Sunday, December 02, 2007

Angelus: Christ is history's fulfillment

~translation via Papa Ratzinger Forum

Dear brothers and sisters!

A new liturgical year begins with this first Sunday of Advent. The People of God resume the journey to relive the mystery of Christ in history.

Christ is the same yesterday, today and always (cfr Heb 13,5), whereas history changes, thus requiring constant evangelization. It always needs to be renewed internally, and the only true news is Christ: it is he who is history's fulfillment, the luminous future of man and the world.

Resurrected from the dead, Jesus is the Lord to whom God the Father subjects all enemies, including death itself (cfr 1 Cor 15,25-28). Advent is the propitious time to reawaken in our hearts the expectation of him "who is, who was, and who is to come" (Ap 1,8).

The Son of God came to Bethlehem twenty centuries ago, he comes every moment to every soul and community ready to receive him, he will come again at the end of time to 'judge the living and the dead.'

Thus, the believer must always be vigilant, inspired by the intimate hope of meeting the Lord, as the Psalm says: "I wait with longing for the Lord, my soul waits for his word. My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak..." (Ps 129[130],5-6)

This Sunday is, therefore, a day more than appropriate to offer to the whole church and to all men of goodwill my second encyclical that I dedicated precisely to the theme of Christian hope.

It is called Spe salvi, because it opens with the statement of St. Paul, "Spe salvi facti sumus" (Rm 8,24) - In hope we have been saved. In this, as in other passages of the New Testament, the word 'hope' is closely tied to the word 'faith'. It is a gift that changes the life of those who receive it, as the experience of so many saints has shown.

What does this hope consist of? how great and trustworthy is it that makes us say that in hope we have salvation? In substance, it consists of knowing God, discovering his heart, the heart of a good and merciful Father.

Jesus, with his death on the Cross and his Resurrection, showed us his face, the face of God with a love so great as to give us an unshakable hope that not even death can begin to shatter, because the life of whoever entrusts himself to this Father opens up to the prospect of eternal beatitutde.

The development of modern science has more and more confined faith and hope to the private and individual sphere, so that today it is quite evident, often tragically so, that man and the world have need of God - of the true God! - or else, they will remain deprived of hope.

Science contributes much to the good of humanity, without a doubt, but it is not able to redeem it. Man is redeemed by love, which makes personal and social life both good and beautiful.

For this, the great hope, that which is full and definitive, is guaranteed by God, God who is love, who in Jesus visited us and gave his life for us, and in him will come back at the end of time.

In Christ we hope, and it is him we await. With Mary his mother, the Church goes towars a meeting with the Bridegroom. It does this with works of charity, because hope, like faith, is shown through love.

I wish all a good Advent.

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