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At expanded weekly audience, Pope speaks of Christ's Kingdom of peace

Catholic World News - October 26, 2011

The Kingdom of God is a realm of peace, Pope Benedict XVI told his weekly audience on October 26.

The papal audience took an unusual format, incorporating a prayerful reading of the Scriptures as well as the Pope’s usual weekly talk. The Pontiff used the event to begin prayerful preparation for the inter-faith pilgrimage to Assisi that will take place on October 27.

“As Christians we are convinced that prayer is the most precious contribution we can make to the cause of peace,” the Holy Father said in his homily. “For this reason we, the Church of Rome and pilgrims from elsewhere, are gathered here today to listen to the Word of God and to invoke the gift of peace.”

The papal audience had been scheduled to take place in St. Peter’s Square, but rain forced a move to the Paul VI auditorium. Because that building could not seat the entire crowd, some people were escorted into St. Peter’s basilica, and the Pope held a separate audience there as well.

The Pope centered his remarks on the idea of the Kingdom of God. The prophet Jeremiah looks toward a king who brings salvation, the Pope noted, but this king does not base his authority on the force of arms. “This is a gentle king who reigns with humility and gentleness before God and man, a king quite different from the great sovereigns of the earth.”

Jesus fulfills this prophecy, the Pope continued:

He is a poor king, the king of the poor of God... He is a king who will make the chariots and steeds of battle disappear, who will break the weapons of war, a king who brought peace on the Cross, uniting heaven and earth and building a bridge between all mankind.

This Kingdom is universal, the Holy Father remarked. “The horizon of this poor and meek king is not the territorial horizon of a state, it is the confines of the world.” Those who are united in Christ, he said, comprise “a single kingdom of peace in a divided world.”

To enter into that kingdom, the Pope said, requires a spiritual journey. “It is not with power, force or violence that Christ's kingdom of peace grows, but with the giving of self, with love carried to its extreme consequences, even towards out enemies.”

Pointing to the statue in St. Peter's Square of St. Paul holding a sword, the Pope observed that this was the instrument of the Apostle's martyrdom. He concluded with the thought: “It is not the sword of the conqueror that builds peace, but the sword of those who suffer and give up their own lives.”

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