Who do we think can save us? What are we hoping in? These are the questions that I invite you to reflect on, in light of Pope Benedict’s Encyclical Spes Salvi (Saved by Hope). Today, the Pope himself with the report from Asia News Italy provides our reflection:
“Science contributes much to the good of mankind, but it is not capable of redemption. Man is redeemed by love, which transforms his personal and social life for the better. This is why hope, full and definitive hope, is guaranteed only by God, who in Jesus Christ came to us and gifted us life, and it will return in Him in the fullness of time. It is in Christ that we hope, it is for Him that we wait!” Weaving together hope, love, faith and waiting – recalling some of the themes present in his new encyclical Spe salvi – Benedict XVI began the first Angelus of the new liturgical year, which for the Church begins with the first Sunday of Advent.
“Advent – said the pope – is …. That time when in our hearts reawakens the hopeful waiting for He “who is who was and who will come again’ (Ap 1,8). The Son of God already came to Bethlehem, twenty centuries ago, he comes in every moment to the souls of the communities willing to receive him, he will come again in the fullness of time, ‘to judge the living and the dead’. The believer is therefore, ever vigilant, animated by the intimate hope of meeting the Lord”.
The beginning of the liturgical years is when “God’s people once again set out on the journey, to re-live the mystery of Christ in history”. This journey is a mission of evangelization: “Christ is the same yesterday, today and always (Eb 13,8); instead history changes and asks to be constantly evangelized; it needs to be renewed from within and the only true novelty is Christ: it is fully realized in Him, the bright future of man and of the world”.
The pontiff recalled that in his new encyclical Spe salvi (we have been saved by hope – cfr Rom 8, 24), published two 2 days ago, he reflects on the Christian hope and that it is dedicated to “the Church and to all men of goodwill”.
Hope “is a gift which changes the life of those who receive it, as the lives of the saint’s show. What does this hope, so great and ‘trustworthy’ that we say we are saved by it, consist of? In short it is awareness of God, the discovery of his fatherly and merciful heart. Jesus, through his death on the cross and his resurrection, revealed his face to us, the face of a God so great in love that it communicates unshakeable hope, a hope that not even death can break, because the lives of those who trust themselves to this Father, open up onto a horizon of blessed eternity”.
Benedict XVI also underlined that often Christian hope has been marginalized by history: “The progress of modern science has increasingly pushed faith and hope to the private, individual sphere this is why today it is becoming all the more evident that the world, that man, is in need of God – of the true God! – otherwise they remain without hope”. In his encyclical he has also highlights that this form of marginalization is also derived from a “withdrawal” of Christians from the course of history, reducing Christian hope to a hope for individual salvation thus reducing the “horizon”, without “sufficiently recognizing the greatness of his duty”(v. Spe salvi, n. 25).
This is why in wishing a “happy Advent to all”, the pope indicated the path to follow: “With Mary, our Mother, the Church goes forth to meet her Spouse: and it does so through works of love because hope, like faith, is shown through love”.