VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus offers humanity a concrete model for holiness that can be lived each day, said Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, offering the second meditation of Lent for leaders of the Roman Curia and Vatican employees.

“The life Jesus proposes to others is his way of being. The beatitudes are the self-portrait of Jesus. He teaches by what he does,” the cardinal said March 5 in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall.

The pope was not present as he was in Iraq, but the cardinal led the “Hail Mary” with those present “so that Our Lady may protect the pope during this trip.”

In his meditation, Cardinal Cantalamessa talked about how the center and focus of the church and of each Christian’s life needs to be Jesus Christ.

Jesus “is not a man like all others; he is the man all others must be like,” he said. After the ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras declared, “‘man is the measure of all things,'” the cardinal said, “now we know which man is the measure of all things. This man — Jesus.”

Jesus offers humanity a model of holiness that is not abstract or philosophical, rather “it is a real holiness, lived out moment by moment in the concrete situations of life,” he said.

The beatitudes, in fact, reflect Jesus’ life and what he proposes to everyone.

The great surprise and good news of Christ is that he actually offers and gives his holiness, the cardinal said.

“Christianity does not begin with telling people what they have to do to be saved, it begins by telling them what God did to save them with his grace” and the reasons for that grace, he said.

Now is the time for people of faith to really believe what Christ has done, that he is offering his kingdom for everyone, and to then “to appropriate” this grace by living the way God has shown.