The Pope Finds the Good Wine in Milan
The farther he gets from the intrigues of the Vatican, the more Benedict XVI encounters respect and affection. His three days in the economic capital of Italy were an Ode to Joy. As in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. As in the wedding at Cana
by Sandro Magister
ROME, June 3, 2012 – Far from the Vatican curia, Benedict XVI's authentic profile appears. Nothing to act as an opaque screen. His communication with the crowd is direct. His word arrives intact to those who listen.
This is what happened in Milan between Friday, June 1, and Sunday, June 3, with the pope's visit to the archdiocese of saints Ambrose and Charles, and at the seventh world meeting of families, to the rejoicing of at least a million faithful who had come together from many nations.
And it happened above all outside of the official discourses.
For example, in the moments in which pope Joseph Ratzinger responded off the cuff to questions from adults and children.
Or in the moments in which he opened autobiographical glimpses into the "paradise" of his childhood and his passion for great music.
The great music that Benedict XVI had an opportunity to listen to and meditate on in Milan was, at the Teatro della Scala on the evening of June 1, the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven conducted by Daniel Barenboim.
The pope associated the "terrible dissonance" that introduces the final part of the symphony with the suffering and destruction that afflict men, not the least of which is the earthquake that is still shaking an area of Emilia, not far from Milan.
It is a dissonance that brings to mind a God who is blind and far away, all alone above the starry sky, indifferent to the evil in the world.
But the pope said that one must not give in to this thought. He said so in the very words of Beethoven, sung by the baritone: "Friends, not these tones! Let us intone others more pleasant and joyful." He said so with the trustful vigor of the Ode to Joy by Schiller, which crowns the symphony.
A joy that for Christians is that of knowing that God is near. The God "who suffers with us and for us, and in this way has made men and women capable of sharing the suffering of the other and of transforming it into love." The God worshiped in the Eucharist (as shortly afterward, in effect, took place in the cathedral of Milan).
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