The Pope consecrates four new bishops including Father Georg and says: "Even now the successors of the apostles must expect to be mocked and beaten"
On the day on which the Church celebrates the epiphany of Jesus to the Three Wise Men, who represent all the nations, Pope Benedict XVI has proposed a parallel between the bishops and the Three Wise Men by describing the latter as men "filled with expectation, not satisfied with their secure income and their respectable place in society. They were looking for something greater". The Pope then drew a portrait of a bishop, who "must above all be a man concerned for God, for only then will he also be truly concerned about men...a Bishop must be a man concerned for others, one who is concerned about what happens to them. But he can only truly be so if he is a man seized by God", and therefore, "above all a man of prayer".
Resuming the comparison to the Three Wise Men, Benedict XVI emphasized the "the courage and humility born of faith". We can imagine that their decision to leave for the unknown, he explained, "was met with derision" but for them "seeking the truth meant more than the taunts of the world, so apparently clever". This can be a guideline for the bishops of today because, added Ratzinger, "the humility of faith, of sharing the faith of the Church of every age, will constantly be in conflict with the prevailing wisdom of those who cling to what seems certain". For the Pope, "anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking, even in our own day. Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs. Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today".
A bishop, the Pope said in his homily, "must be courageous. And this courage or forcefulness does not consist in striking out or in acting aggressively, but rather in allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of thinking. The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves". Finally, remembering an episode of the early days of Christianity when the Sanhedrin summoned the Apostles and had them flogged, prohibiting them from preaching in the name of Jesus before setting them free, Benedict XVI added: "The successors of the Apostles must also expect to be repeatedly beaten, by contemporary methods, if they continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that can be heard and understood. Like the Apostles, we naturally want to convince people and in this sense to obtain their approval. Naturally, we are not provocative; on the contrary we invite all to enter into the joy of that truth which shows us the way. The approval of the prevailing wisdom, however, is not the criterion to which we submit. Our criterion is the Lord himself".
At the end of the Angelus, Benedict XVI reminded us that tomorrow the Churches of the East, which follow the Julian calendar, will celebrate Christmas. "In the joy of the common faith", he said, "I extend to them my most cordial good wishes for peace, and I will keep them in my prayers".