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Jesus frees humanity for a new life

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
Castel Gandolfo, Wednesday 10 August 1988 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. It is worth repeating what we have said in recent catecheses when considering Christ's salvific mission as liberation and Jesus as liberator. What is involved is liberation from sin. Sin is the fundamental evil which imprisons man from within and subjects him to the slavery of the one whom Christ called "the father of lies" (Jn 8:44). At the same time, it involves liberation for the truth, which gives us a share in "the freedom of the children of God" (Rom 8:21). Jesus said, "If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (Jn 8:36). The freedom of the children of God derives from the gift of Christ; it endows us with a share in the divine sonship. It confers a share in the life of God.

Thus man liberated by Christ not only has his sins forgiven but is raised to a new life. Christ,  as author of the liberation of man, is the creator of a new humanity. In him we become "a new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17).

2. In today's catechesis, we clarify further this aspect of salvific liberation which is the work of Christ. It belongs to the very essence of his messianic mission.

Jesus spoke of it himself. In the parable of the Good Shepherd, for example, he said, "I have come that they (the sheep) may have life and have it to the full" (Jn 10:10). He is referring to the abundance of new life which is a sharing in the life of God himself.

Again in this way the newness of the humanity of Christ is realized in man as being a new creation.

3. That is what Jesus says in figurative but evocative language in his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar. "'If you only knew the gift of God and who it is who is saying to you "Give me to drink," you would have been the one to ask and he would have given you living water.' The woman said to him, 'Sir, you have no means of reaching down and the well is deep, how could you get this living water?' Jesus replied: 'Whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again; but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give, will never be thirsty again. The water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside him welling up to eternal life'" (Jn 4:10-14).

4. Jesus also repeated this truth in similar words to the crowd, when he was teaching them during the feast of Tabernacles. "Whoever is thirsty, let him come to me and let whoever believes in me come and drink. As Scripture says, from his breast shall flow a river of living water" (Jn 7:37-38). Rivers of living water are an image of the new life in which men share by virtue of the death of Christ on the cross. The tradition of the Fathers and the liturgy understand in the same sense the text of John which stated that from the side (the heart) of Christ, after his death on the cross there came forth blood and water when a Roman soldier struck his side (cf. Jn 19:34).

5. According to an interpretation which is dear to many of the oriental Fathers and now accepted by different exegetes, rivers of living water shall also flow from the breast of the man who drinks the water of the truth and grace of Christ. "From the breast" means from the heart. A new heart is created within man as the prophets announced very clearly, especially Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

In Jeremiah we read: "This will be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel when those days arrive, says the Lord. I will plant my law and write it in their hearts. Then I will be their God and they shall be my people" (Jer 31:33). Ezekiel states even more explicitly: "I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from you and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you and make you live according to my precepts and make you observe and keep my laws" (Ez 36:26-27).

It is a question therefore of a profound spiritual transformation which God himself works within man by means of "the breath of his Spirit" (cf. Ez 36:26). The rivers of living water of which Jesus spoke mean the source of a new life which is life in the spirit and in truth, a life worthy of "true adorers of the Father" (Jn 4:23-24).

6. The writings of the apostles, and in particular the letters of St. Paul, abound in texts on this subject. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old creation has passed away, behold the new has come" (2 Cor 5:17). The fruit of the redemption wrought by Christ is precisely this newness of life. "You have put off the old nature with its practices and you have put on the new nature which is being renewed in knowledge of God after the image of its Creator" (Col 3:9-10). The old nature is the one subjected to sin while the new nature is the one which, thanks to Christ, recovers its original dignity of being made in the image and likeness of its creator (Col 3:9-10). Hence this energetic exhortation of the Apostle to overcome everything in each one of us which is sin and the inheritance of sin: "But now you, of all people, must give up all these things: getting angry, being bad-tempered, spitefulness, abusive language and dirty talk, and never tell each other lies..." (Col 3:8-9).

7. A similar exhortation is found in the Letter to the Ephesians: "You must give up your old way of life, you must put aside your old self which gets corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God's way in the goodness and holiness of the truth" (Eph 4:22-24). "We are in fact his work, created in Christ Jesus to live a holy life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it" (Eph 2:10).

8. Redemption is therefore the new creation in Christ. It is a gift of God - grace - and at the same time it implies a call directed to man. Man must cooperate with the work of spiritual liberation accomplished in him by God by means of Christ. It is true that "through this grace you have been saved through faith, not by anything of your own but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit" (Eph 2:8). Certainly man cannot attribute to himself salvation, that saving liberation which is a gift of God in Christ. Yet at the same time one must see in these gifts the origin of a constant exhortation to act in such a way as to be worthy of such a gift. The full picture of the saving liberation of man involves a profound awareness of the gift of God contained in the cross of Christ and in his redeeming resurrection. At the same time, it involves an awareness of one's own responsibility for that gift: an awareness of the moral and spiritual commitments involved. Here we touch upon the roots of what we can call "the ethos of redemption."

