God always respects human freedom and never compels anybody into a relationship with him. That was the message of Pope Benedict XVI in his midday Angelus address July 10.
“God does not force us to believe in Him, but draws us to Himself through the truth and goodness of his incarnate Son. Love, in fact, always respects freedom,” Pope Benedict said from the balcony of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles southeast of Rome.
The Pope based his conclusion upon the story told by Jesus in today’s Gospel reading: the parable of the sower who plants seed with different degrees of success.
He said that for Jesus the parable was “autobiographical” because “it reflects the experience of Jesus himself and of his preaching” as “different effects are achieved depending on the kind of reception given to the proclamation.”
Pope Benedict then attempted to answer the question subsequently raised by the apostles: why does Jesus speak in parables?
The Pope said that Jesus makes a distinction between the general crowd and the apostles.
“To those who have already decided for him, he can speak openly of the Kingdom of God” while to others he must speak in metaphor “to stimulate precisely the decision, the conversion of heart” needed. Jesus' parables “require effort to interpret, challenging one’s intelligence but also one’s freedom.”
“After all,” said the Pope, “the real ‘Parable’ of God is Jesus himself, his person, under the form of his humanity, hiding and yet revealing the same deity.” In this way “God does not force us to believe in Him, but draws us to himself through the truth and goodness of his incarnate Son.”
The Pope then reminded the pilgrims gathered in the papal courtyard at Castel Gandolfo that tomorrow is the Feast of St. Benedict, Patron of Europe, from whom we can learn “to give God his rightful place, first place.”
After the Angelus address and prayer, Pope Benedict turned his comments to those who earn their living on the seas, since July 10 is designated “Sea Sunday” by the Catholic Church. In particular, the Pope assured his prayers “for seafarers who unfortunately find themselves seized by pirates.” Estimates say there are currently around 800 such individuals being held hostage on the high seas.
“I hope they are treated with respect and humanity, and pray for their families so that they are strong in faith and do not lose hope that they will soon meet their loved ones.”