By Christopher Wells
The Preacher to the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, delivered his first Advent Sermon for 2017 on Friday, in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Vatican.
Father Cantalamessa spoke on the topic of “Christ and Creation,” taking as his starting point the Scriptural verse “All things were created through Him and for Him.” “The meditations for Advent this year,” he said, “propose to put the divine-human person of Christ back at the center of the two great components that together constitute ‘reality,’ that is, the cosmos and history, space and time, creation and humanity.”
Christ and the cosmos
With only two sermons scheduled for Advent this year – due to Christmas falling on a Monday – Cantalamessa focused his first homily on the relationship between Christ and the cosmos. While the Scriptures, and most Biblical commentators, emphasize the link between the Incarnation, on the one hand, and sin and redemption on the other, the papal preacher suggested that Christ would have become incarnate in any case, as the “crown of creation,” and that humanity’s need for salvation simply determined the specific character of the Incarnation.
Christ and ecology
Cantalamessa also addressed the question of Christ’s place in relation to the questions of “ecology and the preservation of Creation.” He said it is important to focus on the role of the Holy Spirit, and His relation to the Risen Christ. The Holy Spirit, according to Cantalamessa, has the role of “perfecting” creation – “In other words,” he said, “the Holy Spirit is the one who, by his nature, aims to make creation transition from chaos to cosmos, to make the world something beautiful, something ordered and clean…”
Do not be “thieves of resources”
The first Advent Sermon for 2017 concluded on a practical note. “I believe that, yes, Christ plays a decisive role even in the concrete problems of the preservation of creation,” the papal preacher said, “but he functions in an indirect way by operating in human beings and—through them—on creation.” He called on us “not to be thieves of resources, using more than we need and taking them away from those who will come after us.”
With this final, practical exhortation, Fr Cantalamessa recalled his “ultimate purpose” in this year’s Advent Sermons, which he said “is not theoretical but practical.” The issue, he said, above all, “is putting Christ back at the center of our personal lives and our vision of the world and at the center of the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.”