Pope presents Christ's poverty as cure for world's greed

Benedict XVI said the poverty of Christ offers the cure for a world ravaged by materialism and greed.

Catholic News Service reports that on Palm Sunday, which also coincided with a World Youth Day ceremony, the pope said that Christ's message of poverty, reconciliation and love challenges the prevailing desire for "a life without restrictions and without sacrifice."

The pope celebrated the two-and-a-half-hour mass on in St Peter's Square, processing through the crowd and blessing palm fronds and olive branches held up by the faithful.

In his sermon, the pope focused on a detail of the Gospel account, noting that Jesus rode into the holy city on a donkey - a sign that he was and would continue to be "a king of the poor."

The pope said the poverty of the Gospel must be understood not only as a material condition, but as a spiritual state of humility. One who is materially poor but yearns for wealth and power already "in his heart belongs to the rich," he said.

"Poverty in the sense of Jesus ... presumes above all an inner freedom from the greed of possessing and the thirst for power," he said.

"This inner freedom is what is needed to overcome the corruption and greed that today are devastating the world." It requires a practice of daily personal sacrifices, and not merely a redistribution of the world's wealth, he said.

In his sermon about the significance of the World Youth Day's Cross, which began on Sunday its cross-continental journey to Sydney, the pope said Christ's cross also carries a strong message of peace. It is "the new weapon" that Christ left the world, one that offers love instead of enmity, he said.

Every time Christians make the sign of the cross, they should remind themselves "not to oppose injustice with another injustice, or violence with another act of violence," he said.

The pope spoke about the universality of Christ's message, saying it finds a home "in all cultures and in all parts of the world," from the poorest village huts to the most majestic cathedrals.

The pope said the cross is not always a welcome symbol in modern society, because it demands sacrifice. He said this attitude of resistance maintains, "We want to live, only to live. We don't want to be limited by rules and prohibitions; we want richness and fullness of life.

"All that sounds convincing and seductive; it is the language of the serpent, who tells us: 'Don't be afraid! Go ahead and eat from all the trees in the garden!'" he said.

Photo credit: Stefano Spaziani

Pope says Christ's poverty offers cure for world ravaged by greed (Catholic News Service 10/4/06)

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12 Apr 2006