On the Christian Sense of 'Carpe Diem'

"Every day can become the today of salvation"

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 1978 hits

Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today’s liturgy brings together for us two distinct passages of Luke’s Gospel. The first (1:1-4) is the prologue, addressed to a certain “Theophile”; since this name in Greek means “friend of God” we can see in him every believer who opens himself up to God and desires to know the Gospel.

The second passage (4:14-21), instead, presents Jesus who “with the power of the Spirit” enters the synagogue of Nazareth on the Sabbath. As a devout believer the Lord does not neglect the weekly liturgical rhythm and joins the assembly of the people of his town in prayer and listening to the Scriptures. Rite provides for a text of the Torah or the Prophets, followed by commentary. That day Jesus stood up to read and found a passage from the prophet Isaiah that begins thus: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor” (61:1-2). Origen comments: “It is not by chance that he opened the scroll and found the chapter of the reading that prophesizes about him. This too was the work of God’s providence” (Homilies on the Gospel of Luke, 32, 3). In fact, Jesus, having concluded the reading, breaks an attentive silence saying: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). St. Cyril of Alexandria states that the “today,” placed between the first and last coming of Christ, is linked to the believer’s capacity to listen and reform his life (cf.PG 69, 1241). But in a still more radical sense Jesus himself is the “today” of salvation in history because he brings the fullness of redemption. The term “today,” very dear to St. Luke (cf. 19:9, 23:43), brings us to the preferred Christological title of the same evangelist, namely, “savior” (soter). Already in the infancy narratives, it is presented in the words of the angel to the shepherds: “Today, in the city of David, there is born for you a Savior, Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Dear friends, this passage also addresses us “today.” Above all it makes us think about the way we pass our Sundays, a day of rest and of the family, but first of all a day to dedicate to the Lord, participating in the Eucharist in which we are nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ and by his Word of life. Secondly, in our dispersed and distracted time this Gospel invites us to ask ourselves about our capacity to listen. Before speaking about God and with God we must listen to him, and the Church’s liturgy is the “school” of this listening to the Lord who speaks to us. In the end he tells us that every moment can become a “today” that is propitious for our conversion. Every day (“kathermeran”) can become the today of salvation because salvation is the story that continues for the Church and for each disciple of Christ. This is the Christian sense of “carpe diem” (seize the day): welcome the today in which God calls you to grant you salvation!

May the Virgin Mary always be our model and our guide in knowing how to recognize and welcome, each day of our life, God’s presence, our Savior and that Savior of all humanity.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today is the “Day of Memory” in remembrance of the Holocaust of the victims of Nazism. The memory of this horrendous tragedy that so profoundly struck the Jewish people above all, should represent for all a constant exhortation so that the horrors of the past not be repeated, every form of hatred and racism be overcome and respect for the dignity of the human person be promoted.

Today is also celebrated the 60th World Day of those suffering from leprosy. I express my nearness to the persons afflicted with this evil and I encourage researchers, health care workers and volunteers, especially those who are part of Catholic organizations and of the Association of the Friends of Raoul Follereau. I invoke for everyone the spiritual support of St. Damien de Veuster and St. Marianne Cope, who gave their lives for those suffering from leprosy.

On this 3rd Sunday there is also a special day of prayer for peace in the Holy Land. I thank those who promote it in many parts of the world and I greet in particular those who are present here.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel Jesus fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy in his own person, as he proclaims new sight to the blind and freedom to captives. In this Year of Faith, especially through the Sacraments, may we deepen our confidence in Christ and embrace his grace which sets us free. May God bless you and your loved ones!

[Again in Italian he said:]

In a special way I greet the children and young people of Catholic Action of Rome. Welcome! Two of you, with the diocesan leaders, are here with me – see! Dear young people, your “Caravan of Peace” is a beautiful witness! May it be a sign also of your daily commitment to build peace where you live. Let us now listen to your brief message.

[Reading of the message]

Thank you! And now we release the doves, symbol of the Spirit of God, who grants peace to those who welcome his love. Let us try to release these doves!

Well, it was a success! Have a good Sunday everyone, a good week too. Thank you!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]