Pope Benedict opens Synod of Bishops

 Yesterday in St Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI presided over a solemn concelebration of the Eucharist with Synod Fathers from all over the world for the opening of the 11th general assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: "Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the Church." The readings for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary time presented the image of the vine: "wine and with it the vine have become images of the gift of love in which we can have some experience of the taste of the Divine" the Pope explained in his reflection on the readings focussed on three thoughts. The first thought was that "creating mankind in his image God infused in him the capacity to love, and to love his Creator. With the canticle of love of the prophet of Isaiah God speaks to the heart of his people - and to each of us present...God waits for us. He wishes to be loved by us: can such a call fail to touch our heart?... Will it be answered? Or will it happen with us, as with vine in Isaiah which, God says: 'he expected would bear grapes, but the grapes produced were wild? Is not our Christian life very often more vinegar than wine? Self pity, conflict, indifference?" After describing the goodness of God and the depth of his love and searching for mankind, the readings also present mankind's failure. Isaiah says: "God planted choicest vines and yet they bore wild grapes", violence, bloodshed and oppression. "In the Gospel the image changes - the Pope said - the vine produces good grapes but the tenants want to keep the harvest for themselves they claim to be the proprietors, taking possession of something which does not belong to them". These tenants are a mirror for men and women of today to whom creation is entrusted: "We want to be the masters of it, personally and alone. We want to possess the world and our own lives without limits. God gets in the way. He is either reduced to a devout phrase or completely dismissed, banished from public affairs, so that he loses all significance But when man takes over as master of the world and proprietor of himself justice cannot exist. There! can only be overruling abuse of power and interests". The third element highlighted by the Holy Father was God's judgement with regard to his vine and ourselves today. "The threat of judgement regards us too, the Church in Europe, Europe and the West in general - the Pope said -. With this Gospel the Lord cries in our ears the words which he addressed to the Church in Ephesus in the Book of Revelation: "If you do not mend your ways I will come and take your candelabra from its place " (2,5). We too may have the light taken away and we would do well to let this warning resound with all its seriousness in our soul ". A word of comfort comes from the verse of the Alleluia taken from John's Gospel: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in me and I in him bears much fruit " (Jn 15,5). "With these words of the Lord, John illustrates the ultimate and true ending to the story of God's vineyard. God never fails. In the end he wins, love wins". The death of his Son is not the end of the story, from it "life is born, a new building is formed, a new vine grows." "In the Upper room he brought forward his death transforming it into a gift of self, an act of total love. His blood is a gift of love and therefore the true wine desired by the Creator. In this way Christ becomes the vine and this vine always bears good fruit: the presence of his love for us which is everlasting. So these parables refer to the mystery of the Eucharist in which the Lord offers us the bread of life and the wine of his love and invites us to the feast of eternal love In the Eucharist from the cross he draws all men and women to himself (Jn 12,32) and makes us branches of the vine that is himself. If we remain in him we too will bear fruit, we will produce not the vinegar of self-sufficiency, of malcontent with God and his creation, but the good wine of joy in God and love for neighbour." Source: Fides

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