Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs told his fellow bishops that they must never reduce Christ “to the status of a wise man,” but preach that he is alive and present in the modern world.
“Our proclamation must be a proclamation of a living Jesus, the one who died for our sins, yes, but who was raised and lives now, never to die again, is in our midst – and it is he that we proclaim,” he said May 3 at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.
Bishop Sheridan is in Rome from May 1-5 with an episcopal delegation from Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming. The group is making their “ad limina” pilgrimage to the tombs of St. Paul and St. Peter and are due to meet with Pope Benedict XVI on May 4.
“Yesterday’s Mass at the tomb of St. Peter brought us into a very special union with the first Vicar of Christ,” recalled Bishop Sheridan, “and now in anticipation of our visits with our Holy Father we are in his cathedral church and he is very much with us today.”
Describing the architectural surroundings as “ancient and venerable,” Bishop Sheridan drew inspiration from a homily also delivered in St. John Lateran’s by Pope Benedict to mark the opening of the 2011 Diocesan Convention.
In that address, the Pope had suggested that “if mankind forgets God this is also because Jesus is often reduced to the status of a wise man.” This, said the Pope, diminished the divinity of Christ to the point of denial and made it “impossible to comprehend the radical novelty of Christianity” as it asserted that “God did not enter into the history of mankind.”
This, said Bishop Sheridan, was the attitude of the disciples who “commiserated with one another” as they walked the road to Emmaus on Easter day. “What they were doing was speaking to each other of a dead Jesus, a dead savior,” he said.
This cautionary tale, he noted, is highlighted in the preparatory documents for this October’s Synod of Bishops in Rome that will focus on theme of New Evangelization and will also launch Pope Benedict’s Year of Faith.
Bishop Sheridan concluded by praying with his fellow bishops “that the Lord will indeed fire us up with his Holy Spirit so that we may join in this new evangelization in a most effective way.”
In this way, he prayed, they could make their own the words of Christ as recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke – “I must proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. It is what I came to do.”