Saturday, October 20, 2007

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last

~from Gaudium et Spes

Only by faith can it be seen how the earthly and heavenly city exist together and interpenetrate each other. This is a mystery at the heart of human history – a history that will continue to be disturbed by sin until the splendour of the children of God is fully revealed.

The Church pursues her own purpose, which is salvation, and communicates the divine life to mankind. In a sense, she also takes the light that comes from that life and reflects and refracts it so that it shines onto every part of the earth. Most of all, she does this by healing and uplifting the dignity of the human person, by strengthening the bonds that hold human society together and by imbuing daily human activity with a deeper meaning and importance. Thus the Church believes that through her individual members and by her community as a whole she can give great gifts to the family of man and make its history more human.

While the Church gives help to the world and receives much from the world, she has only one end in view: that the kingdom of God may come and that the salvation of all mankind may be accomplished. Whatever good the pilgrim people of God has been able to give to the human race during its sojourn on earth, that good comes from the fact that the Church herself is the universal sacrament of salvation; she both manifests the mystery of God’s love for man and puts it into action.

For the word of God, through whom all things were made, became flesh himself so that, being a perfect man, he could save mankind and sum up all things in himself. The Lord is the end towards which human history is heading, a single point at which the yearnings of history and civilisation converge, a single point that is the centre of the human race, the fulfilment of all joys and all desires. He is the one whom the Father has raised from the dead, lifted up and seated at his right hand, making him the judge of the living and the dead. United and given life in his Spirit we journey on our pilgrimage towards the consummation of human history and fulfilment of the plan of God’s love, to bring everything together under Christ, as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth.

The Lord himself has said: Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

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