Summer 1997

Jesus Christ, the One Savior of the World, Yesterday, Today and Forever

Cardinal Marc Ouellet

"Christian faith is a divine virtue, come down from heaven in Jesus Christ, inculturated by the Spirit in Mary and the Church, and made fruitful for God’s ongoing birth into the world."

Twenty-five years ago, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, a group of theologians decided to launch a new Catholic theological review in order to bring about and to sustain theologically the Church renewal proposed by the Council under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Hans Urs von Balthasar, encouraged in part by Adrienne von Speyr, took the initiative and set the tone with the first editorial, “Communio—a Programme.” In this manifesto he delineated the principles, the task, and the requirements of a community of theologians committed to serving God in the spirit of Communio. David Schindler recaptured very well the original spirit of Communio with the title of his recent magnificent book Heart of the World, Center of the Church.1  The spirit of Communio is to share the gift of Jesus Christ, the “heart of the world” from a clear stance at the center of the Church. Balthasar wrote: “From a Christian point of view community can only be striven for because it has already been bestowed by God in Christ and in the infusion of the Holy Spirit.”2 The gift is given. The gift is at work. But to what extent are we aware of being preceded, commissioned, and empowered by the gift of the Son and the Spirit for the mission of Communio?

As a way of celebrating the gift of Jesus Christ, the one Savior of the world, yesterday, today and forever, I have chosen to meditate on Jesus Christ, mediator of the New Covenant, in the spirit of the Letter to the Hebrews, from which the theme of Tertio millennio adventiente is taken (Heb 13:8). We will deal with Jesus’ priestly identity which is linked with his role as the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith, the one “who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection” (Heb 12:12, Jerusalem Bible). Saint Paul exhorts his disciple Timothy in similar terms: “In the presence of God who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach…” (1 Tim 6:13-14). The question I would like to focus on is how this God-man Jesus Christ is the mediator of trinitarian life and the proper response for us to God’s Covenant. How is he the one Savior of the world by being the unique me- diator of the faith without which there is no salvation? Thomas Aquinas defined Christian faith as “inchoatio vitae eternae,” the beginning of eternal life. How is this faith shaped by Jesus Christ and the Spirit in order to be shared by us in the communion of the Church? My reflection will proceed in three steps: 1) A brief look on the situation of the faith in Jesus Christ on the eve of the third millennium; 2) Jesus Christ the one mediator of the New Covenant; 3) The meaning of a trinitarian christology for the New Evangelization.

 

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1. David L. Schindler, Heart of the World, Center of the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996).

2. Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Communio—a Programme,” Communio (1972): 6. (This article was published in English translation in Germany before the founding of the English language edition of Communio in 1974.)