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Theme of 4th Lenten sermon to the Curia: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’

March 18, 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 resurrection and the life,” on March 15, in his fourth Lenten sermon to Pope Francis and the Roman Curia, delivered in Paul VI Audience Hall.

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 has preached 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”; and his third sermon, to “I am the Good Shepherd.”

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 in one sense, 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.” (In contrast, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation taught 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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