Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bible Study: Pope uses DTKYABS as homiletic resource?

It appears dear Pope Benedict XVI is keeping his pulse on the goings-on of the St. David the King Young Adult Bible Study! Just this past weekend, as reported by the Catholic News Agency and ZENIT, in his address to the crowd gathered for the Angelus at noon, His Holiness identified the differences between the physical healing received by all ten lepers in this Sunday's Gospel (Luke 17:11-19), and the spiritual healing received by the Samaritan leper. He also called sin the "leprosy that really disfigures man and society" (la lebbra che realmente deturpa l'uomo e la società è il peccato). These same connections were drawn last Wednesday evening at St. David the King... coincidence? I think not.

Or, perhaps, we drew from the same well of inspiration as did the Holy Father. St. Athanasius, Titus (Bishop of Bostra), and Pope St. Leo the Great seem to have rubbed off on Pope Benedict XVI just as much as they did on us.

The (original) Italian of the Pope's address (and any other translations as they appear) can be found at the Vatican's web site. Here is my attempt at an English translation, using Babelfish and my knowledge of French as guides.
The Gospel of this Sunday introduces Jesus who heals ten lepers, of which only one -- a Samaritan and thus a foreigner -- returns to give thanks (cf. Lk 17:11-19). To him, the Lord says: "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well." (Lk 17:19). This Gospel reading invites us to a twofold reflection. In the first place we consider two degrees of healing: the superficial one regards the body; the deeper other touches the core (intimo) of the person, what the Bible calls the "heart", and from there, it irradiates to all existence. The complete and radical healing is "salvation". Everyday language, which distinguishes between between "health" and "salvation", helps us to understand that salvation is much more than health: it is in fact a new, full, definitive life. Moreover, here Jesus, like in other circumstances, speaks thus: "your faith has made you well". It is the faith that saves man, re-established him in his profound relationship with God, with himself, and with others; and faith is expressed in gratitude. Whoever, like the healed Samaritan, knows gratitude, demonstrates that he does not consider everything as due to them, but as a gift that, whether it reaches them via man or nature, comes ultimately from God. Faith then involves one's self being open to the grace of the Lord; to recognize that all is gift, all is grace. What a treasure is hidden in one small word: grazie! ("thanks!" or "thank you!")

Jesus healed these ten of their leprosy, an illness then considered a "contagious impurity" that demanded a ritual purification (cf. Lev 14:1-37). In truth, the leprosy that really disfigures man and society is sin; it is pride and selfishness that generate in the human mind indifference, hatred and violence. Of this leprosy of the spirit, that disfigures the face of the humanity, one cannot be healed except by God, Who is Love. Opening the heart to God, the person who is converted receives inner healing from evil.

"Repent and believe in the Gospel" (cf. Mk 1:15). Jesus started his public life with this, and it continues to resonate within the Church, and the Most Blessed Virgin in her apparitions especially of recent years, has always renewed this appeal. Today, we turn our attention in next to Fatima where, just 90 years ago, from 13 May to 13 October 1917, the Virgin appeared to the three shepherds: Lucia, Giacinta and Francisco. Thanks to a television connection, I was spiritually present at that Marian shrine, where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, presided in my name at the closing of the anniversary celebration. I warmly greet him, the other Cardinals and Bishops present, the clergymen who work in the Shrine and the pilgrims who came from every part of the world for the occasion. We ask the Blessed Virgin for the gift of true conversion for all Christians, so as to coherently and faithfully announce and testify to the perennial Gospel message, which reveals to humanity the path of authentic peace.

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