A lecture on Blessed Pope John Paul II’s first encyclical, Redemptor hominis (1979), given by Father J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P. as part of the St. Catherine of Siena Colloquium on Spirituality at the Dominican House of Studies in 1983. Introduction by the Prior, Fr. Charles Farrell, O.P., and Fr. Hugh Burns, O.P., with a letter of greeting from Augustino Cardinal Casaroli, Secretary of State. The colloquium was entitled: Pope John Paul II and a Spirituality of Human Progress.
The new collect for Blessed Pope John Paul II’s memorial on October 22 makes reference to the title of this first encyclical by way of an allusion (“open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind”), and Pope Benedict XVI referred to this encyclical explicitly at the beatification on May 1, 2011 – “To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man. This was the theme of his first encyclical, and the thread which runs though all the others.”
This revelation of the Father and outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which stamp an indelible seal on the mystery of the Redemption, explain the meaning of the Cross and death of Christ. The God of creation is revealed as the God of redemption, as the God who is “faithful to himself” 56, and faithful to his love for man and the world, which he revealed on the day of creation. His is a love that does not draw back before anything that justice requires in him. Therefore “for our sake (God) made him (the Son) to be sin who knew no sin” 57. If he “made to be sin” him who was without any sin whatever, it was to reveal the love that is always greater than the whole of creation, the love that is he himself, since “God is love”58. Above all, love is greater than sin, than weakness, than the “futility of creation” 59, it is stronger than death; it is a love always ready to raise up and forgive, always ready to go to meet the prodigal son 60, always looking for “the revealing of the sons of God”61, who are called to the glory that is to be revealed” 62. This revelation of love is also described as mercy 63; [Cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theol., III, q. 46, a. 1, ad 3.] and in man’s history this revelation of love and mercy has taken a form and a name: that of Jesus Christ.
“I greet you, America the beautiful!” (Boston, 1979)