VATICAN CITY – Without the practice of Christian charity, the world today risks a disastrous fixation on personal self-interest, Pope Benedict XVI said.
The pope made his remarks at a noon blessing Nov. 23, the feast of Christ the King. Addressing pilgrims from his apartment window above St. Peter’s Square, he said Christ made it clear that his kingdom, while not of this world, works within human history to bring about all that is good.
“If we put into practice love for our neighbor, following the Gospel message, then we make space for the rule of God and his kingdom is realized among us. If instead everyone thinks only of his own interests, the world can only go to ruin,” the pope said.
The pope said Christ used clear language to describe how people will be judged by God, as related in the Gospel of St. Matthew.
“The images are simple and the language is popular, but the message is extremely important: it is the truth about our ultimate destiny and about the criteria by which we will be evaluated: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,’ and so on,” he said.
“Who does not know this passage? It is part of our civilization. It has marked the history of the peoples of Christian culture: the hierarchy of values, the institutions, the various humanitarian and social works,” he said.
The pope said Christians need to remember that the kingdom of God is not a question of honors and appearances, but of justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. God will welcome those who work daily to carry out his teachings, not the hypocrites who talk about Christ but fail to put his commandments into practice, he said.