|Saint Pope John Paul II|
"Let the Messiah, the King of Israel come down now from the cross that we may see and believe." (Mark 15.32)
But he did not accept that challenge. The fact that he stayed on the Cross until the end, the fact that on the Cross he could say, as do all who suffer,
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15.34)
If the agony on the Cross had not happened, the truth that God is Love would have been unfounded. Yes! God is Love and precisely for this he gave his Son, to reveal himself completely as Love. Christ is the One who "loved...to the end." (John 13.1) "To the end" means to the last breath.
To save means to liberate from evil. This does not refer only to social evils, such as injustice, coercion, exploitation. Nor does it refer only to disease, catastrophes, natural cataclysms, and everything that has been considered disaster in the history of humanity. To save means to liberate from radical, ultimate evil. Death itself is no longer that kind of evil, if followed by the Resurrection. And the Resurrection comes about through the work of Christ. Through the work of the Redeemer death ceases to be an ultimate evil; it becomes subject to the power of life. The world does no have such power. The world, which is capable of perfecting therapeutic techniques in various fields, does not have the power to liberate man from death. And therefore the world cannot be a source of salvation for man. Only God saves, and He saves the whole of humanity in Christ
The essential usefulness of faith consists in the fact that, through faith, man achieves the good of his rational nature. And he achieves it by giving his response to God, as is his duty - a duty not only to God, but to himself. Christ did everything in order to convince us of the importance of this response. Man is called upon to give this response with inner freedom so that it will radiate that veritatis splendor (splendor of truth) so essential to human dignity. Christ wants to awaken faith in human hearts. He wants them to respond to the word of the Father, but he wants this in full respect for human dignity. In the very search for faith an implicit faith is already present, and therefore the necessary condition for salvation is already satisfied.
What emanates from the figure of Saint Joseph is faith...Joseph of Nazareth is a "just man" because he totally "lives by faith." He is holy because his faith is truly heroic. Sacred Scripture says little of him. It does not record even one word spoken by Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth. And yet, even without words, he shows the depth of his faith, his greatness. Saint Joseph is a man of great spirit. He is great in faith, not because he speaks his own words, but above all because he listens to the words of the Living God. He listens in silence. And his heart ceaselessly perseveres in the readiness to accept the Truth contained in the word of the Living God. We see how the word of the Living God penetrates deeply into the soul of that man, that just man. And we, do we know how to listen to the word of God? Do we know how to absorb it into the depths of our human personalities? Do we open our conscience in the presence of this word?
On my pastoral journeys around the world I always try to meet representatives of the Jewish community. But a truly exceptional experience for me was certainly my visit to the synagogue of Rome. The history of the Jews in Rome is a unique chapter in the history of the Jewish people, a chapter closely linked for that matter to The Acts of the Apostles. During that memorable visit, I spoke of the Jews as our elder brothers in the faith. These words were an expression both of the Vatican Council's teaching and a profound conviction of the part of the Church.... The New Convent has its roots in the old. The time when the people of the Old Covenant will be able to see themselves as part of the New is a question to be left to the Holy Spirit. We, as human beings, try only not to put obstacles in the way. Forgive us, Lord, when we fail to foster genuine understanding between Christians and Jews.
Many people today are disoriented and lost in search of genuine fellowship. Often their lives are either too superficial or shattered by brokenness. Their work often is dehumanizing. They long for an experience of genuine encounter with others, for true fellowship. Well, is this not precisely the vocation of a parish? Are we not called to be a warm, brotherly family together? Are we not people united together in the household of God through our common life? Your parish is not mainly a structure, a geographical area or a building. The parish is first and foremost a community of the faithful. This is the task of a parish today: to be a community, to rediscover its identity as a community. You are not a Christian all by yourself. To be a Christian means to believe and to live one's faith together with others. For we are all members of the body of Christ.... For fellowship to grow, the priest's role is not enough, even though he plays an essential role. The commitment of all parishioners is needed. Each of their contributions is vital.