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Theme of 3rd Lenten sermon to the Curia: ‘I am the Good Shepherd’

March 11, 2024

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CWN Editor's Note: Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, the preacher of the papal household since 1980, preached on Christ’s words, “I am the Good Shepherd,” on March 8, in his third Lenten sermon to the Roman Curia.

The overarching theme of Cardinal Cantalamessa’s 2024 Lenten sermons is “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). In each Friday sermon, the prelate is preaching on a different “I am” statement made by Christ. His first sermon was devoted to “I am the bread of life”; his second sermon to “I am the light of the world.”

At the beginning of his second sermon, Cardinal Cantalamessa made the claim that the “I am” statements of Jesus in St. John’s Gospel, while true, are “not of the historical Jesus.” Thus, the prelate professed his conviction that Christ really is “the way, the truth, and the life,” even as he questioned whether “the sentence was in fact historically pronounced by the earthly Jesus”—a view difficult to reconcile with the Second Vatican Council’s teaching that the four Gospels “faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught.”

Cardinal Cantalamessa customarily preaches sermons to the Pope and members of the Roman Curia on Fridays during Advent and Lent, as well as the Good Friday homily in St. Peter’s Basilica. An exception was made for the first Lenten sermon of 2020, when Father Marko Ivan Rupnik took Cantalamessa’s place—despite Rupnik’s canonical conviction, two months earlier, of the offense of absolving an accomplice in a sexual sin.

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