CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY (ZENIT) — Before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence July 22, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Christ as the good Shepherd, and of Mary Magdalene as “among the lost sheep whom Jesus brought back to safety.”
“The Word of God this Sunday … reminds us that God is the Shepherd of humanity. This means that God wants life for us, He wants to guide us to good pastures, where we can be nourished and find repose; He does not want us to be lost and die but to reach the goal of our journey, which is precisely the fullness of life. This is what every father and mother wants for their own children: goodness, happiness, completeness. In today’s Gospel Jesus presents Himself as the Shepherd of the lost sheep of the House of Israel. He sees the people as a shepherd sees His sheep. … Jesus incarnates God the Shepherd with His manner of preaching and His deeds, caring for the sick and sinners, those who are ‘lost’ (cf. Luke 19:20), to bring them back to safety in the mercy of the Father.
“Among the lost sheep whom Jesus brought back to safety there is a woman named Mary, who came from the town of Magdala (whence the surname Magdalene), which is on the Sea of Galilee. Today is her liturgical memorial on the Church’s calendar. The evangelist Luke tells us that Jesus chased seven demons out of her (cf. Luke 8:2), that is, He saved her from total enslavement to the evil one.
“This profound healing that God works through Jesus … consists in a true, complete peace, the fruit of reconciliation of the person with himself and in his relationships: with God, with other people, and with the world. In effect, the evil one always seeks to ruin God’s work, sowing division in the human heart between body and soul, between man and God, in interpersonal, social and international relationships and also between man and creation. The evil one sows war; God creates peace. Indeed, as St. Paul says, Christ ‘is our peace, He who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through His flesh’ (Ephesians 2:14).
“To accomplish this work of radical reconciliation Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had to become ‘the Lamb of God ... who takes away the sins of the world’ (John 1:29). Only in this way was he able to realize the stupendous promise of the psalm: ‘Only goodness and kindness follow me, all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come’ (Psalm 22/23:6).
“Dear friends, these words make our hearts vibrate, because they express our most profound desire, they speak of that for which we are made: life, eternal life! They are the words of those who, like Mary Magdalene, have experienced God in their lives and know His peace. They are words that are true more than ever upon the lips of the Virgin Mary, who already lives forever in the pastures of heaven, where she has been led by the one who is the Lamb and the Shepherd. Mary, Mother of Christ our peace, pray for us!”