Returning to John Paul II

(CNS photo/Tom Tracy) (Nov. 6, 2013)

One of my favorite encyclicals, both for its content and eloquence, is John Paul II's Redemptor Hominis. It is a masterful overview of the meaning of Christ and (re)reading it is a wonderful way to enter into the celebration of Christmas. Here is a favorite passage:

Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer 'fully reveals man to himself'. If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption man becomes newly 'expressed' and, in a way, is newly created. He is newly created! . . . The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly--and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superifical, and even illusory standards and measures of his being--he must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ.

Advertisement

I also like the encyclical's articulation of the Church's mission, an articulation that is broad and ennobling and which needs repeating today: "The Church's fundamental function in every age and particularly in ours is to direct man's gaze, to point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity towards the mystery of God, to help all men to be familiar with the profundity of the Redemption taking place in Christ Jesus."

Click here to read it in full.  

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

A couple gets married in Stockholm, Sweden, in this 2013 file photo. (CNS photo/Fredrik Sandberg, EPA) 
“The right of Catholics to express disagreement with their leaders is a right as old as Peter and Paul.”
The EditorsJuly 16, 2018
A woman who told police that she and her family were from Sudan is taken into custody by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer after arriving in February 2017 by taxi and walking across the U.S.-Canada border into Quebec. (CNS photo/Christinne Muschi, Reuters)
Canada is not innocent when it comes to immigration policies that have the potential to hurt individuals and divide families.
Dean DettloffJuly 13, 2018
In this June 6, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly attends a briefing on this year's hurricane season at the Federal Emergency Management Agency Headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The private letter, sent more than a year ago, may have had changed Mr. Kelly’s mind for a time.
J.D. Long-GarcíaJuly 13, 2018
May the best team win. Actually, may Croatia win, argues Travis Timmons.
Travis Timmons July 13, 2018