The Pope said this Thursday in an improvised homily that he gave during a Mass for the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
"I did not find the time to prepare a real homily," the Holy Father announced at the beginning of his words. "I would just like to invite everyone to personal meditation, proposing and highlighting some lines from today's liturgy that offer themselves to the prayerful dialogue between us and the Word of God."
He went on to reflect about three phrases, proposing meditations about authentic freedom and penance as a grace.
The second phrase led the Pontiff to a reflection on eternal life.
He said: "St. Peter says that God raises up Christ to his right hand as head and Savior. 'Head' is a translation of the Greek term 'archegos,' which implies a much more dynamic vision: 'Archegos' is he who points out the road, who precedes, who is moving, a movement toward what is above. God raised him up to his right hand -- so speaking of Christ as 'archegos' means to say that Christ walks before us, he precedes us, he shows us the road.
"And being in communion with Christ is being on a journey, ascending with Christ, it is the following of Christ, it is this ascent upward, it is this following of the 'archegos,' he who is already gone ahead, who precedes us and shows us the road."
It is important, the Pope affirmed, to "say where Christ goes and where we too must go: 'hypsosen' -- above -- ascent to the right hand of the Father."
So, the Holy Father explained, the following of Christ "is not only the imitation of his virtues, it is not only living like Christ in this world, as far as possible, according to his word; but it is a journey that has a goal. And the goal is the right hand of the Father."
Benedict XVI said that in this sense the "goal of this journey is eternal life at the right hand of the Father in communion with Christ."
He reflected: "Today we often have a little fear of speaking about eternal life. We talk about the things that are useful to this world, we show that Christianity also helps to improve the world, but we do not dare say that its goal is eternal life and that from such a goal come the criteria for life.
"We must once again understand that Christianity remains a 'fragment' if we do not think of this goal, that we want to follow the 'archegos' to the heights of God, to the glory of the Son that makes us sons in the Son and we must again recognize that only in the vast perspective of eternal life does Christianity reveal its whole meaning."
"We must have the courage, the joy, the great hope that there is eternal life," the Pope exhorted, "that it is the true life and that from this true life comes the light that also enlightens this world."
He reflected that if it can be said that it is better to live according to Christian criteria even without eternal life, "because living according to the truth and love, even in persecutions, is good in itself and better than all the rest," still "it is precisely this will to live according to the truth and according to love that must also open to the whole breadth of God's plan for us, to the courage to have already the joy in expectation of eternal life, of ascending, following our 'archegos.'"
"The Savior saves us from solitude, from an emptiness that remains in life without eternity; he saves us giving us life in its fullness," the Pontiff added. "He is the leader. Christ, the 'archegos,' giving us light, giving us truth, giving us God's love."
--- --- ---
On ZENIT's Web page:
Full text: www.zenit.org/article-28961?l=english