Jesus Christ at the center of Christian life and evangelization

Francis stressed the centrality of Christ in Christian life and mission. It is up to Christians to know, love and follow him.

Ramiro Pellitero-September 1, 2017-Reading time: 9 minutes
Pantocrator, apse mosaic in the cathedral of Cafalù, Sicily.

In its apostolic and programmatic exhortation Evangelii gaudium Pope Francis points out: "The risen and glorious Christ is the deepest source of our hope. His resurrection is not something of the past; it involves a force of life that has penetrated the world. [This is the power of the resurrection, and every evangelizer is an instrument of this dynamism. (EG, nn. 275-276). It is worth asking what kind of force this force is, how it translates into Christian life and how it influences evangelization. Joseph Ratzinger, towards the end of the section he devotes to the Resurrection in Jesus of NazarethThe author observes that it is not simply a matter of the reanimation of a corpse, nor of the appearance of a ghost or a spirit coming from the world of the dead. On the other hand, the encounters of the risen Jesus with his disciples are not phenomena of collective mysticism (cf. Jesus of Nazareth, IIRome-Madrid 2011, pp. 316 ff).

The Resurrection - the now Pope emeritus maintains - is a event real good, which happens in history and at the same time transcends history. It supposes a qualitative or ontological leap, a new dimension of human life, since a human body is transformed into a "cosmic body", as a place where people enter into communion with God and with each other, forming the mystery of the "cosmic body". the Church. Although the resurrection was not contemplated by any human being (it was not possible), the risen Christ was seen by a multitude of witnesses. At the same time the resurrection is an event discreetIt does not impose itself, but wants to reach people through the faith of the disciples and their witness, in such a way that it will inspire faith in others in the course of time.

The Mystery of Christ is the center of Christian life and of the Church. In its relationship with us, this center could be described by tracing the framework of the salvific plan of the Trinity as an ellipse and in its interior two mutually attracting foci: the Resurrection and the Eucharist. Attracted by these two foci, we can live with capital letters, extending, thanks to the mystery of the Church, the mystery of Christ to all human realities, for in him we Christians move and exist (cf. Acts 17:28).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (cf. nos. 638-655) points out that the Resurrection is the work of the Most Holy Trinity, as a confirmation of all that Christ did and taught. It opens us to a new life, that of the children of God, and is the beginning and source of our future resurrection. 

All of this has to do with the power of the Eucharist, which gives us the life of the risen Christ, unites us in the Church as a historical subject. "bearer of Christ's integral vision of the world." (in the expression of R. Guardini), of their feelings and attitudes. The Eucharist nurtures the development and exercise of the priestly character which we receive at baptism and which configures us as mediators between God and mankind. 

Hence the need to be aware of the predilection that God has shown us. And that this gratitude be translated into our correspondence of love for the Trinity and active participation in evangelization. 

The risen Christ lives in Christians

Christ is at the center of the Christian life, which is life in Ecclesiathe family of God. The Church is, in fact, the "extension" or continuation of the action of the risen Christ, thanks to the anointing of Christians by the Holy Spirit, according to the dimensions of time and space, of epochs and cultures. 

According to St. Paul, God the Father purposed to recapitulate all things in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10; cf. Acts 3:21). For this reason he chose us in him (cf. Eph 1:4), he included us in the plan of the risen Christ as the final and definitive stage of salvation, out of love for him and for us.

Christ present in Christiansis the title of a homily delivered by St. Josemaría (cf. It is Christ who passes102-116): this is the Church, and in her we are called to be no longer another Christ, but the same Christ. Christ in union with all Christians of all times. The life of Christ is our life, St. Josemaría affirms (no. 103). 

The risen Christ is the alpha and the omega, one might say, the origin of everything and the final point of evolution and of the transformation of the world; and not by the mere intrinsic dynamics of material creation or of the human spirit (Christ is not the fruit of evolution or of human progress), but by the attractive force of the Cross and of the Resurrection (cf. Jn 12:32). This does not mean that Christ despises or forgets our collaboration. On the contrary, he counts on it, that of each one of us and especially of those who, through baptism and thanks to the Holy Spirit, are his members. We are all called to collaborate in this "attraction" that Christ exercises over all things.

