God bless Our Holy Father Benedict XVI who delivered his Urbi et Orbi address today with striking eloquence and poignant clarity! Allow me to share three paragraphs. (the whole text is available at Catholic Culture)
“This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us! This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand is Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps 40:2).”
and then he continues to repeat the phrase “Veni ad salvandum nos!”
This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7). This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!”
After developing the thesis that Jesus Christ is the answer to our cry and that this is the meaning of the His incarnation and the baby in Bethlehem, He ends with this last paragraph.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace. Let us open our hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say to him, with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum nos!”
The fact that he keeps repeating this phrase in Latin while speaking of the timeless and universal meaning of our Lord’s mission to save us- all in the context of his “Urbi et Orbi” speech is powerful. Rhetoric could not serve a better purpose than to proclaim Christ to the world, and our Holy Father is a master of this art. Not only does he speak the message that the world needs to hear, but he develops his thesis brilliantly and briefly.
It is a universal and timeless message. How fitting that he employed the universal language to deliver such a critical message in so memorable a manner.