I Am With You Always
Excerpts from the Address of John Paul II to the Bishops Of India on their Ad Limina visit - Thursday, 3 July 2003

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To bear witness to Jesus Christ is "the supreme service which the Church offers to the peoples of Asia" (Ecclesia in Asia, 20). Living with many people who do not know Christ convinces us ever more of the need for the missionary apostolate. The radical newness of life brought by Christ and lived by his followers awakens in us the urgency of missionary activity (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 7). This demands an explicit proclamation of Jesus as Lord: a bold testimony founded on his command - "go and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19) and sustained by his promise - "I am with you always" (Mt 28:20). Indeed it is in fidelity to the threefold mission of Christ as Priest, Prophet and King that all Christians, in keeping with their baptismal dignity, have a right and duty to participate actively in the missionary endeavours of the Church (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 71).

A correct understanding of the relationship between culture and Christian faith is vital for effective evangelization. On your own Indian subcontinent you are faced with cultures rich in religious and philosophical traditions. Within this context, we see how absolutely essential is the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God. It is in this understanding of Christ’s uniqueness as the second person of the Blessed Trinity, fully God and fully man, that our faith must be preached and embraced. Any theology of mission that omits the call to a radical conversion to Christ and denies the cultural transformation which such conversion will entail necessarily misrepresents the reality of our faith, which is always a new beginning in the life of him who alone is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6).

In this regard, we reaffirm that interreligious dialogue does not replace the missio ad gentes but rather forms a part of it (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, 2). Similarly, it must be noted that relativist explanations of religious pluralism, which state that the Christian faith is of no different value than any other belief, in fact empty Christianity of its defining Christological heart: faith alienated from our Lord Jesus, as the only Saviour, is no longer Christian, no longer theological faith. An even greater misrepresentation of our faith occurs when relativism leads to syncretism: an artificial "spiritual construct", that manipulates and consequently distorts the essential, objective, revelatory nature of Christianity. That which renders the Church missionary by her very nature is precisely the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God (cf. Dei Verbum, 2). This is the foundation of our faith. It is this which makes Christian witness credible. With joy and humility we must welcome the duty that "we, who have received the grace of believing in Christ, the revealer of the Father and the Saviour of the world, have to show to what depths the relationship with Christ can lead" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 33).

Published on July 3, 2003 by LEAP OF FAITH- www.faithleap.org


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