Tell the Truth Boldly, Urges Pontiff
Reflects on Life of St. John the Baptist
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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI, on the solemnity of the birth of St. John the Baptist, called on the Church to bear "witness to the truth without compromise."
The Pope said this today in the address he delivered before praying the Angelus with the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Holy Father urged the faithful to follow the example of the cousin of Christ, and to not be afraid to denounce "transgressions of God's commandments" even when the protagonists are people in power.
"John the Baptist was the precursor, the 'voice' sent to announce the Incarnate Word," the Pontiff said.
"For this reason, to commemorate the birth of John the Baptist in reality means to celebrate Christ, the fulfillment of the promises of all the prophets, of whom John was the greatest, called to 'prepare the way' before the Messiah," the Holy Father added, speaking from the window of his study.
Benedict XVI explained that John the Baptist was "the first 'witness' of Jesus, have received instruction about him from heaven: 'The man on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is he who will baptize in the Holy Spirit.'"
After having known the fullness of the reality of Jesus of Nazareth, John the Baptist made it "known to Israel," indicating him as "Son of God and redeemer of man: 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,'" the Pope said, quoting the Gospel of John.
Recalling the beheading of John the Baptist, the Bishop of Rome added: "As an authentic prophet, John bore witness to the truth without compromise. He denounced transgressions of God's commandments, even when the protagonists were people in power.
"Thus, when he accused Herod and Herodius of adultery, he paid for it with his life, sealing with martyrdom his service to Christ, who is the truth in person."
The Holy Father expressed a desire that "the Church of our time know how to be ever faithful to Christ and testify with courage to his truth and his love for all."