Part One, Chapter Three takes a careful look at God’s Initiative and the Church’s Ministry. What does that mean exactly? First, that God is the One who freely offers every person the opportunity for reconciliation. To be sure, we know countless generations have lived and died without knowing the One, True God. How does reconciliation work for them? That, my friends, is a true mystery. We also know that many people are chased away from Jesus and his offer of mercy. The Lord revealed that punishment for believers will be harsh when they give antigospel witness and initiate others turning away from God. Somehow, we have to trust in divine providence and an ultimate compassion.
Pope John Paul II offers a brief introduction to this chapter:
10. The church, as a reconciled and reconciling community, cannot forget that at the source of her gift and mission of reconciliation is the initiative, full of compassionate love and mercy, of that God who is love (Cf 1 John 4:8) and who out of love created human beings; (Cf Wisdom 11:23-26; Genesis 1:27; Psalm 8:4-8) and he created them so that they might live in friendship with him and in communion with one another.
This is the basis for our understanding of God’s intent for the human race. Note this rather Jesuit expression: friendship with God. We see this expressed in the Genesis narrative before the temptation and fall. Adam and Eve live in harmony with one another and as companions of God. Their free choice to disobey tarnishes all the relationships in the original garden. The mission of Jesus is to restore this lost friendship to the entire world. This will occupy the following sections of this chapter: God’s agency to reestablish a relationship with human beings, the role of the Church in this effort, and the other opportunities people may find in today’s world.
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