"Furthermore, We declare, We proclaim, We define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff."- Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pope says even scholars must be humble enough to worship baby Jesus

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said he knows it is tempting for a university student or professor to resist being humble enough to approach the baby Jesus with awe.

But the Christmas manger is precisely where "each one of us can discover the truth about God and about the human person, about ourselves," the Pope told Rome university students and professors Dec. 17 as he celebrated evening prayer with them in St. Peter's Basilica.

Humanity encounters God "in that Baby, born of the Virgin," the Pope said. "The human yearning for eternal life softened the Heart of God, Who was not ashamed to take on the human condition."

But, he said, too many people -- in Jesus' time as well as today -- are ashamed to adopt the humility needed to recognize and accept God's love.

Pope Benedict's homily focused on the "O Antiphon" for the day's celebration of evening prayer: "O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge."

He told the students and professors that "the Christian paradox consists precisely in identifying divine wisdom -- the eternal word -- with the man Jesus of Nazareth and his story."

Whether studying math or science or art history or literature, a truly Christian scholar conducts all of his or her research trying to catch the glimpses of divine wisdom present in everything, the Pope said.

"I cannot avoid making a reflection that might be a bit uncomfortable, but useful for those of us who are here and mostly belong to an academic environment," said the Pope, who was a university professor.

"On Christmas night, who was at the grotto in Bethlehem?" the Pope asked. "Who ran to see Him, recognized Him and adored Him? Not the doctors of the law, the scribes or the wise. Mary and Joseph were there, and the shepherds."

The fact that God chose to reveal the Saviour to the meek and humble does not mean there is anything wrong with studying, the Pope said. It simply means that even while pursuing knowledge, Christians must maintain the attitude of "the little ones: a humble and simple spirit."

At the end of the service, a delegation of Australian university students passed over to a delegation of African university students and icon of Mary, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom. The icon will travel to different universities in Africa before being taken to Madrid, Spain, for World Youth Day 2011.

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