In Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” Virgil, the poet’s guide, says that in the highest spheres, “the more they are who say ‘ours.
As Pope Francis points out, a true pastoral and missionary conversion is urgently needed. In order to offer an accurate assessment of the present situation of the Church’s pastoral ministry, and to offer an effective proposal for renewal, it is necessary to consider first of all the pastoral care of Christ, the Good Shepherd. We will take Jesus’ dialogue with the Samaritan woman as our inspiration. We hope to show that for the grace of Christ to illuminate and transform our hearts and societies, we need an evangelizing pastoral care rooted in the truth of love. What was Jesus’ pastoral approach when addressing the Samaritan woman? The Lord “addressed her desire for true love, in order to free her from the darkness in her life and to bring her to the full joy of the Gospel” (Amoris Laetitia, n. 294). In this key passage of St. John’s Gospel, the truth of love is presented as an indispensable element and the guiding thread of Jesus’ pastoral ministry.
The second thesis of the Veritas Amoris Project seeks to explore how Christ brings with him the fulfilled unity of truth and love. If we believe that “only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light” (Gaudium et Spes 22), this applies as well to the truth of love as a key to understanding human life. What the truth of love is all about, takes on light only if we look at Christ. And, at the same time, the mystery of Christ can best be perceived if we start from the truth of love as the key to understanding man, the world and God. To explore this topic, I will first link Christ to the unity of truth and love (1). I will look then for the appropriate vantage point to perceive this unity in his person and work (2). Finally, I will focus on the Gospel of John to show the different ways in which Christ and the truth of love go together, since John has placed special emphasis on this connection (3).
What is our body? Who is our body? In the light of the John Paul II’s Catecheses on human love, one comes to see that the body is the epiphany of our person: made in the image of God, redeemed by Christ and called to find its full meaning in the total gift of self. And, as God never ceases to pour His love unto us, we thus receive, in Christ, a new measure of human love, that we were eternally destined to receive: to be capable of loving one another with the very same love of our Redeemer.
The biological and psychological sciences attest to the existence of difference between male and female. What is needed now is not continually to repeat this as if it were an obvious truism, but a philosophical and theological reflection in order to develop the necessary conceptual tools for demonstrating its anthropological meaning.
The perspective of the truth of love is the key to understanding who human beings are as the image of God in Christ. “He told me everything I have ever done,” says the Samaritan woman after her encounter with him (Jn 4:39). Human beings are called to accept the original love offered by their Creator, a love which in turn demands the gift of themselves to God, and that manifests itself in their relationships with others. Only from this relational vision of the human being can we understand that freedom – so central a concern for the modern age – does not consist in an empty autonomy, but that it is a reality that springs from a gift and is called to fulfill itself in a gift: the gift of self.