(19 Nov 08 - RV) Continuing his series of lessons on St. Paul, Pope Benedict XVI
dedicated his general audience to the "question of justification. How do human beings
make themselves just in the eyes of God?" .
Paul’s experience of the
Risen Lord on the road to Damascus led him to see that it is only by faith in Christ,
and not by any merit of our own, that we are made righteous before God. Our justification
in Christ is thus God’s gracious gift, revealed in the mystery of the Cross. Christ
died in order to become our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (cf.
1 Cor 1:30), and we in turn, justified by faith, have become in him the very righteousness
of God (cf. 2 Cor 5:21). In the light of the Cross and its gifts of reconciliation
and new life in the Spirit, Paul rejected a righteousness based on the Law and its
The Pope also went on to say that that we receive the
grace of justification and new life through faith.
For the Apostle,
the Mosaic Law, as an irrevocable gift of God to Israel, is not abrogated but relativized,
since it is only by faith in God’s promises to Abraham, now fulfilled in Christ, that
we receive the grace of justification and new life. The Law finds its end in Christ
(cf. Rom 10:4) and its fulfilment in the new commandment of love. With Paul, then,
let us make the Cross of Christ our only boast (cf. Gal 6:14), and give thanks for
the grace which has made us members of Christ’s Body, which is the Church.
the conclusion of his audience Pope Benedict greeted all the English speaking pilgrims
who had come from countries including South Africa, the United States and England.