Jesus' Suffering as Summit of Man's Union With God, Says Preacher

Bishop Corti's Meditations on 3rd Full Day of Retreat

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Jesus' passion and death are the summit of man's union with God, says the preacher of the Spiritual Exercises being attended by John Paul II.



On the third full day of the weeklong retreat, Bishop Renato Corti of Novara dedicated the first meditation to reflect on the meaning of what Christians call the "New Covenant."

Moving on from the Old Testament -- in particular Moses, who on Sinai was the witness of the covenant offered by God and, because of this, offered a sacrifice -- to the New Testament, the preacher reminded his audience today that in this case the sacrifice was offered by Jesus Christ. His audience included officials of the Roman Curia.

"He it is whom, in his Passion and Death, lived the experience of the body given up and the blood poured out. In this way, the unity between God and humanity attained its highest fulfillment," said Bishop Corti.

"When we celebrate the Eucharist, the passion and death of Christ, at that moment we celebrate the grace that comes to every man through Jesus Christ: the grace of being able to relive this communion of life with God," he later said on Vatican Radio.

In the light of this reality, in the second meditation the preacher reflected on the meaning of Jesus as the "Good Shepherd" -- "he gives up his Body and pours out his Blood" -- and what this implies for the pastors of the Church.

"What are the features of a priest, or of a bishop, who wishes to be like Christ, the Good Shepherd?" the prelate asked.

"In reality, only with caution can we say that, as priests, as bishops, we are pastors, as, in reality, already in the Book of Ezekiel and later in chapter 21 of the Gospel of John, it is stated that there is only one pastor," he said.

At the Sea of Tiberias, when Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" he makes it understood "that he [Christ] is the only pastor and that Peter can be so in the measure that he recognizes that he is one with Jesus," Bishop Corti explained.

"If salvation comes from God, those who are ministers of salvation are nothing on their own," the bishop said during the meditation this afternoon.

"It is a very important truth, as it encourages interiority in the ministers of the Word and of God's salvation with words and attitudes which make constant reference to the one who is the only hope and salvation for man," he added. "We priests and bishops are happy because of God, and not for any other reason.

"At the same time, from this perspective, we understand that the way we should look upon others should be the way that God looks upon humanity. The promise of salvation is for all men. And, therefore, there must be an openness of heart for all, keeping in mind that God's blessing is on all."

The Spiritual Exercises will close on Saturday morning. The Pope has suspended all his audiences during the retreat.