Crossing the Threshold of Hope

Near the end of Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul reiterates the great line of his pontificate, from first to last, “Be not Afraid.” Christianity is the permanent fulfillment of myth or the historical enactment of the myths, such as Perseus and Medusa. He states the reason for his hope —

When, on October 22, 1978, I said the words “Be not afraid!” in St. Peter’s Square, I could not fully know how far they would take me and the entire Church. Their meaning came more from the Holy Spirit, the Consoler promised by the Lord Jesus to His disciples, than from the man who spoke them. Nevertheless, with the passing of the years, I have recalled these words on many occasions. The exhortation “Be not afraid!” should be interpreted as having a very broad meaning. In a certain sense it was an exhortation addressed to all people, an exhortation to conquer fear in the present world situation, as much in the East as in the West, as much in the North as in the South.

Have no fear of that which you yourselves have created, have no fear of all that man has produced, and that every day is becoming more dangerous for him! Finally, have no fear of yourselves!

Why should we have no fear? Because man has been redeemed by God. When pronouncing these words in St. Peter’s Square, I already knew that my first encyclical and my entire papacy would be tied to the truth of the Redemption. In the Redemption we find the most profound basis for the words “Be not afraid!”: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (cf. Jn 3:16). This Son is always present in the history of humanity as Redeemer. The Redemption pervades all of human history, even before Christ, and prepares its eschatological future. It is the light that “shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (cf. Jn 1:5). The power of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection is greater than any evil which man could or should fear.

 This statement for faith and hope is a summary of the message of Redemptor hominis. Such faith is definitive and all embracing; it is empowering and transformative; it is a source of both peace and energy. Christ can regenerate culture, however decadent, through faith (baptism) and hope (penance) and love (Eucharist). Jesus Christ has entrusted this task to the cooperative action of the priesthood and the laity..

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