The Holy Father | Encyclicals | Download
Ioannes Paulus PP. II
1979 03 04
IntraText SC - Text
II. THE MYSTERY OF THE REDEMPTION
7. Within the Mystery of Christ
While the ways on which the Council of this century has set the Church going, ways indicated by the late Pope Paul VI in his first Encyclical, will continue to be for a long time the ways that all of us must follow, we can at the same time rightly ask at this new stage: How, in what manner should we continue? What should we do, in order that this new advent of the Church connected with the approaching end of the second millennium may bring us closer to him whom Sacred Scripture calls "Everlasting Father", Pater futuri saeculi21? This is the fundamental question that the new Pope must put to himself on accepting in a spirit of obedience in faith the call corresponding to the command that Christ gave Peter several times: "Feed my lambs"22, meaning: Be the shepherd of my sheepfold, and again: "And when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren"23.
To this question, dear Brothers, sons and daughters, a fundamental and essential response must be given. Our response must be: Our spirit is set in one direction, the only direction for our intellect, will and heart is-towards Christ our Redeemer, towards Christ, the Redeemer of man. We wish to look towards him-because there is salvation in no one else but him, the Son of God- repeating what Peter said: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life"24.
Through the Church's consciousness, which the Council considerably developed, through all levels of this self-awareness, and through all the fields of activity in which the Church expresses, finds and confirms herself, we must constantly aim at him "who is the head"25, "through whom are all things and through whom we exist"26, who is both "the way, and the truth"27 and "the resurrection and the life",28, seeing whom, we see the Father29, and who had to go away from us30-that is, by his death on the Cross and then by his Ascension into heaven-in order that the Counsellor should come to us and should keep coming to us as the Spirit of truth31. In him are "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge"32, and the Church is his Body33. "By her relationship with Christ, the Church is a kind of sacrament or sign and means of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all mankind"34, and the source of this is he, he himself, he the Redeemer.
The Church does not cease to listen to his words. She rereads them continually. With the greatest devotion she reconstructs every detail of his life. These words are listened to also by non-Christians. The life of Christ speaks, also, to many who are not capable of repeating with Peter: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"35. He, the Son of the living God, speaks to people also as Man: it is his life that speaks, his humanity, his fidelity to the truth, his all-em bracing love. Furthermore, his death on the Cross speaks-that is to say the inscrutable depth of his suffering and abandonment. The Church never ceases to relive his death on the Cross and his Resurrection, which constitute the content of the Church's daily life. Indeed, it is by the command of Christ himself, her Master, that the Church unceasingly celebrates the Eucharist, finding in it the "fountain of life and holiness"36, the efficacious sign of grace and reconciliation with God, and the pledge of eternal life. The Church lives his mystery, draws unwearyingly from it and continually seeks ways of bringing this mystery of her Master and Lord to humanity-to the peoples, the nations, the succeeding generations, and every individual human being-as if she were ever repeating, as the Apostle did: "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified"37. The Church stays within the sphere of the mystery of the Redemption, which has become the fundamental principle of her life and mission.