Jesus Christ, the center of Christian life

We Christians collaborate in that immense task-to live the life of Christ in the world-which has its center in the Resurrection and is made possible by the Eucharist. We do so with the foundation of the life of grace. And the Church desires that we do so in the most conscious and fullest way possible, starting from our encounter with Christ (cf. St. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, "The Life of the Eucharist"). Novo millennio ineunte4 ff.) by contemplation of his "mysteries" in prayer, by progressive identification with him through our participation in the Eucharist, and by the service we render to others as a consequence. 

To this we are called, each one of the Christian faithful, according to our condition and gifts in the Church and in the world. We try to live the love of the now glorious Heart of the Lord, who continues to have a predilection for the weakest and identifies himself with them (cf. Mt 25:35 ff.). This means that our identification with Christ The first step is to "identify" Him in those most in need, to draw close to them, to serve Him in them, as Pope Francis emphasizes (cf. EG, n. 270).

At the same time, contemplation of Christ and life with Him is necessary for our service to others to be constantly and effectively Christian, that is, fully human in the measure of Christ: "Only if we look at and contemplate the Heart of Christ, will we succeed in freeing our own heart from hatred and indifference; only in this way will we know how to react in a Christian way to the suffering of others, to pain".says St. Josemaría (homily of St. Josemaría). "The heart of Christ, peace of Christians."in It is Christ who passes, n. 166).

The resurrection of the Lord is sacramentally relived in the most important liturgical celebration: the Easter Vigil. The structure of the celebration, with its characteristic elements (such as the rite of the skylight, the readings from the Old and New Testament, and the baptismal liturgy), expresses the reality of the Resurrection, its consequences for us, its capacity to change and transform hearts and the whole of creation.

Now, Christ can only be the center of our Christian life if he is our contemporary, and this derives simply from the fact that he now lives with us, or rather we live with him. The contemporaneity with Christ has challenged Christians such as St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Jesus and Søren Kierkegaard. Christ is contemporary to us by his presence, by his closeness, by the Life he gives us to participate in. And Christ's presence with us encompasses diverse and interconnected forms, such as the Church and the Eucharist. We have already seen this. 

According to St. Augustine, Christ also becomes our contemporary when we receive him in those in need (cf. Mt 25:40): "So the Lord was received as a guest, he who came to his own house, and his own did not receive him; but to those who received him, he gives power to become children of God, adopting the servants and making them brothers, redeeming the captives and making them joint-heirs. But let none of you say, 'Blessed are those who were able to receive the Lord into their own home. Do not be sorry, do not complain because you were born at a time when you can no longer see the Lord in flesh and blood; this does not deprive you of that honor, for the Lord himself affirms: "As you did it to one of these, my humble brothers, you did it to me". (Sermon 103, 2).

In his message to the participants of the International Symposium on Catechetics, held in July 2017 in Buenos Aires, Pope Francis wrote: "The more Jesus takes the center of our life, the more he makes us come out of ourselves, decenters us and makes us be close to others.". Luis Ladaria -currently Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith- emphasized that Christ is the center of faith because he is the only and definitive mediator of salvation by being the only one who is able to save the world. "faithful witness" (Rev. 1:5) of the love of God the Father. Christian faith is faith in this love, in its efficacious power, in its capacity to transform the world and dominate time. The concrete love of God that allows itself to be seen and touched in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. And it comes to us thanks to the fact that we are anointed by the Holy Spirit since our baptism.

Christ's humanity "enlarged" in our humanity by the Holy Spirit - the Church - is the universal sacrament of salvationThe Church is the sign and instrument of his divinity and of the salvation he brings with him (cf. Lumen gentium, nn. 1, 9, 48 and 59). This is one of the principal meanings of the terminology "Mystery of Christ": the salvific plan of the Triune God, made visible and operative in the Church, beginning with the incarnation of the Word through the action of the Holy Spirit. Such is the context in which we are called to relive the "mysteries"-now in the plural-of the life of Christ, many of which we contemplate in the recitation of the rosary, as intensive moments of that one "Mystery" or "sacrament" of salvation.

