As we look with Pope John Paul II at the five ways in which the Church supports the Reign of God, we turn to “gospel values” in this post. He cites the term twice with quotes. What does he mean? I found this a difficult concept to grasp given the treatment in this section.
The Church serves the kingdom by spreading throughout the world the “gospel values” which are an expression of the kingdom and which help people to accept God’s plan.
At my first reading, I wondered if he meant moral values. The key hint, I think, is the qualifier of these values as a “temporal dimension” that looks to a final fulfillment in the Reign of God to come. Read the rest and tell me what you think:
It is true that the inchoate reality of the kingdom can also be found beyond the confines of the Church among peoples everywhere, to the extent that they live “gospel values” and are open to the working of the Spirit who breathes when and where he wills (cf. Jn 3:8). But it must immediately be added that this temporal dimension of the kingdom remains incomplete unless it is related to the kingdom of Christ present in the Church and straining towards eschatological fullness.(Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 34)
The Scripture reference is Jesus’ late night encounter with the Pharisee Nicodemus. The Lord’s listener struggles with the notion of being “born again” of water and Spirit. Nicodemus certainly struggled with Jesus’ word here. But as we read in the Church’s tradition, he was counted among his disciples and participated in the Paschal Mystery in a small way after the death of the Lord.
Certainly God has made us to desire and seek him. Even people who do not know Jesus or who have been chased away from Christian faith have this impulse. And again, as always, keep in mind that the expression of the Church described here would exclude persons, even hierarchical persons, who have by their negative witness, worked contrary to the mission of Christ.
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