-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Longing for God Cannot Be Silenced, Affirms Pope
Says Thirst for Infinite Is Creator's Signature on Man's Soul, Body
By Kathleen Naab
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 21, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that not only our souls, but even our flesh longs to find fulfillment in God, and regardless of any attempt to reject Him, this thirst will not disappear.
The Pope said this in a message sent to the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, sponsored by the lay Catholic Communion and Liberation Movement in Rimini, Italy. The event draws hundreds of thousands of participants each year for conferences and presentations from religious and social leaders, Catholic and non-Catholic.
The Holy Father's message is dated Aug. 10; this year's Rimini meeting -- the 33rd -- is under way through Saturday.
The Pope dedicated his message to a reflection on man's search for the infinite, in line with the theme of the meeting.
He said that to speak of man's yearning for the infinite implies recognizing that his relationship with the Creator is part of what defines and constitutes him as a person.
"Man is a creature of God. Today this word - creature - seems almost passé: we prefer to think of man as a self-fulfilled being and master of his own destiny," the Pontiff reflected.
Speaking of man as a creature seems "uncomfortable," he said, because "it implies an essential reference to something else, or better, to Someone else - whom man cannot control - who enters in order to define his identity in an essential way; a relational identity, whose first element is the original and ontological dependence on He who wanted us and created us."
But this dependence, the Pope continued, even if modern man tries to shirk it, actually "reveals the greatness and supreme dignity of man," rather than hiding or diminishing that greatness.
Every person is created "so that he may enter into dialogue with the Infinite," he said. Adam's and Eve's lives overlapped with their relationship with God, Benedict added, and original sin "has its ultimate root precisely in our first parents avoiding this constitutive relationship."
The Pontiff recalled that even after sin, however, "the aching desire for this dialogue remains in man, like a signature imprinted with fire in his soul and body by the Creator himself."
Citing the psalms, the Pope noted that this longing is not only in the human soul, but "even every fiber of my flesh is made to find its peace, its fulfillment in God. And this tension cannot be erased from man's heart: even when he rejects or denies God, the thirst for the infinite that abides in man does not disappear."
A person trying to satisfy this thirst apart from God is misguided, seeking fulfillment in sterile places, he suggested.
"Even the good things that God has created as paths that lead to Him, often run the risk of being absolutized and thus become idols that replace the Creator," the Pope warned.
"To truly find himself and his identity, to live up to his being, man must turn and recognize that he is a creature, who is dependent on God," he added.
The Holy Father noted that St. Paul does not present the opposite of slavery as freedom, but rather as filiation.
"The Apostle to the Gentiles speaks of a 'bad' slavery: that of sin, of the law, of the passions of the flesh," he pointed out. "To this, however, he does not contrast autonomy, but rather 'slavery to Christ.' [...] The fundamental point, then, is not to eliminate dependence, which is constitutive of man, but to direct it towards the One who alone is able to make us truly free."
Benedict XVI then posed a question: Is a longing for something (the infinite) that cannot be fully satisfied actually a condemnation?
"This question takes us directly to the heart of Christianity," he said. "The Infinite itself, in fact, to make himself a response that man might experience, assumed a finite form. From the Incarnation, from the moment when the Word became flesh, He eliminated the unbridgeable distance between the finite and the infinite: the eternal and infinite God left His heaven and entered into time, He immersed himself in human finitude. Nothing, then, is banal or insignificant along the path of life and of the world. Man is made for an infinite God who became flesh, who assumed our humanity in order to draw us to the heights of his divine being."
In this context, the Pope spoke of life as vocation. "Everything," he said, "every relationship, every joy, as well as every difficulty, finds its ultimate meaning in being an opportunity for a relationship with the Infinite, a voice of God that continually calls to us and invites us to lift our gaze, to find the complete fulfillment of our humanity in belonging to Him."
There is thus no reason to fear God's call, the Pontiff affirmed. "God has our happiness at heart," he assured, "and our complete human fulfillment."
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