Fr. Francesco Pierli MCCJ

The popular view of the missionary was that he would “go forth” to the non-Christian world to gradually include it in a Christianity that would be the only religion of humankind. Today, however, a missionary goes out to recapitulate everything in Christ. To unite peoples, cultures, religions, in the Kingdom of God as announced by Jesus. The characteristic is to “go forth” to perceive the presence of the Holy Spirit in all religions and cultures, to create the fraternity of the Kingdom of the Father of all. At the centre of this new vision is the Spirit of God who is “one”, but “multiple” in God’s manifestations. It is God who guides us to experience the one God in the concrete circumstances in which peoples live, develop their cultures, and articulate those experiences in their religiosity.

“To bring all things [ricapitulate], both in heaven and on earth, together in Christ” (Eph 1:10).

St Paul (Eph 1) presents a Christological hymn that presents the Cosmic Christ. The important reference is that the whole universe was created through Him and in view of Him. We have the deepening of this theme in the hymn of Colossians 1, 15-20. “Through Him reconcile … all things”. These hymns are an exegesis of the Bible word “bereshit” which literally translates as: in, towards, through, in function. Also: head, beginning, firstborn. “To recapitulate” refers to reconnecting everything with the “head”, which is Christ. It is about grasping how the whole cosmos is on its way to communion in Christ, which does not exclude the present diversities that are part of the identity of individuals and peoples. The science that speaks of the expanding cosmos does not contradict this communion.

It is amazing how much of Teilhard de Chardin’s universalist thought is present in Fratelli tutti and how the encyclical draws nourishment from the spirituality of St Francis of Assisi who found a taste for divinity present in everything. In his “La vie cosmique” Teilhard even speaks of “communion with the earth”, which connects us with the spiritual sensitivity of both Pope Francis and so many men and women: adolescents, young people and the elderly, passionate about saving this “common home”, the heritage of all humanity. It is not that the earth has been given to us so that each one individually may cultivate it, but in communion with Christ the most perfect individuality that has been part of our human society. The earth is the chosen part of the universe which little by little unites and is represented by Christ.

Christ then in “his mystical body” embraces each individual as a brother or sister, and embraces all humanity. He is also the fullness and the figure of the chosen cosmos, in order to bring about in Him the culminating point of evolution: “For creation itself eagerly awaits the manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19). These are not empty words or an obsolete ritual, that of our liturgy of the Resurrection/Easter of Jesus: “Christ Yesterday and Today, Beginning and End, Alpha and Omega”, because we will arrive at the fullness, at the definitive significance of the fraternity par excellence, in the stage of eschatology/parousia.

After this, in my vision, I witnessed a vast throng that no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and language. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelations 7:9)

During the scourge of war Teilhard says that he “lives in an ideal time”, because “I want to make the world become Christ”, and that he feels “the need to act on reality and to create it”, since he has these two passions in him: “the passion of the world and the passion of God”. He reminds us of Comboni. One day Teilhard wrote in one of his letters: “may God, through the intercession of Mary, make us give a real contribution to the regeneration of the world”.

Today the missionary can make a significant contribution, albeit with humility. His contribution is religious, bringing the fullness of Christ, of his life and teaching about the Kingdom of his and our Father; but it is also social, contributing to the Social Transformation by becoming a brother or sister to all; finally, it is cosmic, because missionaries have a complete vision of the immense cosmos, which in its evolution will come to recapitulate everything in Christ.

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