In the supreme sense, Christ is the only and definitive mediator of salvation. And derivatively, the Church is the only mediator, also in a profound sense, of salvation. No other way by which men can eventually come to God is independent of Christ and the Church (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "The Church is the only mediator, also in a profound sense, of salvation. Dominus Iesus 2000). This helps to discern the different values of religions and to dialogue with them, based on Christian identity.

Like all the "mysteries" of Christ's life - and in this case in a central way with respect to them - that of the Resurrection is mystery of revelation, redemption and recapitulation. These three aspects can be seen in parallel with the three dimensions of the three-fold munus of Christ: prophetic, priestly and royal). It reveals to us the Father's trustworthy and merciful love. It redeems us from sin and eternal death, and makes us free and capable of transforming cultures. It resumes us under Christ, Head of the Church and of the world, and makes us participate in his kingship, whose central content is the offering to God and service to others. 

Christ at the center of evangelization

The centrality of the Risen Christ in Christian life is prolonged and completed by his centrality in evangelization. Christ is the center of the Church's mission in all its forms: proclamation of the faith, celebration of the sacraments, Christian existence as a life of service to people and the world, centered on charity. 

In the education of the faith this centrality of Christ (let's emphasize it again: from the Complete mystery of Christ) is manifested both in the contents and in the methods, if one can speak in this way, since the two spheres are not completely separable.

The Christocentrism of the Christian faith is -as we are seeing- a trinitarian christocentrismChrist could not be the center if not in the context of the saving action of the Triune God. This has important consequences for the education of the faith. This is pointed out by specialists such as Cesare Bissoli.

At a time of fragility in the traditional forms of faith transmission, the attention to the total mystery of Christ and the personal encounter with him contributes not only to consolidating the foundations of faith, but also to strengthening the foundations of human values and the meaning of life. This has been emphasized by the Popes and has been increasingly taught by the Church's magisterium since the Second Vatican Council.

The mystery of Christ is not only criteria target for the education of the faith (as the center of the contents of the faith), but also interpretive criterion (it is the center that illuminates all the other mysteries, truths or aspects of faith, and is even the center of the meaning of history and of all events). 

Christ is also the at the heart of the spirituality and formation of educatorsThey are to be found only in personal communion with Christ. Christ is the center of their life, of their reflection and of the communication of their faith, which begins with the witness of their personal encounter with Christ. 

Since catechesis has not only theological but also anthropological and didactic dimensions, educators will have to discover the centrality of Christ in order to enlighten their students. aspects of the Christian message The most difficult to explain at the present time (such as the many references to eschatology and morality), as well as the glimpses of beauty, truth and goodness that emanate from the human values nobles. 

From the point of view of method, it has been pointed out that Christocentrism in the education of the faith can take two paths: one path more ontological (exposing the faith in the light of the revelation of Christ) or a more phenomenal (to expose the faith starting from the experience of Jesus himself, and from there to deepen the mystery of God and man), this second one more biblical. 

All of this does not oppose, but rather asks that the mystery of Christ illuminate the experiences We want them to challenge our way of understanding and transmitting the mystery of Christ. 

On the whole, a Christocentric education requires a pedagogical itinerary, This implies that it should be gradual. This, it is important to insist, begins with the witness that the educator or catechist must give to Christ in the first person, first of all with his or her life and then with the reasons (arguments) for his or her hope. In this way he or she will be able to make those entrusted to him or her a witness to the Lord.

In his first homily this year at Santa Marta (9-I-2017), Francis stressed the centrality of Christ in our life and in our Christian mission. It is up to us meet him -through prayer and the Gospel, worship him -in unity with God the Father and the Holy Spirit- and follow him at -This implies participating in the evangelizing mission of the Church, the family of Christ to which we belong, by placing it at the center of our Christian life, beginning with the Eucharist, even in ordinary circumstances.

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