Pope Benedict challenges believers to put God before worldly cares

By David Kerr

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Pope Benedict XVI (Credit: Mazur)

God's promise of a new and eternal life deserves priority over earthly desires for things that can never satisfy the heart, Pope Benedict XVI taught in his Aug. 5 Sunday Angelus address at Castel Gandolfo.

“Jesus wants to help people move beyond the immediate satisfaction of their material needs, although they are important too. He wants to open a horizon of existence which is not simply that of the daily concerns of eating, dressing and career,” the Pope told pilgrims at his summer residence.

The true “center of existence,” giving “full meaning and firm hope” to life, “is faith in Jesus … our encounter with Christ,” the Pope reflected.

Thousands of enthusiastic visitors listened from the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace as the Pope discussed Sunday's reading from the “Bread of Life” discourse in the Gospel of John.

In it, Christ tells the multitude not to labor for the “food that perishes” but “for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” Jesus proclaims himself as “the bread of life,” declaring: “Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Pope Benedict stressed that this encounter with Christ goes far beyond “an idea” or “a project,” to reach Jesus “as a living person” who wants everyone “to be fully involved with him and his Gospel.”

In the midst of everyday concerns, Christ calls humanity to “look ahead and to open the human horizon to the horizon of God, the horizon of faith.”

During their journey of faith, believers are sustained by something infinitely greater than the miraculous manna given to the Israelites in the Old Testament. Jesus, the Pope said, does not merely “give something,” but instead “gives himself” to the faithful in Holy Communion.

“Let us put our faith in him, and let us put our trust in his promises, so that we may have life in abundance,” the Pope urged the crowd, before leading them in reciting the traditional midday Marian prayer.

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