically, even attaining sainthood. Suffice to mention St. Francis, St. Elisabeth of Hungary and St. Charles Borromeo".
After praying the Angelus prayer, the Pope mentioned the beatification in the Czech Republic of Frederic Bachstein and thirteen other Franciscans who died for their faith in 1611. "They are the first blesseds of the Year of Faith, and martyrs", he said. "They remind us that believing in Christ also means being ready to suffer with Him and for Him".
The Pope concluded by noting that "today Poland and Polish parishes throughout the world are celebrating the 'Day of the Pope', with the theme: 'John Paul II - the Pope of the Family'. ... It is my hope that all Polish families may burn with the living flame of faith, goodness and evangelical love".
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