Tuesday, 26 December 2006

We still need a Saviour!

What a tremendous message the Holy Father gave before giving the great blessing Urbi et Orbi, to the City of Rome and to the World, yesterday. It just needs to be read. To read the full version, go here. It shows how he's got his finger on the pulse of the New Evangelisation. Have a look:

But does a "Saviour" still have any value and meaning for the men and women of the third millennium ? Is a "Saviour" still needed by a humanity which has reached the moon and Mars and is prepared to conquer the universe; for a humanity which knows no limits in its pursuit of nature’s secrets and which has succeeded even in deciphering the marvellous codes of the human genome? Is a Saviour needed by a humanity which has invented interactive communication, which navigates in the virtual ocean of the internet and, thanks to the most advanced modern communications technologies, has now made the Earth, our great common home, a global village? This humanity of the twenty-first century appears as a sure and self-sufficient master of its own destiny, the avid proponent of uncontested triumphs.

It isn't that technological advance or scientific insights are a barrier to evangelisation, though you have to be prepared to be able to 'give an account of the hope that is in you' (I Peter 3.15). It is the life which technological advance has produced which has caused people to think that they no longer need a Saviour. The safe, comfortable, every bodily comfort provided for environment which we have created leads most people to the false sense of security that they are self-sufficient and certainly don't need a God, never mind a Saviour. They may say they believe in God, while not being religious - but actually they believe (faith shown in action) in shopping. Let's get this inconvenient religious feast of Christmas out of the way, so the shops can open again, the great basilicas of consumer religion. Indeed the religious feast of Christmas has become a mere focus, for most people, for consumer frenzy - leading up to Christmas with extravagant present buying, food shopping and alcholic consumption, getting over Christmas with shops opening at 5am on St Stephen's Day to flog off the tawdry goods nobody wanted before Christmas. The Saviour has hardly had time to be born...

But the comfortable existence that we experience in the western world, the product of technological and economic advance, has not removed the human need for a Saviour. Consumerism may anaesthetise our feeling of sin, and weakness, and vulnerability, but just look around and you will easily see the need for the Saviour is greater than ever. All this consumer happiness...and yet drug use is endemic, the rate of suicide among the young grows year on year show that the happiness is only skin deep. People giving themselves over to relationships and sexual expression - and young people doing this at an age when they don't have the personal maturity to deal with it - is a symptom of the search for fulfilment in love, but so often ends in a broken heart and the growth of mistrust.
People continue to die of hunger and thirst, disease and poverty, in this age of plenty and of unbridled consumerism. Some people remain enslaved, exploited and stripped of their dignity; others are victims of racial and religious hatred, hampered by intolerance and discrimination, and by political interference and physical or moral coercion with regard to the free profession of their faith. Others see their own bodies and those of their dear ones, particularly their children, maimed by weaponry, by terrorism and by all sorts of violence, at a time when everyone invokes and acclaims progress, solidarity and peace for all. And what of those who, bereft of hope, are forced to leave their homes and countries in order to find humane living conditions elsewhere? How can we help those who are misled by facile prophets of happiness, those who struggle with relationships and are incapable of accepting responsibility for their present and future, those who are trapped in the tunnel of loneliness and who often end up enslaved to alcohol or drugs? What are we to think of those who choose death in the belief that they are celebrating life?

That last question is really chilling for me: "What are we to think of those who choose death in the belief that they are celebrating life?" That is a question which should cause us sleepless nights, a question which should get us dedicating ourselves to the New Evangelisation with all ourlives. We cannot be content to sit around and watch people around us choosingthe culture of death - and not just in its extreme forms of abortion,euthanasia, suicide, terrorism but even in its more pathetic form of throwing your life into the consumer culture - when we have the message of life. This is why the message that a Saviour has been born for us is more necessary thanever.

Today "our Saviour is born to the world", for he knows that even today we need him. Despite humanity’s many advances, man has always been the same: a freedom poised between good and evil, between life and death. It is there, in the very depths of his being, in what the Bible calls his "heart", that man always needs to be "saved". And, in this post-modern age, perhaps he needs a Saviour all the more, since the society in which he lives has become more complex and the threats to his personal and moral integrity have become more insidious. Who can defend him, if not the One who loves him to the point of sacrificing on the Cross his only-begotten Son as the Saviour of the world?


John said...

A very sharp message from the Holy Father. It makes one realise the scale of the task that we, the Church, is charged with in the New Evangelisation of this third millenium.

Mary Jones said...

I havent read the Holy Father's message yet,but your comment was great anyway. I did watch mid-night Mass on t.v. and his homily then had a message for us all.The same message for every day.It is simple, but I keep forgetting !

Margaret Sofianos said...

Dear Father Julian,
I am looking for some information regarding Maryvale Institute, I noticed you have a position there. Would you help ease my mind about it, since I am overseas and have no real way to verify it's reputation. Thank You

Fr Julian Green said...

The Maryvale Institute is at the forefront of the new catechetical movement. It has been recognised by Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna as one of the foremost centres of catechetical formation in the world (together with Steubenville in USA and Notre Dame de Vie in France). I can recommend it unreservedly - though I am biased as I teach there.