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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

General Audience: the Church on the path to the Kingdom of Heaven

Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father dedicated the catechesis of this morning's general audience to “a fundamental truth that Vatican Council II kept clearly in mind, and which must never be forgotten: the Church is not a static reality, still, an end in itself, but is instead continually in progress through history, towards the final, marvellous destination that is the Kingdom of Heaven, of which the earthly Church is the seed and the beginning”. He continued, “When we face this horizon, we realise that our imagination stops and discovers that it is only just able to intuit the splendour of the mystery that overcomes our senses. And certain questions arise spontaneously in us: when will this final passage take place? What will the new dimension in which the Church enters be like? What will become of humanity? And of the Creation that surrounds us? But these questions are not new; they had already been posed by Jesus' disciples in those times”.

Francis explained that, faced with these questions, the Council Constitution “Gaudium et spes” affirms that “we are unaware of when the earth and humanity will come to an end, and we do not know how the universe will be transformed. Certainly, the appearance of this world, deformed by sin, will pass away. However, we know from Revelation that God prepares a new home and a new land, in which justice will abide, and whose joy will superabundantly satiate all the desires for peace that arise from the heart of man. … We will finally be clothed in joy, peace and God's love, completely and without any limit, face to face with Him”.

In this way, the Pontiff emphasised that it is good to perceive that there is a basic continuity and communion between the Church in Heaven and the Church in her earthly path, without forgetting that we are always invited to offer good works, prayers and the Eucharist to alleviate the suffering of souls that still await endless beatitude. “From a Christian perspective the distinction is no longer between those who are already dead and those who are not, but between those who are with Christ and those who are not. This is the decisive element for our salvation and for our happiness”.

“At the same time, the Sacred Scripture teaches us that the fulfilment of this marvellous plan cannot but affect all that which surrounds us and which emerged from the thought and the heart of God. … What we expect, as the completion of a transformation that is in reality already in process ever since Christ's death and resurrection, is therefore a new creation; it is not, therefore, the annihilation of the cosmos and all that which surrounds us, but rather bringing everything to its fullness of being, of truth, of beauty. This is the plan that God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, has always wished to fulfil, and is fulfilling”. He concluded, “when we think of these stupendous reality that awaits us, we realise the extent to which belonging to the Church is truly a wonderful gift, that leads towards the highest vocation”.

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