Savior and salvation

Third Sunday of Lent.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The Lord Jesus performs many miracles and signs that lead many to begin to believe in Him. Yet he is not a wonderworker who performs prodigies, He is the Messiah whom the Samaritan woman confesses.

Indeed, Jesus Christ is our Savior and our salvation. These days the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, at the direction of Pope Francis, has published a letter entitled “Placuit Deo”, on certain aspects of Christian salvation.

““In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature. The deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation…”

The contemporary world perceives not without difficulty the confession of the Christian faith, which proclaims Jesus as the only Savior of the whole human person and of all humanity. On one hand, individualism centered on the autonomous subject tends to see the human person as a being whose sole fulfilment depends only on his or her own strength. In this vision, the figure of Christ appears as a model that inspires generous actions with his words and his gestures, rather than as He who transforms the human condition by incorporating us into a new existence, reconciling us with the Father and dwelling among us in the Spirit. On the other hand, a merely interior vision of salvation is becoming common, a vision which, marked by a strong personal conviction or feeling of being united to God, does not take into account the need to accept, heal and renew our relationships with others and with the created world. In this perspective, it becomes difficult to understand the meaning of the Incarnation of the Word, by which He was made a member of the human family, assuming our flesh and our history, for us and for our salvation…

Salvation consists in our union with Christ, who, by his Incarnation, death and Resurrection has brought about a new kind of relationship with the Father and among human persons, and has introduced us into these relationships, thanks to the gift of the Spirit, so that we are able to unite ourselves to the Father as sons in the Son, and become one body in the “firstborn among many brothers.”

Man perceives himself, directly or indirectly, as a mystery: ‘Who am I? I exist, and yet do not have the principle of my existence within myself.’ Every person, in his or her own way, searches for happiness and attempts to obtain it by making recourse to the resources one has available. However, this universal aspiration is not necessarily expressed or declared; rather, it is often more secret and hidden than it may appear, and is ready to reveal itself in the face of particular crises. Often it coincides with a hope for physical health; sometimes it takes the form of worrying about greater economic well-being; it expresses itself widely as the need for interior peace and for a peaceful coexistence with one’s neighbor. On the other hand, while the question of salvation presents itself as dedicated toward a higher good, it also maintains the character of endurance and of overcoming pain. Together with the struggle to attain the good comes the fight to ward of evil: ignorance and error, fragility and weakness, sickness and death.

Regarding these aspirations, faith in Christ teaches, rejecting all claims of self-realization, that these can be fulfilled completely only if God himself makes it possible, by drawing us toward Himself…

The healings performed by Jesus, in which he makes present the providence of God, were a sign that pointed back to his own person, He who is fully revealed as Lord of life and of death in his paschal event. According to the Gospel, salvation for all people begins with welcoming Jesus: “Today salvation has come to this house”. The good news of salvation has a name and a face: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” …

The knowledge of the fullness of life into which Christ the Savior introduces us propels Christians onward in the mission of announcing to all the joy and light of the Gospel. In this work, Christians must also be prepared to establish a sincere and constructive dialogue with believers of other religions, confident that God can lead “all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way” towards salvation in Christ. While dedicating herself with all of her efforts to evangelization, the Church continues to invoke the definitive coming of the Savior, since it is “in hope that we are saved”. The salvation of men and women will be complete only when, after having conquered the last enemy, death, we will participate fully in the glory of the risen Jesus, who will bring our relationship with God, with our brothers and sisters, and with all of creation to fullness. Total salvation of the body and of the soul is the final destiny to which God calls all of humanity.”

Fr. Roberto M. Cid