As he celebrated Mass for 600,000 people at Guanajuato’s Mount Cubilete on March 25, Pope Benedict XVI urged them to discover the true kingship of Christ, who rules the world with love.
“His crowns, one of a sovereign, the other of thorns, indicate that his royal status does not correspond to how it has been or is understood by many,” the Pope told worshipers gathered in the Bicentennial Park, near the monumental statue of Christ the King.
“His kingdom does not stand on the power of his armies subduing others through force or violence. It rests on a higher power that wins over hearts: the love of God that he brought into the world with his sacrifice and the truth to which he bore witness.”
God’s power, he said, “is the power of goodness, the power of love”.
“This is his sovereignty which no one can take from him and which no one should forget,” the Pope stressed, asking that Christ would “reign in our hearts, making them pure, docile, filled with hope and courageous in humility.”
As the faithful prepare for Holy Week, Pope Benedict urged them to attend to the words of Psalm 50: “A pure heart, create for me, O God.”
“This exclamation shows us how profoundly we must prepare to celebrate next week the great mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord,” he said.
“It also helps us to look deeply into the human heart, especially in times of sorrow as well as hope, as are the present times for the people of Mexico and of Latin America.”
A pure heart, the Pope reflected, “is one which recognizes that, of itself, it is impotent and places itself in God’s hands so as to continue hoping in his promises.”
This need for self-examination is evident throughout salvation history, particularly in the Biblical history of Israel. Times of crisis taught God’s people not to trust in their own strength, but in the Lord.
“The history of Israel relates some great events and battles,” the Pope noted, “but when faced with its more authentic existence, its decisive destiny, its salvation, it places its hope not in its own efforts, but in God who can create a new heart, not insensitive or proud.”
This pattern in salvation history “should remind each one of us and our peoples that, when addressing the deeper dimension of personal and community life, human strategies will not suffice to save us.”
God alone, he said, can save humanity. “We must have recourse to the one who alone can give life in its fullness, because he is the essence of life and its author; he has made us sharers in the same (life) through his Son, Jesus Christ.”
As he celebrated his first public Papal Mass in a Spanish-speaking Latin American country, Pope Benedict evoked the memory of his predecessor Blessed John Paul II – who visited Mexico five times, but never made it to Guanajuato, though he “ardently desired to do so.”
“I am sure that in heaven he is happy that the Lord has granted me the grace to be here with you and that he has blessed the millions of Mexicans who have venerated his relics in every corner of the country.”
He also recalled the Latin American bishops’ 2007 Aparecida document, which declared a “Continental Mission” of renewal and evangelization.
This task, Pope Benedict said, would require deep attentiveness to God’s word – allowing it “to challenge us every day, meditating upon it in our hearts after the example of Mary.”
In this way, communities can resist “the temptation of a faith that is superficial and routine, at times fragmentary and incoherent.”
Instead, believers can rediscover “the joy of being Christians, of being sustained by the inner happiness of knowing Christ and belonging to his Church.”
“Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to assist us in purifying our hearts, especially in view of the coming Easter celebrations,” urged Pope Benedict, “that we may enter more deeply the salvific mystery of her son, as she made it known in this land.”
“And let us also ask her to continue accompanying and protecting her Mexican and Latin American children, that Christ may reign in their lives and help them boldly to promote peace, harmony, justice and solidarity. Amen.”