Ad Intra

from the latest Lineamenta

18. The Christian faith is not simply teachings, wise sayings, a code of morality or a tradition. The Christian faith is a true encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ. Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions which lead to this encounter between the person and Jesus Christ. The goal of all evangelization is to create the possibility for this encounter, which is, at one and the same time, intimate, personal, public and communal. Pope Benedict XVI stated: "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. ... Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere 'command'; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us."19 In the Christian faith, the encounter with Christ and the relationship with him takes place "in accordance to the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3, 4). The Church is formed precisely through the grace of this relationship.

19. This encounter with Jesus, through his Spirit, is the Father's great gift to humanity. We are prepared for this encounter through the action of grace in us. In such an encounter, we feel an attraction which leads to our transformation, causing us to see new dimensions to who we are and making us partakers of divine life (cf. 2 Pt 1:4). After this encounter, everything is different as a result of metanoia, that is, the state of conversion strongly urged by Jesus himself (cf. Mk 1:15). In a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, faith takes the form of a relationship with him and in remembrance of him, especially in the Eucharist and the Word of God, and creates in us the mind of Christ, through the Spirit, a mentality which makes us recognize our brothers and sisters, gathered by the Spirit in his Church, and, in turn, see ourselves as witnesses and heralds of this Gospel. This encounter equips us to do new things and witness to the transformation of our lives in the works of conversion as announced by the prophets (cf. Jer 3:6 ff; Ez 36:24-36).

36. Although non-Christians can be saved through the grace which God bestows in ways known only to himself,28 the Church cannot overlook the fact that each person seeks to know the true face of God and to enjoy today the friendship of Jesus Christ, God-with-us. Adhering fully to Christ, the Truth, and becoming a member of his Church does not diminish human freedom, but rather enhances it and leads it to fulfilment through a selfless love and caring for the welfare of all people. What a priceless gift it is to live in the universal embrace of God's friends, which comes from communion with the life-giving flesh and blood of his Son, to receive from him the certainty that our sins are forgiven and to live in the love which is born of faith! The Church desires that everyone should partake of these riches, so that they may have the fullness of truth and the means of salvation "to obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rm 8:21). The Church, who proclaims and transmits the faith, imitates God himself who communicates with humanity by giving his Son, who, in turn, pours out the Holy Spirit so that people can be reborn as children of God.

70. Through contact with non-Christians, Christian communities have been able to learn that mission is no longer a North-South or East-West movement. Therefore, we need to go beyond the present geographic confines; mission, today, extends to all five continents. We must recognize that even in traditionally Christian countries, there are sectors and areas foreign to the faith, because in them people have never encountered the faith and not simply as a result of drifting from the Church. Going beyond continental borders means having the energy to raise the question of God in every step of the process of encountering, interchanging and reconstructing social relations which are taking place everywhere.

76. Discernment for a new evangelization clearly acknowledges the profound change which is presently taking place in the Church's evangelizing mission. Traditional, established concepts - formally denoted by the terms "countries of ancient Christianity" and "mission lands" - are no longer suitable. At present, these terms seem overly simplified and referring to outdated situations; they fail to provide useful models for Christian communities today. Pope John Paul II observed: "The boundaries between pastoral care of the faithful, new evangelization and specific missionary activity are not clearly definable, and it is unthinkable to create barriers between them or to put them into watertight compartments. ... The Churches in traditionally Christian countries, for example, involved as they are in the challenging task of new evangelization, are coming to understand more clearly that they cannot be missionaries to non-Christians in other countries and continents, unless they are seriously concerned about the non-Christians at home. Hence missionary activity ad intra is a credible sign and a stimulus for missionary activity ad extra, and vice versa."38

The Second Vatican Council recounts that the divisions among Christians are a counter-witness: "Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature."62 Overcoming these divisions is undeniably a part of a fully credible following of Christ. What unites Christians is much stronger than what divides them. Consequently, we need to encourage each other in seeking to be faithful in witnessing to the Gospel and to learn to grow in unity. In this regard, many particular Churches mentioned that ecumenism is definitely one of the fruits to be expected from the new evangelization, since both of these activities are intended to foster communion in the visible body of the Church, for the salvation of all. 

No comments:

Blog Archive