Wednesday General Audience: The Truth is the truth, there is no compromise

 The feast of John the Baptist’s martyrdom, “reminds us, Christians of our time that we can not stoop to compromises with the love of Christ, his Word, the Truth. The Truth is the Truth and there is no compromise”, said Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday during his general audience held in Castel Gandolfo.

2, 600 French altar servers – girls and boys – were among the thousands gathered in Freedom Square, before the Apostolic palace to hear Pope Benedict’s catechesis dedicated to the memorial of the Forerunner to Christ and how he teaches us that Christian witness is fed by prayer. “Christian life”, he said “requires, so to speak, the daily “martyrdom” of fidelity to the Gospel, that is the courage to let Christ grow in us and direct our thinking and our actions”.

The Holy Father added that this courage can only come from a solid relationship with God: “Prayer is not a waste of time, it does not rob much space from our activities, not even apostolic activities, it does the exact opposite: only if we are able to have a life of faithful, constant, confident prayer will God Himself give us the strength and capacity to live in a happy and peaceful way, to overcome difficulties and to bear witness with courage. St. John the Baptist intercede for us, so that we always maintain the primacy of God in our lives”.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s general audience catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

on the last Wednesday of August, we celebrate the liturgical memorial of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. In the Roman Calendar, he is the only saint whose birth, June 24, and death through martyrdom are celebrated on the same day. Today’s memorial dates back to the dedication of a crypt of Sebaste in Samaria, where, by the middle of the fourth century, his head was venerated. The cult spread to Jerusalem, in the Churches of the East and Rome, with the title of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. In the Roman Martyrology, reference is made to a second finding of the precious relic, transported, for the occasion, to the church of St. Sylvester in Campo Marzio, Rome.

These small historical references help us to understand how ancient and profound devotion to the John the Baptist is. In the Gospels his role in relation to Jesus stands out very well. In particular, St Luke tells his birth, his life in the wilderness, his preaching, and St. Mark tells us about his tragic death in today’s Gospel. John the Baptist began his preaching under the emperor Tiberius, in AD 27-28, and his clear invitation addressed to the people who flocked to hear him, is to prepare the way to welcome the Lord, to straighten the crooked streets of life through a radical change of heart (cf. Lk 3, 4). But the Baptist did not limit himself to preaching repentance, conversion, he also recognized Jesus as the “Lamb of God” who comes to take away the sin of the world (Jn 1, 29), he has the deep humility to reveal in Jesus the true Messenger of God, stepping aside so that Christ can grow, be listened to and followed. As a final note, the Baptist bears witness to his fidelity to the commandments of God with his blood, without ever giving in or turning back, carrying out his mission to the very end. In his Homilies the IXth century monk,* St. Bede writes: “For [Christ] he gave his life, although he was not ordered to deny Jesus Christ, he was ordered not to silence the truth. However, he died for Christ “(Hom. 23: CCL 122, 354). For the love of truth, he did not stoop to compromises with the powerful and was not afraid to use strong words with those who had lost the path of God.

Now we look at this great figure, this strength in passion, in resistance to the powerful. Where does this life of rectitude and coherency, this interior strength, completely spent for God and to prepare the way for Jesus, come from? The answer is simple: from his relationship with God, from prayer, which is the main theme of his whole existence. John is the Divine gift that had been long invoked by his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:13), a great gift, humanly beyond hope, because both were advanced in years and Elizabeth was barren (cf. Lk 1:7), but nothing is impossible for God (cf. Luke 1:36). The announcement of the birth takes place in a place of prayer, the temple of Jerusalem, indeed it takes place when it is Zechariah’ turn to have the great privilege of entering the holiest place of the temple to burn incense to the Lord (cf. Lk 1: 8-20). The birth of John the Baptist was marked by prayer: the song of joy, praise and thanksgiving that Zechariah raises to the Lord and which we recite every morning at Lauds, the “Benedictus”, enhances the action of God in history and prophetically indicates the mission of his son John, who precedes the Son of God made flesh in order to prepare the way for Him (cf. Lk 1.67 to 79). The whole existence of the Forerunner of Jesus is powered by his relationship with God, especially in the time he spent in the wilderness (cf. Lk 1.80), the desert is a place of temptation, but also the place where the man feels his poverty most because he is deprived of material support and safety, and he understands that the only solid reference point is God Himself. John the Baptist, however, is not only a man of prayer, of constant contact with God, but also a guide in our relationship with God. The Evangelist Luke notes that when introducing the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples the “Our Father”, the request is formulated with these words: “Lord teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples “(cf. Lk 11:1).

Dear brothers and sisters, the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist reminds us, Christians of our time, that we can not stoop to compromises with the love of Christ, his Word, the Truth. The Truth is the Truth and there is no compromise. Christian life requires, so to speak, the daily “martyrdom” of fidelity to the Gospel, that is the courage to let Christ grow in us and direct our thinking and our actions. But this can only happen in our lives if there is a solid relationship with God. Prayer is not a waste of time, it does not rob much space from our activities, not even apostolic activities, it does the exact opposite: only if we are able to have a life of faithful, constant, confident prayer will God Himself give us the strength and capacity to live in a happy and peaceful way, to overcome difficulties and to bear witness with courage. St. John the Baptist intercede for us, so that we always maintain the primacy of God in our lives.

