‘Gospel is about moral order not utopia’ – Peruvian archbishop

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Nuns meditate before the Blessed Sacrament at the IEC chapel, Jan. 25, 2016. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

CEBU City, Jan. 25, 2016 – Christian perfection demanded by the Gospels refers to renewing the moral order and the interior life of a person, not achieving “utopia for some,” a Peruvian archbishop stressed in the inaugural catechesis of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC).

Biblical theologian Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, the Archbishop of Trujillo, reflected on St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, from which the congress theme “Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory” was taken.

God’s plan is for Christ His son “to be announced and presented among the pagans and among the nations,” not to a privileged few, and this knowledge of Christ is a “manifestation of divine glory.”

Not a utopia

“The purpose of evangelism is to make everyone perfect in Christ. The proclamation of the mystery (the Gospel) of Christ has a purpose, which is essentially universal and salvific,” said Vidarte, 67, a Franciscan who had studied at the Biblicum in Jerusalem and the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

But “perfection is not utopia for some,” rather it refers to the moral order or the perfection achieved by those who proclaim the Gospel.

“[Perfection] is directed to the interior renewal of every believer, for all those who put hope in the Lord,” said Vidarte.

Respect for cultural diversity

The Gospel, he pointed out, is intertwined with the Church. In Colossians, the word “saints” refers to believers in general. But the saints attained knowledge of the Gospel by proclamation not through divine revelation alone. Those who proclaim, meanwhile, are servants of both the “mystery” (the Gospel) and the Church, the Peruvian prelate said.

While making all people disciples is the “official responsibility” entrusted to the Church, the Gospel requires evangelization to respect cultural diversity, he emphasized. Unlike Judaism, Christianity no longer required converts to travel to Jerusalem, and instead gathered them in their own lands.

“Nations should not change their socio-cultural identity. It was like that before, and should remain the same now and in the future,” he told some 12,000 delegates at the IEC Pavilion in Cebu City’s John Paul XXIII seminary complex.

Vidarte asked: “Do we deploy our human energies in favor of human beings, especially the most needy? Do we lower ourselves to descend from our position and approach others, especially the neediest? Do we deploy our human energies in favor of our particular diocese and society or do we live enclosed in on ourselves?”

‘Not for the weak’

The proclamation of the Gospel, however, “is not within the reach of one who is weak but one who is sustained by power of Christ.” Strength and energy comes when Christ is at the center of one’s life, added Vidarte.

According to the prelate, tribulations are a necessary battle so that every person may understand the Gospel and then believe and become perfect in Christ.

He said the responsibility for the universality of the Church, through the evangelization of all people, “only strengthens and grows with the Eucharist.”

He reminded the IEC pilgrims of the missionary proclamation in the Gospel of Matthew, where Christ said: “I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

“God is not absent, the Risen Christ with His Spirit cancels all the loneliness of the human heart,” he said. (Felipe Francisco / CBCP News)

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