A Humble Worker in the Lord’s Vineyard
He presented himself to the world, after his election as Pope, as a “simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.” He combined intellectual brilliance with humility, vigilance and constant prayer.
PUBLISHED ONMar 2023
Seventy one years of homilies, innumerable essays, 66 books, three encyclicals and four exhortations. All boiled down to the four last words at the hour of his death: “I love you, Jesus.”
These were the last words spoken by late Pope Benedict XVI before he died in the morning of December 31, 2022 at the age of 95. Benedict XVI’s four last words capture his deep love for Jesus Christ and the Church whom he served his entire life.
In 2007, he wrote Jesus of Nazareth on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. In the book’s introduction, the late Pope explicitly states that the treatise was an “expression of his personal search for the face of the Lord.”
He presented himself to the world, after his election as Pope, as a “simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.” This is what he always was. He combined intellectual brilliance with humility, vigilance and constant prayer.
Due to his academic genius, he participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) as an “expert.” As a young theologian at the Council, he played an important role in writing the most important documents and helped to break new ground for the reform of the Church.
He became a staunch defender of the right interpretation of Vatican II, striking a balance between conservative and liberal schools of thought.
Pope John Paul II tapped him to be the guarantor of the orthodoxy of faith and named him prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was because of this task that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger came to be regarded as a conservative.
At the papal conclave to elect a new pope following the death of Pope John Paul, the Cardinals saw in Cardinal Ratzinger the man who could carry on the legacy of his predecessor. He was elected Pope in 2005 taking the name of Pope Benedict XVI.
His deep love for the Church led Benedict XVI to abdicate in 2013, becoming the first pontiff to resign in six centuries. He realized that the best way to serve her would be to devote himself entirely to prayer for her. “Only God knows the value and the strength of his intercession, of his sacrifices offered for the good of the Church,” Pope Francis acknowledged on the day of his death.
A humble servant in the Lord’s vineyard, Pope Benedict XVI will certainly go down in history for retiring when he was convinced that this was the best way to serve the Church.