Friday, December 21, 2007

More on Spe Salvi and advent hope.

In his encyclical The Holy Father makes reference to the many hopes great and small that all humans have. He reminds us that these hopes are necessary and good but can not replace the great hope of being loved by God.
During his Christmas reflection on Wednesday the Pope Benedict reminded us of our call to be witnesses and how the witness of our life can be hope for the world though they are “unaware”. Advent and Christmas are full of many good, small hopes, but they are only figures of the event which makes the great hope possible.
He later connects this hope we have to evangelization. Again touching on a theme from Spe Salvi in which, several times he argues against any type of individualistic paradigm of salvation. The gospel is never subjective or individualistic. It has always been, he states, a social phenomenon. Therefore, the hope we rejoice over at Christmas must never become an individual hope or an individual joy. Likewise, evangelism must never become individualistic though often it does; when the focus becomes saving oneself from judgment and hell. Both must be hope based on the objective reality of God incarnate in Christ as revealed to the Church. In order to clarify what is meant by evangelization he recommends we study and reflect on the “Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization”.


“The Child, adored 2,000 years ago by the shepherds in a cave of Bethlehem, never stops visiting us in our daily life as we, like pilgrims, walk toward the Kingdom. As he waits, the believer becomes the spokesperson for the hopes of all humankind; humanity longs for justice, and thus, though often unaware, waits for God, waits for the salvation that only God can give us…
It is therefore very important that we are true believers, and as believers, that we reaffirm forcefully, with our lives, the mystery of salvation that comes with the celebration of Christ's birth! In Bethlehem, the Light which illumines our life was made manifest to the world; the Way which leads to the fullness of our humanity was revealed to us. What sense does it make to celebrate Christmas if we don't acknowledge that God has become man? The celebration becomes empty.
Before all else, we Christians have to reassert with deep and heartfelt conviction the truth of Christ's birth in order to bear witness before all the awareness of an unparalleled gift that enriches not only us, but everyone.
The duty of evangelization is to convey this "eu-angelion," the "good news." This was recalled by the document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith titled "Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization," which I would like to offer for your reflection and personal as well as communal study.” [The full document can be found online at vatican.va]

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