VATICAN CITY, 15 JUN 2008 (VIS) - At 9.15 a.m. today, in the residence of the archbishop of Brindisi-Ostuni, the Pope met with local Benedictine and Carmelite cloistered nuns. At 10 a.m. he travelled by car to the Sant'Apollinare quay of the port of Brindisi where he celebrated a Mass which was attended by some 70,000 people.
"The biblical texts we have just heard", said the Holy Father in his homily, "help us to understand the truth of the Church. ... The first reading ... narrates God's covenant with Moses and Israel in Sinai". It expresses "God's perennial plan ... to save all mankind through the sanctification of a people". The Gospel reading, the Pope went on, explains the call and mission of the twelve Apostles, who after the Pentecost proclaimed the Good News by "speaking in tongues". At that moment, "the Universal Church was made manifest, reunited in a single Body of which the Risen Christ is Head and, at the same time, sent out by Him to all nations, even unto the ends of the earth".
"The twelve Apostles co-operated with Jesus in establishing he Kingdom of God, in other words His beneficent lordship which brings life and life in abundance for all humanity. In essence, the Church, like Christ and with Him, is called to establish the kingdom of life and to drive out the dominion of death ... so that God Who is love may triumph.
"This", the Pope added, "is God's plan: to bestow His life-generating love upon humanity and the entire universe. A plan, nonetheless, that the Lord wishes to implement only while respecting our own freedom, because love by its nature cannot be imposed. The Church is then, in Christ, the place for welcoming and mediating God's love. In this perspective it is clear how the sanctity and the missionary nature of the Church are two sides of the same coin. Only in as much as she is saintly - that is, full of divine love - can the Church achieve her mission, and its precisely by virtue of this task that God has chosen her and sanctified her as His property".
Reflecting further upon the link between sanctity and mission, the Pope noted that "it helps to recall that the twelve Apostles were not perfect men, chosen for their irreprehensible moral and religious qualities. They were certainly believers, ... but marked by their human limitations, sometimes serious limitations, ... like us, like all Christians. ... The Church is a community of sinners who believe in the love of God and allow themselves to be transformed by Him, and thus they become saints".
"The missionary method, in other words the inner attitude that is translated into real life, ... cannot but be that of Jesus: the method of 'compassion'", said the Pope. "Christian compassion has no connection with pietism, with the simple provision of assistance. Rather it is a synonym of solidarity and sharing, and it is animated by hope. ... Animated by the hope in which you have been saved", Benedict XVI told his hearers in conclusion, "be signs and instruments of the compassion and mercy of Christ".
PV-ITALY/HOMILY/BRINDISI VIS 20080616 (540)