Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 7: In the Light of Christ the Reconciler, Continued

Let’s finish up with section 7. Pope John Paul II has set the biblical foundations for the Christian understanding of reconciliation.

Beginning with these and other significant passages in the New Testament, we can therefore legitimately relate all our reflections on the whole mission of Christ to his mission as the one who reconciles. Thus there must be proclaimed once more the church’s belief in Christ’s redeeming act, in the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection, as the cause of (human) reconciliation in its twofold aspect of liberation from sin and communion of grace with God.

Regarding the “mystery of the Cross” …

It is precisely before the sad spectacle of the divisions and difficulties in the way of reconciliation between people that I invite all to look to the mysterium crucis as the loftiest drama in which Christ perceives and suffers to the greatest possible extent the tragedy of the division of (people) from God, so that he cries out in the words of the psalmist: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34, Psalm 22:2) and at the same time accomplishes our reconciliation. With our eyes fixed on the mystery of Golgotha we should be reminded always of that “vertical” dimension of division and reconciliation concerning the relationship between (people) and God, a dimension which in the eyes of faith always prevails over the “horizontal” dimension, that is to say, over the reality of division between people and the need for reconciliation between them For we know that reconciliation between people is and can only be the fruit of the redemptive act of Christ, who died and rose again to conquer the kingdom of sin, to re-establish the covenant with God and thus break down the dividing wall which sin had raised up between people.

If a lack of harmony is part of Saint Paul’s experience as described in Romans 7:15: I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (NRSV) Our experience of sin will hamper us even when we recognize the need and opportunity to reconcile with others. Outside of a relationship with Christ, people might try their best, and accomplish something as they cooperate with God, unseen and even unbeknownst to themselves. The Christian will acknowledge their own imperfect tendencies, and call upon Jesus to assist. Others can offer help, and from this point we will turn our attention to the Church, Reconciling (section 8) and Reconciled (section 9). Meanwhile, any thoughts?

This document is Copyright © 1984 – Libreria Editrice Vatican. The link on the Vatican site is here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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