Why do we need a Saviour? What is salvation? These are some of the themes dealt with in a reflection just published by the Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).
The accompanying press release stressed that it is not a dogmatic treatment of the issue, but is rather meant to offer a theological reflection on the meaning of the Paschal Mystery and on the role of Christ in our salvation.
It starts by referring to the many problems the world faces today and to the fact that technology cannot provide a definitive solution to them. “We need a deeper conversion of hearts to take root among more and more people.”
Jesus provides us with a way to salvation. It goes on to base the explanation of how this takes place through the text of St Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians, 3:18-19.
“I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Starting with the term depth the reflection notes that: “One of the characteristics of the dynamic of love is that it appeals to the inmost centre or depth of the person, often referred to as the heart. Superficial compliance based on threats or empty promises or other forms of manipulation can ensure desired patterns of behaviour for a time, but if the heart is not changed older patterns of disorder will recur sooner or later.”
In turn depth requires length. Preparing people to receive the message of salvation does not happen overnight and it requires careful preparation and waiting for the right moment.
“Length is part of God’ plan of salvation, which took centuries to unfold,” the document adds.
“God is not interested in fly-by-night followers but in hearts that are transformed, and all the more transformed because their life experiences, especially that of being forgiven sinners, has deepened their yearning. In brief, depth and length go together.”
Turning to height the reflection says that the dynamic of love, based on God’s grace, leads us far above what we could imagine.
“It seeks nothing less than the introduction of each human being into the intimate life of God, and a new heaven and a new earth which perfectly reflect the glory that flows from this intimacy.”
Breadth deals with how persons create relationships with one another.
“Ultimately God’s project of salvation leads to the Body of Christ in which all people, values, cultures, religions will be recapitulated and brought to a oneness in which all will be in all.”
The reflection goes on to a lengthy reflection on the Cross and the death of Jesus and why it was that Jesus had to die. God calls us to an intimate relationship with him, “in a solidarity of love and suffering made possible by his Son who became one of us,” it concludes.
Full text of the reflection – http://www.cccb.ca/site/images/stories/pdf/Jesus_and_Salvation.pdf