Ministers of Your Joy
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By Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
“We are workers with you for your joy,” states St. Paul, “because you stand firm in the faith.” These words, declared Pope Benedict XVI in a 2008 ordination homily, are the very program of the priesthood. To fulfill this program, he told the ordinandi, “the fire of the Gospel must burn within you and the joy of the Lord dwell in you. Only then will you be able to be messengers and multipliers of this joy.”
We find this joy of Christ if we have the courage to let ourselves burn with the message of the Lord. And if we have found it then we can set others on fire, because we are then servants of joy in the midst of a world of death. (Joseph Ratzinger)
Remarkably, the eight reflections of Ministers of Your Joy antedate that homily by thirty-plus years, yet each plays on the theme of that joy which comes only from the Gospel with the lucid brilliance and graceful authority typical of its author. The first seven—homilies for a First Mass, for the Feast of St. John the Baptist, for the Third Sunday of Easter, and for seminarians—meditate on the Scripture readings for the Mass of that day and their illumination of the priestly task. The last, a meditation for Cardinal Joseph Höffner’s golden jubilee, clarifies the theology that supports the volume as a whole—that the purpose and power of the priesthood is to lead souls into the joyful salvation won by Jesus Christ.
Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) (1927–2022) served as Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church from 2005 to 2013. A brilliant, contemplative theologian, he wrote dozens of books, including the enormously influential Introduction to Christianity, the Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, and the papal encyclicals Deus Caritas Est and Spe Salvi, as well as numerous other scholarly and spiritual works.
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