Jesus, Our Contemporary

Vatican City, 1 March 2012 (VIS) - A congress organised by the Cultural Project Committee of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) was held recently in Rome on the theme: "Jesus, Our Contemporary". For the occasion, Benedict XVI sent a message to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the CEI.

"The name and the message of Jesus of Nazareth", the Pope writes, "frequently arouse interest and exert strong attraction, even among people who do not succeed in adhering to His word of salvation. We are therefore impelled to evoke an increasingly profound and thorough understanding, in ourselves and everywhere, of the real figure of Jesus Christ. This can only spring from the hermeneutic of faith, placed in a fruitful relationship with historical reason. It was for this purpose that I wrote my two books on Jesus of Nazareth".

"On several occasions in the course of my pontificate, I have recalled the need to give priority to opening a pathway to God in human hearts and lives. ... We cannot entrust our lives to an indefinite superior body or to a cosmic force, but to God Whose face as Father has been made familiar by the Son, 'full of grace and truth'. Jesus is the key that opens the door of wisdom and love to us, that dispels our loneliness and keeps hope alive in the face of the mystery of evil and death. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, in Whose name many believers in various countries of the world today still face suffering and persecution, cannot therefore be confined to a distant past but is crucial to our faith today.

"What does it mean", the Pope adds, "to say that Jesus of Nazareth, Who lived between Galilee and Judea two thousand years ago is a 'contemporary' of every man and woman alive today, and in every epoch? Romano Guardini explains it to us in words that remain as timely as when they were written: 'His earthly life entered into eternity and in this way is related to every hour of earthly time, redeemed by His sacrifice'".

"Jesus enters human history forever, where He lives on in all His beauty and power in that frail body which is the Church, ever in need of purification but also full of divine love. To Him she turns in the liturgy, to praise Him and to receive authentic life. The contemporaneity of Jesus is revealed in a special way in the Eucharist, in which He is present with His passion, death and resurrection. It is this that makes the Church contemporaneous with every human being, capable of embracing all people and all epochs because she is guided by the Holy Spirit in order to perpetuate the work of Jesus in history".