A translation of the address benedict XVI delivered
before reciting the midday angelus with several thousand people
gathered in st. Peter's square. (zenit.org)
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
This Sunday's Gospel has one of the most typical,
yet most difficult, teachings of Jesus: Love your enemies (Luke
It is taken from the Gospel of Luke, but it is
also found in Matthew's Gospel (5:44), in the context of the programmatic
discourse that begins with the famous Beatitudes. Jesus delivered
this address in Galilee, at the beginning of his public ministry:
It was something of a "manifesto" presented to everyone,
which Christ asked his disciples to accept, thus proposing to them
in radical terms a model for their lives.
But what is the meaning of his teaching? Why does
Jesus ask us to love our very enemies, that is, ask a love that
exceeds human capacities? What is certain is that Christ's proposal
is realistic, because it takes into account that in the world there
is too much violence, too much injustice, and that this situation
cannot be overcome without positing more love, more kindness. This
"more" comes from God: It is his mercy that has become
flesh in Jesus and that alone can redress the balance of the world
from evil to good, beginning from that small and decisive "world"
which is man's heart.
This page of the Gospel is rightly considered the
"magna carta" of Christian nonviolence; it does not consist
in surrendering to evil — as claims a false interpretation of "turn
the other cheek" (Luke 6:29) — but in responding to evil with
good (Romans 12:17–21), and thus breaking the chain of injustice.
It is thus understood that nonviolence, for Christians, is not mere
tactical behavior but a person's way of being, the attitude of one
who is convinced of God's love and power, who is not afraid to confront
evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Loving the enemy
is the nucleus of the "Christian revolution," a revolution
not based on strategies of economic, political or media power. The
revolution of love, a love that does not base itself definitively
in human resources, but in the gift of God, that is obtained only
and unreservedly in his merciful goodness. Herein lies the novelty
of the Gospel, which changes the world without making noise. Herein
lies the heroism of the "little ones," who believe in
the love of God and spread it even at the cost of life.
Dear brothers and sisters: Lent, which begins this
Wednesday, with the rite of the distribution of ashes, is the favorable
time in which all Christians are invited to convert ever more deeply
to the love of Christ.
Let us ask the Virgin Mary, the docile disciple of the Redeemer,
to help us to allow ourselves to be conquered without reservations
by that love, to learn to love as he loved us, to be merciful as
our heavenly Father is merciful (Luke 6:36).