Evangelization: What is the Kingdom and What Salvation?

In these sections from Evangelii Nuntiandi Pope Paul VI lays out the basic content of evangelization (the proclamation and witness to the good news, the gospel). He saw a trend developing within the Church that reduced the gospel to just another social-political ideology of liberation or just another self-help bromide. Echoing Jacques Maritain and Leon Bloy (that pilgrim of the absolute), he said “it cannot be contained in the simple and restricted dimension of economics, politics, social or cultural life; it must envisage the whole man, in all his aspects, right up to and including his openness to the absolute, even the divine Absolute.” (see §33) As you can see, he would have us open the gospel of Matthew and consider some key passages about “the kingdom” and about “salvation.”

§8. As an evangelizer, Christ first of all proclaims a kingdom, the kingdom of God; and this is so important that, by comparison, everything else becomes “the rest,” which is “given in addition.” (Mt 16:33) Only the kingdom therefore is absolute and it makes everything else relative. The Lord will delight in describing in many ways the happiness of belonging to this kingdom (a paradoxical happiness which is made up of things that the world rejects), (Mt 5:3-12) the demands of the kingdom and its Magna Charta, (Mt 5-7.) the heralds of the kingdom, (Mt 10.) its mysteries, (Mt 13.) its children, (Mt. 18.) the vigilance and fidelity demanded of whoever awaits its definitive coming. (Mt 24-25)

§9. As the kernel and center of His Good News, Christ proclaims salvation, this great gift of God which is liberation from everything that oppresses man but which is above all liberation from sin and the Evil One, in the joy of knowing God and being known by Him, of seeing Him, and of being given over to Him. All of this is begun during the life of Christ and definitively accomplished by His death and resurrection. But it must be patiently carried on during the course of history, in order to be realized fully on the day of the final coming of Christ, whose date is known to no one except the Father. (Mt 24:36; Acts 1:7; 1 Thess 5:1-2)

§10. This kingdom and this salvation, which are the key words of Jesus Christ’s evangelization, are available to every human being as grace and mercy, and yet at the same time each individual must gain them by force – they belong to the violent, says the Lord, (Mt 11:12; Luke 16:16) through toil and suffering, through a life lived according to the Gospel, through abnegation and the cross, through the spirit of the beatitudes. But above all each individual gains them through a total interior renewal which the Gospel calls metanoia; it is a radical conversion, a profound change of mind and heart. (Mt 4:17).

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