Pope Benedict XVI kept a traditional yearly appointment on Friday evening, when he visited Rome’s Major Seminary to offer a lectio divina with the students, faculty and staff. The biblical text proclaimed during the reading was a brief passage from the 1st Letter of Peter – verses 3-5 of the Letter’s first chapter: Listen:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Following the reading, Pope Benedict offered a reflection on the text, without the aid of written remarks. Noting that the 1st Letter of Peter was addressed directly to the Churches in Asia, the Pope spoke of it as a sort of, “first encyclical”, through which the 1st Bishop of Rome speaks to the whole Church in every age.
Pope Benedict went on to explain and defend the authenticity of Peter’s authorship of the letter, which he said contains profound ecclesiological insights regarding the Petrine office itself. The Pope also reflected on several key terms and themes of the letter, including those of heredity, the Christian vocation to joy at being chosen by God, the relationship of the Christian – a citizen of the Heavenly Jerusalem – to the civil authority and his duty, his rights and responsibilities in the temporal order, as well as his proper attitude to earthly citizenship.