Comments on First 100 Pages of Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Ratzinger
For lent I’ve decided to read Joseph Ratzinger’s–now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s–Introduction to Christianity. This season is a time to prepare ourselves to re-encounter the essence of the faith: the proclamation that Jesus Christ is risen! Therefore, I figured, why not go back to the basics? While the book is certainly about the “basics,” it is extraordinarily profound, so I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on some of the Pope Emeritus’ insights.
“I am firmly convinced that a renewal of Christianity must have the courage to see Christ in all of his greatness,” (“Preface,” 29).
- Yes! The renewal of Christianity must involve the preaching of Jesus’ Lordship, which is truly great, truly amazing, truly inspiring. If people don’t understand Jesus’ greatness, if they don’t see Christians who are joyful about Jesus’ greatness, then the Church is missing the point of evangelism.
“What is at stake is the whole structure; it is a question of all or nothing,” (43).
- Today, especially among young people, we are more inclined to see things as “religious v. atheist” rather than as “Catholic v. Protestant.” Doubts about Catholicism are minuscule compared to doubts about faith in general. Interestingly, as the culture becomes more grey, more ambiguous, atheism has risen substantially. This change is a result of the common notion that nothing is stable. I’ve heard it said, “Change is the new norm.” Public opinions shift swiftly, so shouldn’t our “opinions” about religious things do the same? Ratzinger’s book does a great job of answering this fundamental question.
Quoting Marx, “So far philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways; it is necessary to change it,” (63).
- Exactly! The general idea of this citation from Marx is unfailingly true. Our mission as human beings is not simply thought: we are meant to be actors of change. Like St. Paul says, we are to be “ministers of reconciliation.” Such ministers are not arm-chair philosophers. No! They are agents of transformation, pro-claimers of the gospel, witnesses to the Truth, which is also Way and Life. Jesus is both Truth and Way, so we don’t merely know Jesus but rather journey with him on the Way to eternal Life. One detects a certain dynamism here…
“God wishes to approach man only through man; he seeks out man in no other way but in his fellow humanity,” (94).
- Amen! We ought to notice that God chose to save us in incarnate form. Theoretically, in his infinite power and wisdom, he could have made us righteous by some other means, yet he did not. He decided to communicate the good news to us from one human to another. Likewise, WE communicate the good news to OTHERS in a similar fashion–one human to another. If we don’t carry out this ordained task, then we will have failed our Lord in the heat of the battle.
These quotes and comments are just a few among many that I could have selected. I’ll have more coming soon as I progress through the book.
God bless you!
–David J.W. Inczauskis