I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Indonesia, Japan and Malta. Today, the Church celebrates the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist. John, whose birth we celebrate on the twenty-fourth of June, gave himself totally to Christ, by preparing the way for him through the preaching of repentance, by leading others to him once he arrived, and by giving the ultimate sacrifice. Dear friends, may we follow John’s example by allowing Christ to penetrate every part of our lives so that we may boldly proclaim him to the world. May God bless all of you!

Note: * We are reminded by Father Marsden in the comment section that St. Bede died in 735AD, so could not have been writing in the 9th Centruy. Perhaps this refers to a futher and later commentary of St. Bede

Gertrude.

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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11 Responses to Wednesday General Audience: The Truth is the truth, there is no compromise

  1. Fr Francis Marsden says:

    St Bede died in 735 AD
    He was doing well to be still writing in the ninth century.

    Like

  2. toadspittle says:

    .
    “St Bede died in 735 AD
    He was doing well to be still writing in the ninth century.”

    Says Father Francis.
    “…but nothing is impossible for God (cf. Luke 1:36).”

    Toad quotes scripture (if such it is). A notable first.
    Many stwange ways, etc, etc, mysterious,etc, etc, and so on. Ahem, Ahurm, yes, indeed.

    Like

  3. Gertrude says:

    Thank you Father. The translation is from the Vatican, and I am sure the Holy Father would not have made such an error.

    I am loath to change it, but have added a note below lest anyone should become confused.

    Like

  4. toadspittle says:

    .
    Come, Gertrude! how can you possibly be “sure” of such a thing?
    The Pope is a mere man and not infallible, regarding historical dates, at least.
    Why should he not make the odd mistake, like the rest of us constantly do? It’s not a sin.

    Unless, of course, he’s putting his copy out through WordPress, in which case he’s doomed to all manner of abominations.

    Like

  5. toadspittle says:

    .
    “2, 600 French altar servers – girls and boys …”

    2,600? Cripes, Jabba!!!

    How many of each, is what we want to know!

    Like

  6. Gertrude says:

    On the basis that a reply is better late than never Toad, my confidence that the Holy Father would not have got Bede’s date wrong lies not in the fact that he is Supreme Pontiff, but that he has held somewhat exalted posts in academia. In my experience someone of his academic standing would not make such a mistake.

    It is more than lilkely to be an error within Vatican Radio – I would hazard a guess that someone typed IX instead of IIX!

    (We’ll pass on the subject of girl altar servers)

    Like

  7. toadspittle says:

    .
    “I would hazard a guess that someone typed IX instead of IIX!”

    Well, that’s entirely possibles Gertrude, excepts that Bede died in 735, which was the Vlll Century.
    Possibly some oaf at the Vatican (surely not the academically irreproachable Pope!) is even more maladroit at the keyboard than Toad (Whose excuse is that his little green fingers are webbed, making it hard to avoid hitting a V when aiming for an X.)

    Incidentally, that is MMDC altar servers. Sexes undisclosed.

    Like

  8. Gertrude says:

    Back to school for me! 😦

    Like

  9. toadspittle says:

    .

    Way off topic, and sorry, but this from Romney’s acceptance speech yesterday…

    04.23 (23.23 p.m.) They’re singing America the Beautiful….. A powerful invocation is being given by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, America’s most senior Catholic, who says “The only just government is the government that serves its citizens, not itself.”* He asks for prayers for Romney and Ryan but also for Obama and Biden.

    Toad finds Doughboy Dolan’s presence there very ethically dubious, even if he attends the Democratic one, as well (Which I doubt, myself.).

    What do others think? Ensures a shoe-in for Obama, though, probably.

    *Apparently the Cardinal was miraculously able to mouth this without laughing.

    Like

  10. The Raven says:

    Toad, haven’t you been following the news? This has been a big story Stateside (apparently): Dolan offered to attend both conventions, but Obama turned him down after he learnt that Dolan would also be visiting the Republicans.

    There was also a lot of fuss earlier in the summer because Dolan invited both Obama and Romney to a high profile dinner.

    Like

  11. toadspittle says:

    .
    Raven, I haven’t seen anything else on this, so far. So I will look.
    But my first reaction is, that if Dolan offered to go to the Dems convention, and Obama turned him down, then Obama needs what remains of his brain examining, as Catholics, nowadays at least, are generally regarded as being more likely to be Democtats than Republicans, and Dolan’s presense would be seen as a clear endorsement by just the sort of “uncomplicated” people Obama needs. And Dolan’s appearance at the Republican show will (joking aside,) do Romney a bit more good on balance with the moderates than the harm it will with the ultra-Right nutballs.

    But I thinkl Dolan was ill-advised to offer, or visit either.
    Inviting Bam and Mitt to dinner is another matter – as long as Dolan has a long spoon.

    Like

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