“How do we speak to God in our times? How can we communicate the Gospel to open the way to its salvific truth?” The Holy Father offered an answer to these questions in his catechesis during a general audience, held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
“In Jesus of Nazareth”, the Pope said, “we encounter the face of God, descended from Heaven to immerse Himself in the world of mankind and to teach ‘the art of living’, the road to happiness; to free us from sin and to make us true children of God”.
He continued, “speaking about God means, first and foremost, being clear about what we must bring to the men and women of our time. God has spoken to us, … not an abstract or hypothetical God, but a real God, a God Who exists, Who entered history and remains present in history: the God of Jesus Christ … as a response to the fundamental question of why and how to live. Therefore, speaking about God requires a continual growth in faith, familiarity with Jesus and His Gospel, a profound knowledge of God and strong passion for His plan for salvation, without giving in to the temptations of success. … We must not fear the humility of taking small steps, trusting in the leaven that makes the dough rise slowly and mysteriously. In speaking about God, in the work of evangelization under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must return to the simplicity and essential nature of proclamation: the concrete Good News of God Who cares about us, the love of God which Jesus Christ brought close to us, even unto the Cross, and which in the Resurrection opens us to life without end, to eternal life”.
The Pope explained that for St. Paul, communicating the faith did not mean “showing himself, but rather saying openly and publicly what he had seen and heard in his encounter with Christ, and how much his life had been transformed by that encounter. … The Apostle was not satisfied with merely proclaiming the words, but committed his entire existence to the great work of faith. … To speak about God, we must make space for Him, confident that He acts upon our weakness. We must make space for Him without fear, with simplicity and joy, in the profound conviction that the more we place Him – and not ourselves – at the centre of our lives, the more fruitful our communication will be. … This also holds true for Christian communities. They are called to communicate the transforming action of God’s grace, overcoming individualism, closure, selfishness and indifference, bringing the love of God to daily relationships. We must act to ensure … we always announce Christ, not ourselves”.
“At this point”, the Holy Father continued, we must ask ourselves “how Jesus Christ Himself communicated. Jesus … spoke about His Father (Whom He called ‘Abba’) and about the Kingdom of God, looking with compassion on the discomforts and difficulties of human existence. … From the Gospel we see how Jesus was interested in every human situation He encountered, He immersed Himself in the lives of the men and women of His time, with complete trust in the help of the Father. … In Him, proclamation and life were entwined: Jesus acted and taught, always taking as a starting point His intimate relationship with God the Father. This approach gives fundamental indications to Christians: living in faith and charity is a way of speaking about God in our times, because it demonstrates the credibility of what we say in words through a life lived in Christ. We must take care to grasp the signs of our times, and thereby to identify the potential, the desires and the obstacles we encounter in contemporary culture, in particular the desire for authenticity, the yearning for transcendence, the sensibility for protecting creation. And we must communicate without fear the answer offered by faith in God”.
“Speaking about God, therefore, means enabling others to understand through words and acts that God is not a competitor in our existence but rather its true guarantor, the guarantor of the greatness of the human person. Thus we return to the beginning: speaking about God means communicating, with power and simplicity, through words and the life we lead, that which is essential: the God of Jesus Christ, the God Who showed us a love so great that He took on human flesh, died and rose again for us; the God Who asks us to follow Him and to allow ourselves to be transformed by His immense love in order to renew our lives and our relationships; the God Who gave us the Church, to allow us to journey together and, through the Word and the Sacraments, to renew the entire City of Man so that it might become the City of God”, concluded the Pope.