9. The redemption accomplished by Christ, which acts with the power of his Spirit of Truth (the Spirit of the Father and of the Son) has a personal dimension which is directed to each individual. At the same time, it has an inter-human and social, a communitarian and universal dimension.

This is a subject which we see developed in the Letter to the Ephesians where the reconciliation of the two "parts" of humanity in Christ is described: that is, of Israel, the chosen people of the old covenant, and of all the other peoples of the earth: "He [Christ] is the peace between us and has made the two into one and broken down the barriers which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in his own person the hostility caused by the rules and decrees of the law. This was to create one single new man in himself out of the two [races of men] and by restoring peace through the cross, to unite them both in a single body and reconcile them with God. In his own person he destroyed hostility" (Eph 2:14-16).

10. That, then, is the definitive dimension of the new creation and of the newness of life in Christ: liberation from division, the breaking down of barriers which separate Israel from the others. In Christ, all people are the chosen people, because in Christ man is chosen. Everyone without exception or difference is reconciled with God and, as a consequence, called to share in the eternal promise of salvation and of life. The whole of humanity is created anew as a "new man" in God's way in the goodness and holiness of the truth" (Eph 4:24). Reconciliation of all with God through Christ must become the reconciliation of all among themselves as a communitarian and universal dimension of redemption, the full expression of the "ethos of redemption."


After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di lingua francese 

JE SUIS HEUREUX d’accueillir à cette audience un pèlerinage œcuménique d’Athènes, organisé par les Sœurs de la Pammacaristos. Que la Mère du Seigneur vous accompagne sur votre route et vous fortifie dans la foi et l’amour de son Fils! 

* * *

JE SALUE affectueusement le groupe de personnes handicapées venu de Vaux-sur-Seine en France; je prie pour que le Christ Sauveur vous aide à faire face à vos difficultés et soulage vos souffrances.

* * *

J’ADRESSE AUSSI mes encouragements aux Religieuses Dominicaines du Canada. Je leur souhaite de vivre leur consécration et leur apostolat avec l’aide de Marie et avec la générosité qui fut celle de la Servante du Seigneur.

A toutes les personnes de langue française, les jeunes et les aînés, je dis mes vœux cordiaux. Je leur donne bien volontiers ma Bénédiction Apostolique. 

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I AM PLEASED to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those who have come to Rome for the close of the Marian Year.

I extend my cordial greetings to the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, who are celebrating the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of their Foundress. Dear Sisters, may the example of Mary inspire you to be open to the word of God and as faithful in serving him as she was.

* * *

TO THE PHILIPPINE pilgrims from the Diocese of Legazpi I express my best wishes that your visit to Rome on this occasion may strengthen you in your faith and Christian life. I also greet the Nigerian pilgrims from Bendel State. On all the English-speaking visitors I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

Ai numerosi pellegrini di lingua tedesca 

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

UNSERE ERLÖSUNG in Jesus Christus kennt auch nicht nur eine persönlich-individuelle Dimension, sondern sie ist endgültig zwischenmenschlich, sozial und universal angelegt. Es gibt keine Trennung mehr zwischen Völkern, Geschlechtern und Gruppen. ” Denn er (Christus) ist unser Friede “.  Ja, mögen wir Christus wirklich immer mehr zu unserem Frieden werden lassen, in unserem Herzen, in unseren Familien, unter uns Christen und auf unserer weiten und schönen Welt.

Mit diesen Ausführungen über unseren Glauben grüße ich alle deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher. Ich wünsche euch einen frohen und bereichernden Romaufenthalt und erteile euch und euren Lieben in der Heimt für Gottes steten Schutz und Beistand von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai numerosi fedeli di espressione spagnola 

TRAS LA REFLEXIÓN sobre los contenidos de nuestra fe, deseo ahora saludar cordialmente a los peregrinos y visitantes procedentes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España.

En particular, saludo a los neosacerdotes de la diócesis de Cartagena -Murcia y a las Religiosas de la Sagrada Familia de Urgel. A todos aliento a una entrega generosa e ilusionada a los ideales de vocacion. 

* * * 

IGUALMENTE, SALUDO a las peregrinaciones procedentes de Argentina, Barcelona, Gerona, Bilbao, Madrid y Córdoba. A todos bendigo de corazón. 

