7. In Jesus Christ God not only speaks
to man but also seeks him out. The Incarnation of the Son of God
attests that God goes in search of man. Jesus speaks of this search as the
finding of a lost sheep (cf. Lk 15:1-7). It is a search which begins
in the heart of God and culminates in the Incarnation of the Word. If
God goes in search of man, created in his own image and likeness, he does so
because he loves him eternally in the Word, and wishes to raise him in
Christ to the dignity of an adoptive son. God therefore goes in search of
man who is his special possession in a way unlike any other creature.
Man is God's possession by virtue of a choice made in love: God seeks man
out, moved by his fatherly heart.
Why does God seek man out? Because man
has turned away from him, hiding himself as Adam did among the trees of the
Garden of Eden (cf. Gen 3:8-10). Man allowed
himself to be led astray by the enemy of God (cf. Gen 3:13).
Satan deceived man, persuading him that he too was a god, that he, like God,
was capable of knowing good and evil, ruling the world according to his own
will without having to take into account the divine will (cf. Gen 3:5).
Going in search of man through his Son, God wishes to persuade man to
abandon the paths of evil which lead him farther and farther afield.
"Making him abandon" those paths means making man understand that
he is taking the wrong path; it means overcoming the evil which is
everywhere found in human history. Overcoming evil: this is the meaning of the Redemption. This
is brought about in the sacrifice of Christ, by which man redeems the debt
of sin and is reconciled to God. The Son of God became man, taking a body
and soul in the womb of the Virgin, precisely for this reason: to become the
perfect redeeming sacrifice. The religion of the Incarnation is the religion of
the world's Redemption through the sacrifice of Christ, wherein lies
victory over evil, over sin and over death itself. Accepting death on the
Cross, Christ at the same time reveals and gives life, because he rises
again and death no longer has power over him.
8. The religion which originates in the
mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation, is the religion of "dwelling in the heart of God",
of sharing in God's very life. Saint Paul speaks of this in the passage
already quoted: "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, 'Abba! Father!' " (Gal 4:6). Man cries out like Christ
himself, who turned to God "with loud cries and tears" (Heb
5:7), especially in Gethsemane and on the Cross: man cries out to God
just as Christ cried out to him, and thus he bears witness that he shares in
Christ's sonship through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, whom
the Father has sent in the name of the Son, enables man to share in the
inmost life of God. He also enables man to be a son,
in the likeness of Christ, and an heir of all that belongs to the Son
(cf. Gal 4:7). In this consists the religion of "dwelling in the
inmost life of God", which begins with the Incarnation of the Son of
God. The Holy Spirit, who searches the depths of God (cf. 1 Cor 2:10),
leads us, all mankind, into these depths by virtue of the sacrifice of