During Mass October 16th in the Vatican Basilica, celebrated to mark the end of an international meeting on new evangelization organised by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, Benedict XVI announced that he was calling a forthcoming “Year of Faith”.
The Year will begin on 11 October 2012, fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and will come to an end on 24 November 2013, Feast of Christ the King. Its aim “is to give renewed energy to the Church’s mission to lead men and women out of the desert in which they so often find themselves, and towards the place of life, towards friendship with Christ Who gives us life in all its fullness”. The Year will likewise be an opportunity “to strengthen our faith in Christ and joyfully to announce Him to the men and women of our time”, the Pope said.
Commenting on this Sunday’s readings, the Holy Father explained that the mission of the Church must be considered in the light of “the theological meaning of history. Epoch-making events, the rise and fall of great powers, all lie under the supreme dominion of God. No earthly power can take His place. The theology of history is an essential aspect of the new evangelization, because the men and women of our time, following the tragic period of the totalitarian empires of the twentieth century, need to rediscover a global vision of the world and history. They need a truly free and peaceful vision, the vision which Vatican Council II transmitted in its documents and which my predecessors, Servant of God Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II, illustrated with their Magisterium”.
“In order to be effective evangelization needs the strength of the Spirit, which enlivens the message and infuses the person who bears it with the ‘full conviction’ of which St. Paul speaks. … New evangelizers are called to be the first to walk along the Path which is Christ, in order to lead others to the beauty of the life-giving Gospel. On this Path we are never alone, but always in company; it is an experience of communion and fraternity which is offered to everyone we meet, bringing them to share in our experience of Christ and His Church. Thus, witness associated with announcement can open the hearts of those who seek the truth, helping them discover the meaning of their own lives”.
Finally the Holy Father turned his attention to the Gospel episode of the tribute to be paid to the emperor. Jesus command to “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”, he said, “is rich in anthropological significance and cannot be reduced only to the political sphere. The Church, then, does not limit herself to reminding men and women of the just distinction between the authority of Caesar and that of God, between the political and religious spheres. The mission of the Church, like that of Christ, is essentially that of speaking about God, evoking His sovereignty, calling everyone – and especially Christians who have lost their identity – of God’s rights over that which belongs to Him: our lives”.