Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – In his book “Jesus of Nazareth”, Benedict XVI recalls the original meaning of the word “Gospel”. It is usually translated simply as “good news”. But its significance is deeper. It comes from imperial Rome, where the emperor's words were the announcement of favour and salvation for the people. Then the Holy Father goes on to describe the literary genre of the writings left to us by the apostles John, Matthew, Mark and Luke. If we go back to its original meaning, we find that only the Word of Jesus is truly “gospel”. He who is the Word made flesh, makes the Gospel come alive for us. His persona and presence bring the salvation of God to men.
Christ, the Word of the Father, given to every man, is in search of an answer in order to establish a dialogue of salvation with men. The Book of Revelation reminds us of Christ's attitude towards any man: “Behold: I stand at the door and knock. If hearing my voice, one opens the door, I will come to him and dine with him and he with me” (Rev 3:20). We must lift our prayer that the hearts of all men to be open to God. To the extent that we let him in and eat with us, which is like saying we open ourselves to intimacy, Christ can transform hearts and society itself.
Christ himself is our peace. He became our brother in becoming man, made himself small for us so that we would not be afraid to approach him, and to open the door to receive him. He is to us the saving righteousness of God. The human concept of justice consists in giving to each what is his, but God has a different concept of justice. He consigned his Son to death for us, so that the just died for the sinner.
In our view, the justice of God seems to be unfair, because everyone gets the opposite of what they deserve. The righteous takes the curse of sin upon himself and the sinner receives the blessing due to the righteous. But God has a different concept of justice. Therefore, says Benedict XVI, “Before the justice of the Cross, man may rebel for this reveals how man is not a self-sufficient being, but in need of Another in order to realize himself fully. Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one’s own need – the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship” (Message for Lent 2010).
At Christmas we contemplate the Word that was made flesh. The eternal Word became small, so small as to fit in a manger. He became a child with a face that we see, Jesus of Nazareth (cf. Verbum Domini, 12). “He came among his and his people received him not. But to those who received him he gave power to become children of God” (Jn 1:11-12). Only thanks to divine sonship, we may come to be brothers. Only when there is a Father, there may be brotherhood. Because Christ has made us children, now we can be brothers.
We pray that Mary will teach us to listen to the Word, to keep the Word in our hearts and embody Him, that Christ may be visible in us to our brothers. (Agenzia Fides 29/11/2010)