As Pope Francis points out, a true pastoral and missionary conversion is urgently needed. In order to offer an accurate assessment of the present situation of the Church’s pastoral ministry, and to offer an effective proposal for renewal, it is necessary to consider first of all the pastoral care of Christ, the Good Shepherd. We will take Jesus’ dialogue with the Samaritan woman as our inspiration. We hope to show that for the grace of Christ to illuminate and transform our hearts and societies, we need an evangelizing pastoral care rooted in the truth of love. What was Jesus’ pastoral approach when addressing the Samaritan woman? The Lord “addressed her desire for true love, in order to free her from the darkness in her life and to bring her to the full joy of the Gospel” (Amoris Laetitia, n. 294). In this key passage of St. John’s Gospel, the truth of love is presented as an indispensable element and the guiding thread of Jesus’ pastoral ministry.
The present reflection seeks to approach anew the horizon opened by Pope John Paul II’s perspective on the body as “sacrament.” What follows is an attempt to explicate the claim that the essential truth of the body revealed in its givenness is love. That is, the body, in the pope’s evocative words, is “a sign that efficaciously transmits in the visible world the invisible mystery hidden in God from eternity.” The goal is to show just how deeply the body is implicated in the mystery of human identity, action, and the eternal love offered to man by the mystery of God’s assuming of the human nature in the Son.
The second thesis of the Veritas Amoris Project seeks to explore how Christ brings with him the fulfilled unity of truth and love. If we believe that “only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light” (Gaudium et Spes 22), this applies as well to the truth of love as a key to understanding human life. What the truth of love is all about, takes on light only if we look at Christ. And, at the same time, the mystery of Christ can best be perceived if we start from the truth of love as the key to understanding man, the world and God. To explore this topic, I will first link Christ to the unity of truth and love (1). I will look then for the appropriate vantage point to perceive this unity in his person and work (2). Finally, I will focus on the Gospel of John to show the different ways in which Christ and the truth of love go together, since John has placed special emphasis on this connection (3).
Levering has produced a volume rich in breadth, in source material and in themes. Each chapter achieves three things: a retrieval of important source material; an engagement with contemporary theology (critics included); and a clear endpoint for earthly marriage as an image of the mystical marriage. The book’s clear, eschatological focus is a powerful and needed reminder in the face of a loss of faith, and its content an invaluable resource.