“Christ embraces everyone (Col 3:11) because he is the truth of God and man in person, the destiny of man’s history.”
When Balthasar turned seventy in 1975 he wrote Katholisch, a short book that was a response to all the friends of different philosophical and theological backgrounds he had made during his fruitful life.2 The book, an expression of friendship, is a simple elucidation of the meaning of the term “catholic,” which aims at presenting what is central about the mystery of the Triune God and the divine economy. At the beginning, Balthasar writes something that will set us on the right direction to ponder what it means that the novelty of the Second Vatican Council resides in offering a re-reading of the Church’s Tradition in light of its catholic form. “Jesus,” Balthasar contends, “must be catholic, otherwise his Church, which follows him and is promised his fullness could not be called Catholic. Being catholic means embracing everything, leaving nothing out.”3 The present essay therefore wishes to ponder the meaning of the christological dimension of catholicity.
Our reflection does not turn to Vatican II as an inspiration for saying something that the council did not claim. It is well known that the council dealt explicitly with ecclesiological and anthropological matters. Yet it is also the case that for the council the reflection on divine revelation (the mysteries of the Church, man, and their relation in the contemporary world) is inseparable from the mystery of Christ and of the Triune God.4 Vatican II indicates very clearly that the Church was not interested in speaking to her members about internal problems. Rather, in a position of listening to the Word (DV, 1), the Church wished to speak of Jesus Christ, of whom she is the sacramental presence (LG, 1; DV, 2–4).5
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