March 26, 2006

Gaudium et Spes 38

Gaudium et Spes 38 addresses some of the recent concerns expressed in the comment boxes on my blog.

For God's Word, through Whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh and dwelt on the earth of men.(cf. John 1:3 and 14) Thus He entered the world's history as a perfect man, taking that history up into Himself and summarizing it.(cf. Eph. 1:10) He Himself revealed to us that "God is love" (1 John 4:8) and at the same time taught us that the new command of love was the basic law of human perfection and hence of to worlds transformation.

Human perfection--that's a high ideal. It's also an ideal that's not without hope:

To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of love lies open to (people) and that the effort to establish a universal (family) is not a hopeless one. He cautions them at the same time that this charity is not something to be reserved for important matters, but must be pursued chiefly in the ordinary circumstances of life. Undergoing death itself for all of us sinners,(cf. John 3:16; Rom. 5:8) He taught us by example that we too must shoulder that cross which the world and the flesh inflict upon those who search after peace and justice. Appointed Lord by His resurrection and given plenary power in heaven and on earth,(cf. Acts 2:36; Matt. 28:18) Christ is now at work in the hearts of (people) through the energy of His Holy Spirit, arousing not only a desire for the age to come, but by that very fact animating, purifying and strengthening those noble longings too by which the human family makes its life more human and strives to render the whole earth submissive to this goal.

The council bishops also recognize that not every individual possesses the same calling. However, every bliever shares that ideal endpoint in God's salvific plan.

Now, the gifts of the Spirit are diverse: while He calls some to give clear witness to the desire for a heavenly home and to keep that desire green among the human family, He summons others to dedicate themselves to the earthly service of (others) and to make ready the material of the celestial realm by this ministry of theirs. Yet He frees all of them so that by putting aside love of self and bringing all earthly resources into the service of human life they can devote themselves to that future when humanity itself will become an offering accepted by God.(cf. Rom. 15:16)

The celebration of the Eucharist is seen as an indispensible part of the life of believers. It is also a symbol of the way in which human activity can be steered and changed by God for a greater good.

The Lord left behind a pledge of this hope and strength for life's journey in that sacrament of faith where natural elements refined by man are gloriously changed into His Body and Blood, providing a meal of (familial) solidarity and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.