Ai fedeli polacchi 

SERDECZNIE POZDRAWIAM wszystkich pielgrzymów obecnych na tej audiencji, w szczególności grupy, które po kolei wymienię: pielgrzymkę z sanktuarium Krzyża Swiętego - Kraków Mogiła; Teatr Słowa pod Krzyżem; pielgrzymkę Przyjaciół Seminarium Warszawskiego; młodzież z parafii św. Andrzeja Boboli z Warszawy, Księża jezuici, na pięćdziesięciolecie kanonizacji; pielgrzymkę młodzieżową z parafii św. Wawrzyńca z Sochaczewa koło Warszawy; pielgrzymkę wspólnoty “Swiatło-Zycie” od księży zmartwychwstańców z Warszawy; również z Warszawy, pielgrzymkę Przymierza Rodzin z parafii Sw. Krzyża, księża misjonarze; z parafii św. Marii Magdaleny z Tych, diecezja katowicka; z diecezji lubelskiej - pielgrzymkę z parafii Wniebowzięcia Najświętszej Maryi Panny z Kraśnika; z diecezji chełmińskiej - pielgrzymkę duszpasterstwa akademickiego z Gdyni, parafia Najświętszego Serca Pana Jezusa; z diecezji siedleckiej, pielgrzymkę z parafii św. Antoniego z Wandowa; z diecezji warmińskiej, pielgrzymów z parafii św. Józefa - Olsztyn; również pielgrzymów z parafii Matki Bożej Różańcowej z Olsztyna; z parafii bł. Brata Alberta - Szczecin; z dekanatu Police - diecezja szczecińsko-kamieńska; z parafii Najświętszego Serca Pana Jezusa, Bytom - księża zmartwychwstańcy; chór dziewczęcy “Canzona” z Murowanej Gośliny, archidiecezja poznańska; z parafii Wniebowzięcia Matki Bożej, Szczecin-Dąbie; współpracowników księży pallotynów z całej Polski; Polski Związek Katolicko-Społeczny z Lublina; grupę nauczycieli z Warszawy; również grupę nauczycieli z Poznania; duszpasterstwo akademickie z Rzeszowa; grupę Przyjazńi Polsko-Włoskiej z Łodzi; prócz tego uczestników grup turystycznych Orbisu, PKS z Warszawy i Turysty. 

Ad un gruppo di pellegrini giapponesi 

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

CARISSIMI TERZIARI francescani e voi tutti giovani pieni di vitalità, vi saluto cordialmente.

In questi giorni voi sicuramente avete goduto della esperienza del pellegrinaggio, e avete approfondito la conoscenza nel campo delle vostre attività.

Ora desidero che il frutto di questi giorni giovi ancor più a voi stessi e ai vostri connazionali.

Con questo augurio vi benedico volentieri.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! 

Ai giovani 

ED ORA RIVOLGO una parola di saluto e di augurio a voi, giovani, che siete qui presenti per manifestare la vostra testimonianza di fede cristiana e per essere incoraggiati a crescere in essa.

Carissimi, vi accolgo con gioia e, mentre assicuro il mio particolare ricordo nella preghiera, perché ciascuno di voi sappia scorgere i segni della Provvidenza in ogni circostanza della vita quotidiana, vi invito ad essere testimoni convinti della lieta e buona verità evangelica, nutrendovi della Parola di Dio e del Cibo Eucaristico, che dona la vita divina e la forza di portare agli altri la novità e la pienezza di un’esistenza redenta.

La Vergine Santa, che nulla antepose all’amore del Signore e divenne la Madre della Vita, sostenga la vostra fedeltà ai propositi di bene, da cui siete animati, ed ottenga per voi la grazia di aderire con tutto il cuore a Cristo, servendolo nei fratelli.

Vi sono spiritualmente vicino con la Benedizione Apostolica. 

Agli ammalati

SALUTO VOI, cari ammalati, a cui ricordo che il Redentore è vostro conforto e vostra consolazione; in ogni circostanza Egli è il Dio vicino, che santifica il soffrire, e che lenisce le vostre ferite fisiche e morali, rendendole luminose come le stigmate della sua Risurrezione.

La Vergine Maria, “Salute degli infermi”, vi assista con la sua materna sollecitudine, vi sia di sostegno la mia Apostolica Benedizione che imparto a voi ed a quanti vi sono cari. 

Agli sposi novelli 

GIUNGA INFINE la mia parola di saluto e di benvenuto a voi, sposi novelli. Carissimi, all’augurio di una vita familiare gioiosa e serena unisco l’esortazione a vivere il vostro reciproco amore, reso santo dal sacramento del matrimonio, per una costante crescita nella carità di Cristo e per contribuire all’edificazione della Chiesa.

Mediante Maria, che non delude quanti a Lei si affidano, ponete quotidianamente la vostra esistenza nelle mani provvide di Dio.

Vi accompagno con la mia Benedizione.

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