Benedict XVI: Sts Peter and Paul and the priesthood

Benedict XVI: Sts Peter and Paul and the priesthood

Pope Benedict XVI

The Lord challenges us [as priests] to move beyond the boundaries of our own world and to bring the Gospel to the world of others, so that it pervades everything and opens up the world for God's kingdom. We are reminded that even God stepped outside himself, setting aside his glory in order to seek us and to bring us his light and his love. We want to follow the God who sets out in this way, we want to move beyond the inertia of self-centredness, so that He Himself can enter our world.

Jesus calls on us to bear fruit, fruit that abides. What fruit does He expect from us? What is this fruit that abides? Now, the fruit of the vine is the grape, and it is from the grape that wine is made.

Wine is an image of love: this is the true fruit that abides, the fruit that God wants from us. But let us not forget that in the Old Testament the wine expected from noble grapes is above all an image of justice, which arises from a life lived in accordance with God's law. And this is not to be dismissed as an Old Testament view that has been surpassed - no, it still remains true.

The true content of the Law, its summa, is love for God and for one's neighbour. But this twofold love is not simply saccharine. It bears within itself the precious cargo of patience, humility and growth in the conforming of our will to God's will, to the will of Jesus Christ, our friend.

Only in this way, as the whole of our being takes on the qualities of truth and righteousness, is love also true, only thus is it ripe fruit. Its inner demand - faithfulness to Christ and to his Church - seeks a fulfillment that always includes suffering. This is the way that true joy grows. At a deep level, the essence of love, the essence of genuine fruit, coincides with the idea of setting out, going towards: it means self-abandonment, self-giving, bearing within itself the sign of the cross.

Christ's yoke is identical with His friendship. It is a yoke of friendship and therefore "a sweet yoke", but as such it is also a demanding yoke, one that forms us. It thus reminds us that we too, as shepherds in his service, are to carry others with us, taking them as it were upon our shoulders and bringing them to Christ. We must be shepherds for unity and in unity, and it is only in the unity represented by Peter that we truly lead people to Christ.

Extracts from Benedict XVI's homily on 29 June 2011 at a Mass for the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul in St Peter's Basilica.

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