The Pope said this today when he dedicated the weekly general audience to another installment in his ongoing reflection on the life and theology of St. Paul.
After a consideration of how the Apostle's interior freedom hinged on his faith in the resurrection of the dead to life in Christ, the Holy Father considered what the saint's teaching encourages for Christians of the 21st century.
"The first attitude [for Christians]," he said, "is the certainty that Jesus has risen, is with the Father, and because of that, is with us forever. […] Because of this, we are secure and free of fear. This was an essential effect of Christian preaching. Fear of spirits and gods was spread throughout the entire ancient world. And today as well, missionaries find -- together with so many good elements in natural religions -- the fear of spirits and the ill-fated powers that threaten us. Christ is alive; he has overcome death and has overcome all these powers. With this certainty, with this freedom, with this joy, we live. This is the first element of our living directed to the future."
The second attitude for faith-filled Christians is the certainty that Christ "is with me," the Pontiff continued.
"And that in Christ the future world has already begun -- this also gives the certainty of hope," he said. "The future is not a darkness in which no one gets one's bearings. It is not like that. Without Christ, also for the world today, the future is dark; there is fear of the future -- a lot of fear of the future. The Christian knows that the light of Christ is stronger and because of this, lives in a hope that is not vague, in a hope that gives certainty and courage to face the future."
But this certainty, Benedict XVI affirmed in noting the third attitude, in no way justifies an escape from responsibilities in the present life.
"We don't live as if good and evil were the same, because God only can be merciful," he explained. "This would be a deceit. In truth, we live with a great responsibility. We have talents, we have to work so this world opens itself to Christ, so that it is renewed. But even working and knowing in our responsibility that God is a true judge, we are also sure that he is a good judge. We know his face -- the face of the risen Christ, of Christ crucified for us. Therefore we can we sure of his goodness and continue forward with great courage."
Praying for the end
The Pope concluded the audience address with a reflection on a prayer that Paul taught: "Maranà, thà, which literally means, 'Our Lord, come!'"
"Can we also pray like this?" the Holy Father asked. "It seems to me that for us today, in our lives, in our world, it is difficult to sincerely pray so that this world perishes, so that the New Jerusalem comes, so that the final judgment and Christ the judge come."
But, he contended, there is a way in which modern Christians can join with their first predecessors in saying "Come, Lord Jesus."
"Certainly, we don't want the end of the world to come now," the Bishop of Rome said. "But, on the other hand, we want this unjust world to end. We also want the world to be deeply changed, the civilization of love to begin, [we want] a world of justice and peace, without violence, without hunger, to arrive. We all want this -- and how can it happen without the presence of Christ? Without the presence of Christ, a just and renewed world will never really arrive."
Therefore, the Pope added, "though in another way, totally and deeply, we too can and should say, with great urgency and in the circumstances of our time, Come, Lord! Come to your world, in the way that you know.
"Come where there is injustice and violence. Come to the refugee camps, in Darfur and in North Kivu, in so many places in the world. Come where drugs dominate. Come, too, among those rich people who have forgotten you and who live only for themselves. Come where you are not known.
"Come to your world and renew the world of today."