VATICAN CITY (EWTN News/CNA)—At a Mass for those cardinals and bishops who have died during the last year, Pope Benedict XVI said that the promise of the resurrection rests only on Christ and not any sort of naturalistic power.
Pope Benedict began his Nov. 3 homily in St. Peter’s Basilica by noting that Christ’s victory over death was foreshadowed eight centuries beforehand by the prophet Hosea.
He said that the writings of Hosea were “deeply impressed on the heart and mind of Jesus,” who would quote from them and, in the case of Hosea 6:2, actually live it out. In that passage, Hosea predicted that God “will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence.”
Jesus takes this verse and “makes it his own and realizes it in his paschal mystery,” so that when “the Lord Jesus went to meet his passion,” the “oracle of the prophet Hosea rang true in his own words,” the Pope said.
He noted that just as the disciples “did not understand the saying” of Jesus and “were afraid to question him,” so “we, too, (when) faced with death, we cannot but feel the feelings and thoughts dictated by our human condition.”
We, with our natural fear of death, are “always surprised and superseded by a God who is so close to us that he does not even stop before the abyss of death, which indeed he goes through, remaining in the tomb for two days.”
Thus, “the mystery of the ‘third day’ takes place,” said the Pope, explaining that it then became apparent that Christ took on our mortal flesh, “so that it may be invested with the glorious power of God.”
Toward the end of his homily, Pope Benedict explained that the Jews of Hosea’s time were tempted to mingle Judaism with the “naturalistic religions of the land of Canaan,” so that the promise of resurrection “was in danger of being reduced to an illusion, a symbol derived from the rhythm of the seasons: ‘like autumn rain, like spring rain.’”
Similar temptations must be avoided today, he said, since “it is in Christ alone that this hope finds its basis in reality.”
“The new and eternal life is the fruit of the tree of the cross, a tree that blooms and bears fruit because of the light and strength that comes from the sun of God.”
“Without the cross of Christ, all the energy of nature is powerless before the negative force of sin,” the Pope said.
He then commended the souls of each of the deceased bishops and cardinals to God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that “this mystery of communion, which filled all their lives, may be fully accomplished in each of them.”