Chapter I: From Christ the Evangelizer to the Evangelizing Church
This number lists in brief form the benefits of the salvation that Jesus procured for us. It is the procuring of freedom “and deliverance from all that oppresses man.” This includes deliverance from bodily and spiritual sicknesses. This may not occur every time someone accepts the Good News, but deliverance eventually from these things too is included in the Good News of Jesus, as witnessed by the many physical healings he worked as he went about preaching the Good News. In fact, he claimed these cures as a sign of the coming of his Kingdom (Mt 4:23).
But the biggest liberation is “deliverance from sin and the Evil One.” That is why the driving out of demons constituted a major portion of the miracles that Jesus and his disciples worked (Mk 1:39; 6:13). That is why repentance was the first thing that Jesus asked for from those to whom he preached the Good News (Mk 1:14f), for no one can be delivered from his sins unless he repents of them.
But there is another aspect of the Good News that no. 9 mentions. It is the closeness to God that salvation brings us. This is brought about by Baptism and intensified in Holy Communion and prayer. It will have its fullest development when we come to heaven and see God face to face (cf. 1Jn 3:2). God comes to walk with us again here on earth as he did in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve before the fall (cf. Gen. 3:8).
The number mentions as another benefit of the Good News: “the joy of knowing God and being known by him, of seeing him and of resting trustfully in him.” “Seeing” here does not mean seeing with our physical eyes, for “No one has ever seen God” (1Jn 4:12). But there is a “seeing” in faith, i.e. a certitude about the invisible realities of faith that is stronger than physical seeing because it is based on God’s word, which is more reliable than our senses.
The number goes on to say that Jesus began to acquire this salvation for us during his life and then especially by his death and resurrection. It then speaks about salvation as a physical reality that must be preserved and fostered by mankind until it reaches its fulfillment at the return of Jesus at the end of time. “At the same time, it [i.e. salvation-ed.] must be patiently preserved and fostered through the course of history until it is achieved in its perfect form on the day of Christ’s final coming.” The reality that preserves and fosters Jesus’ salvation through the ages is our Catholic Church. She carries within herself all that Jesus taught and did for us while he walked this earth. She offers it to every new generation, and will do so until the return of her master Jesus Christ on the last day.
Mary, Mother of the Church, make us true missionaries, eager to share our faith with others. Amen.