VATICAN CITY, MAR 4, 2007 (VIS) - The Transfiguration of Jesus as recounted by St. Luke in today's Gospel provided the theme for the Pope's remarks before praying the Angelus at midday today with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Benedict XVI pointed out how the Evangelist says that "Jesus went up the mountain to pray with the Apostles Peter, James and John and, 'while He was praying,' there befell the dazzling mystery of the Transfiguration." The Holy Father also recalled that in the Gospel narrative Moses and Elijah appeared, talking to Christ "of His departure 'which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.'
"Therefore," the Pope added, "Jesus listens to the Law and the Prophets who speak to Him of His death and resurrection. In His intimate dialogue with the Father, He does not depart from history, He does not avoid the mission for which He came into the world, though He knows that in order to reach glory He will have to pass through the Cross. On the contrary, Christ enters more deeply into this mission, adhering with all of Himself to the will of the Father; and He shows us that true prayer consists in uniting our will to the will of God.
"For Christians," Pope Benedict went on, "prayer does not mean evading reality and the responsibilities reality brings, rather it means a complete assumption of those responsibilities, trusting in the faithful and infinite love of the Lord. For this reason, the confirmation of the Transfiguration is, paradoxically, the Garden of Gethsemane" when, "on the eve of His Passion, Jesus experienced mortal anguish and entrusted Himself to divine will.
"At that moment, His prayer was a pledge for the salvation of us all. In fact, Jesus pleaded with the heavenly Father to 'save Him from death' and, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes, 'He was heard because of His reverent submission.' The proof of this is the Resurrection."
Prayer, then, "is not an accessory, an optional extra, but a question of life or death. Only those who pray, in other words those who entrust themselves to God with filial love, can enter into eternal life, which is God Himself."
After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father thanked everyone who had accompanied him "with prayer" during the week of spiritual exercises. "In this time of Lent," he said, "I encourage everyone to seek silence and contemplation, and to leave space for prayer and meditation upon the Word of God."
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