In his meditations for Advent this year, the preacher of the Pontifical House endeavors to highlight “the interior splendor of the Church and of Christian life”, without “closing his eyes to the reality of the facts”, so that everyone can face their responsibilities from the right angle.
By Tiziana Campisi
Faced with the danger of living as if the Church were only “scandals, controversies, clashes between personalities, gossip or at most some good will in the social field – in short, something for men like everyone else. remains in the course of history ”, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, cardinal and preacher of the Pontifical House, in his reflections of Advent proposes to“ look at the Church from the inside, in the strongest sense of the term, to the light of the mystery of which it is the bearer ”, so that we do not lose sight of the mystery which inhabits it. The theme of the Advent meditations hosted in the Paul VI Hall on the three Fridays before Christmas is “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son”, taken from verses 4-7 of chapter 4 of the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians, which sums up the whole Christian mystery. The cardinal resumed from his Lenten preaching, which had “sought to highlight the danger of living ‘etsi Christus non daretur’, ‘as if Christ did not exist'”.
God the Father
In today’s meditation, the Capuchin religious focuses only on the first part of the text of the Apostle to the Gentiles which guides his Advent sermons – “God sent his Son so that we could be adopted as sons. “- and underlines that” the fatherhood of God is at the very heart of the preaching of Jesus “. And if” even in the Old Testament God is seen as a father “, the novelty of the Gospel” is that now God is not seen so much as “the father of his people Israel”, in the collective sense, so to speak, but as the father of every human being, whether righteous or sinful “, and” he takes care of everyone as if he was the only one; of each one he knows the needs, the thoughts and even counts the hairs on his head. ”In short, what Jesus teaches is that“ God is not only a father in the metaphorical and moral sense. , insofar as he created and takes care of his people ”, but he is“ above all a true and natural father, of a true and natural son whom he ngendra … before the dawn of time “and thanks to which” men also will be able to become children of God in the real sense and not only metaphorically “. Father Cantalamessa also underlines that it is with the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, that is to say thanks to the redemption that he operated and applied to us in baptism, that, as St Paul says, “we have become ‘sons in the Son'”, that “Christ has become ‘the firstborn of a multitude of brothers'”.
Adoption as a son
The Apostle, explains the cardinal, uses the idea of adoption to make us understand the link which Christ establishes with men. An analogy, however, is “insufficient to express the fullness of the mystery.” Because if “human adoption in itself is a legal fact” and “the adoptee takes the name, nationality, residence of the one who adopts him”, without sharing his blood or his DNA, “for us it is not is not like that. God not only transmits to us the names of the sons, but also his intimate life, his Spirit which is, so to speak, his DNA. Through baptism, the very life of God flows through us. “So much so, continues Father Cantalamessa, that Saint John speaks of” a true and proper generation, of the birth of God “, that is why” in baptism , we are born ‘of the Spirit’, we are reborn ‘from above’. ”For the preacher of the Pontifical House, what the Pope said during the general audience of September 8 is important in this sense:“ We Christians often take for granted this reality of being children of God when we have become children, [the moment of] our baptism, in order to live with greater awareness the great gift received “.
“Behold, this is our mortal danger: to take for granted the most sublime things of our faith, including that of being nothing less than children of God, of the creator of the universe, the Almighty, the eternal, the giver of life. Saint John Paul II, in his letter on the Eucharist, written shortly before his death, spoke of the “Eucharistic wonder” that Christians should rediscover. The same must be said of divine filiation: moving from faith to wonder ”.
The wonder of faith
In the sacrament of baptism, continues the preacher of the Pontifical House, “the part of God or the grace of baptism is multiple and very rich: divine filiation, remission of sins, abode of the Holy Spirit, theological virtues of faith, of hope and charity infused into the soul, “the contribution of man, on the contrary,” consists essentially in faith. “But we need” faith-admiration, this widening of the eyes and this Oh! of wonder “before the gift of God,” the ‘savoring’ of the truth of the believed things “and the” taste “of the truth, including the bitter taste of the truth of the cross”. In short, the “raw truth” must become “lived reality”:
“How can this qualitative leap from faith to the wonder of knowing that we are children of God be made possible? The first answer is: the word of God. (There is a second and equally essential means – the Holy Spirit – but we will leave it for the next meditation). Saint Gregory the Great compares the Word of God to flint, that is to say to the stone which was once used to produce sparks and to kindle fire. We must, he said, do with the Word of God what we do with a flint: strike it repeatedly until a spark occurs. Ruminate on it, repeat it, even out loud.
Human brotherhood: all brothers and sisters
Cardinal Cantalamessa also invites people to pray to become aware of being children of God and of their dignity as Christians. All of this will also lead to an awareness of “the dignity of others, who are also sons and daughters of God,” and of the fatherhood of God towards all mankind, he says.
For us Christians, human fraternity has its ultimate reason in the fact that God is Father of all, that we are all sons and daughters of God and therefore brothers and sisters among us. There can be no stronger bond than this, and for us Christians no more urgent reason to promote universal brotherhood.
For the preacher of the Pontifical House, nourishing universal fraternity is also not tempting God “by asking him to espouse our cause against our brother”, not wanting to be right and the other wrong, to have mercy on them. towards each other, which is “indispensable for living the life of the Spirit and community life in all its forms”, “for the family and for all human and religious communities, including the Roman Curia.” Finally, the Cardinal Cantalamessa concluded his meditation by expressing the hope that Scripture can help us discover the true meaning of being children of God.