VATICAN CITY, DEC. 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Those who live as if Christ doesn’t exist must hear that he is, in fact, the “only hope of the world,” says the preacher of the Pontifical Household.
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa preached today the fourth in a series of Advent meditations in the presence of Benedict XVI and his aides in the Roman Curia in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.
The theme for the series is “For What We Preach Is Not Ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord: Faith in Christ Today.”
His fourth meditation focused on the experience of salvation in Christ today.
For the first Christian generations, said the preacher, salvation in Christ “was above all a reality experienced in life,” and not “only a truth believed from Revelation.”
Given that “in many aspects we are today very close to the situation of the origins,” “we can learn from that time how to re-evangelize a world which is again to a large extent, pagan,” he continued.
But, “outside the Christian faith,” among the current positions regarding salvation are the “new religions … with a common background in the New Age movement,” the Capuchin noted.
According to these positions, the priest added, “salvation does not come from outside, but is potentially in man himself,” and “there is no need … of a savior, but, at most, of teachers who teach the way of self-realization.”
Meanwhile, on the part of “nonbelieving science,” he added, God is called “chance.”
According to Father Cantalamessa, these currents of thought make man feel “even smaller and insignificant,” with the evolution in mass communication which places before his eyes what he could be and is not, or arouses the “obsessive need to emerge from anonymity and call attention to oneself.”
But “faith in Christ liberates us” from that sensation and need, he said. “It reconciles us with ourselves” and “gives us the possibility to be happy and to be fully realized where we are,” and its “wonderful fruit is peace.”
“The coming of Christ in the incarnation, kept alive through the centuries by the Eucharist, makes of each place the first place,” the preacher continued. “With Christ in the heart one feels oneself in the center of the world, including in the most remote village of the earth.”
Because of this, “faith in Christ saves one above all from the immensity of space,” he said.
“The second realm in which one experiences the salvation of Christ is that of time,” the Capuchin said, addressing the problem of death.
Here, the hope given today “of surviving in the species has revealed itself insufficient to placate man’s anguish in the face of his own death.”
However, “human death is no longer the same as before,” “it is no longer a wall before which everything breaks,” the Pontifical Household preacher said. “Christ has conquered death.”
Breaks the chains
And “here is the great Christian announcement,” the priest continued. Jesus “did not die for himself,” but rather he “experienced death for the good of all,” “he came to liberate men from the fear of death, not to increase it.”
In addition to the event of the resurrection of Christ, the “believer experiences already now, in the moment in which he believes, something of this victory over death,” he stated.
In any case, according to Father Cantalamessa, “It is not enough, however, that I recognize Christ as ‘Savior of the world’; it is necessary that I recognize him as ‘my Savior.'”
“It is an immense consolation,” he continued, “to continually discover that Christ’s hand is ready to lift us up, if only we seek and grab hold of it.”
To the “Docetist heretics of his time, who denied the Incarnation of the Word and his true humanity, Tertullian proffered the cry: ‘Do not take away from the world its only hope,'” he said.
“It is the cry that we must repeat to the men of today,” continued the Pontifical Household preacher, “tempted to do without Christ. He is, still today, the only hope of the world.”