Palm Sunday: "The gravitational force of God"

In opening Holy Week, His Holiness Benedict XVI preached at St. Peter’s today, giving a rousing reminder to the faithful and the world that—as he noted in his encyclical Spe Salvi—it is love, not science, that redeems the human person. And it is love that’s at that the core of Holy Week.

In his Palm Sunday homily, the Holy Father used the language of natural sciences to reflect the truths of the Gospel. Here, he uses the scientific jargon of gravity so that we may reflect on our own lives. The full homily is here, thanks to Vatican Radio. A video of Benedict's Palm Sunday is below, but here's a key paragraph within his homily:

The Fathers of the Church maintained that human beings stand at the point of intersection between two gravitational fields. First, there is the force of gravity which pulls us down – towards selfishness, falsehood and evil; the gravity which diminishes us and distances us from the heights of God. On the other hand there is the gravitational force of God’s love: the fact that we are loved by God and respond in love attracts us upwards. Man finds himself betwixt this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God, which makes us authentic, elevates us and grants us true freedom.

This homiletic style is a B16 trademark. His studies of St. Bonaventure in the late 1950s encouraged Joseph Ratzinger to see revelation as having an “historical character.” This trait of revelation allows the generations and the ages to hear the same, unchanging truths, but with an unfolding lexicon. That is, human history, events and learning are continually baptized by revelation, their meaning taking on elements of, and reflecting, revealed Truth. The Truth does not grow; but the human understanding of it does.

And so, for example, for any Catholic involved in the sciences—like ecologists—the Holy Father’s Palm Sunday homily is an important one. The language of science helps us hear the language of salvation. Fittingly for Palm Sunday, this homily helps us all begin a journey to better understand God’s continuing dialogue with, and love for, the human person.

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Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.