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Christ Reveals the Father’s Countenance to Us

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 23 October 1985 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. In the previous catechesis we had a quick look at some of the Old Testament testimonies which paved the way for the reception of the full revelation of the mystery of the fatherhood of God.

This truth was announced by Jesus Christ, who spoke about his Father many times, interpreting in various ways his providence and merciful love.

But his teaching goes further. Let us listen again to the particularly solemn words, recorded by the evangelist Matthew (and in the parallel passage of Luke): "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes..." and later, "All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Mt 11:25, 27; cf. Lk 10:21-22).

Therefore, for Jesus, God is not merely "the Father of Israel, the Father of mankind," but "my Father!" "My"—precisely for this reason the Jews wished to kill Jesus, because "he called God his Father" (Jn 5:18). "His" in a very literal sense—he whom only the Son knows as Father, and by whom alone he is reciprocally known. We are already on the same ground on which the prologue of John's Gospel shall later arise.

2. The "my Father" is the Father of Jesus Christ; he who is the origin of his being, of his messianic mission, of his teaching. The evangelist John has abundantly recorded the messianic teaching which enables us to plumb the depths of the mystery of God the Father and of Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son.

Jesus said: "He who believes in me, believes not in me, but in him who sent me" (Jn 12:44). "I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself commanded me what to say and what to speak" (Jn 12:49). "Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, the Son does likewise" (Jn 5:19). "For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself" (Jn 5:26). And finally, "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father..." (Jn 6:57).

The Son lives by the Father first of all because he has been generated by him. There is a strict co-relationship between paternity and sonship precisely in virtue of generation: "You are my Son, today I have begotten you" (Heb 1:5). At Caesarea Philippi when Simon Peter professed: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus answered him: "Blessed are you...because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father..." (Mt 16:16-17). Only "the Father knows the Son" just as only the "Son knows the Father" (Mt 11:27). Only the Son makes the Father known—the visible Son makes us see the Father who is invisible. "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14:9).

3. We learn from an attentive reading of the Gospels that Jesus lived and worked in constant and fundamental reference to the Father. He frequently addressed him with the word full of filial love; "Abba." Even during the prayer in Gethsemane this same word was again on his lips (cf. Mk 14:36 and parallel passages). When the disciples asked him to teach them to pray, he taught them the "Our Father" (cf. Mt 6:9-13). After the resurrection, at the moment of his departure from earth, he seemed once again to refer to this prayer when he said: "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" (Jn 20:17).

Thus God is revealed in the fullness of the mystery of his paternity by means of the Son (cf. Heb 1:2). Only the Son could reveal this fullness of the mystery, because only "the Son knows the Father" (Mt 11:27). "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known" (Jn 1:18).

4. Who is the Father? In the light of the definitive testimony which we have received through the Son, Jesus Christ, we have faith's awareness that God's fatherhood pertains first of all to the fundamental mystery of God's inner life, to the trinitarian mystery. The Father is he who eternally generates the Word, the Son who is consubstantial with him. The Father, in union with the Son, is eternally the principle of the "spiration" of the Holy Spirit, who is the love in which the Father and Son reciprocally remain united (cf. Jn 14:10).

The Father is the "Beginning-without-beginning," in the trinitarian mystery. The Father is "not made, nor created nor generated by anyone" (Symbol Quicumque). He is of himself the principle of the life which God has in himself. This life - that is, the divinity itself - is possessed in absolute communion with the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are consubstantial with him.

Paul, the apostle of the mystery of Christ, fell down in adoration and prayer "before the Father from whom all paternity in heaven and on earth is named" (Eph 3:15), the beginning and model.

There is "one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all" (Eph 4:6)."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca

Herzlich grüße ich noch einmal alle anwesenden Pilgergruppen, Familien, Priester und Ordensleute und besonders auch die Jugendgruppen aus Deutschland, sterreich und der Schweiz und begleite euren weiteren Romaufenthalt mit meinen besten Wünschen. Zugleich erteile ich euch und euren Lieben in der Heimat von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di espressione francese

Je salue les responsables du “Crédit Lyonnais” de France. Je sais leur bienveillance et leur attention à certains problèmes des communautés ecclésiales. Je les félicite et je les encourage dans leurs responsabilités professionnelles, pour que leur vie demeure sous le signe d’une heureuse gestion, d’une recherche du bien commun et de l’entraide. J’implore les grâces de Dieu sur leurs personnes et leurs familles.

Je forme des vœux cordiaux pour tous les autres pèlerins de langue française, notamment des paroisses ou les groupes de jeunes de France et de Suisse. A tous je donne ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese

I would like to extend a special word of welcome to the group of chaplains of the United States Navy stationed in Naples. My warm greetings also go to the pilgrims from Coventry and to the Across Pilgrimage of handicapped persons coming from England.

It is a special joy to welcome the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit who are making their renewal course in Nemi, and I greet most cordially the Religious of Jesus and Mary who have come to Rome for a year of Spiritual Renewal. Dear Sisters, I pray that the Holy Spirit will stir your hearts to an ever deeper realization of the greatness of religious life. May you always find joy in serving the Church and in praising the Name of the Lord.

And upon all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ad un gruppo di fedeli coreani

Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini venuti dalla Corea.

Che il Signore benedica il vostro Paese, la vostra Chiesa, le vostre famiglie.

Lodato sia Gesù.

Ai pellegrini di espressione spagnola

Deseo ahora dirigir mi más cordial saludo a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua española.

A los sacerdotes, religiosos y religiosas aquí presentes, que con ilusión han querido venir a encontrarse con el Papa, les saludo con todo afecto en el Señor y les aliento a mantener vivos los ideales de entrega a Dios y servicio generoso a los hermanos.

Saludo igualmente a las peregrinaciones procedentes de México, Bilbao y Alicante.

A todas las personas, familias y grupos provenientes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España imparto de corazón la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai fedeli polacchi

Serdecznie witam i pozdrawiam wszystkich Księży Biskupów: Księży Biskupów Ordynariuszy tarnowskiego i włocławskiego oraz Księży Biskupów pomocniczych z diecezji chełmińskiej oraz lubelskiej. Pozdrawiam pielgrzymów z parafii św. Maksymiliana Kolbe z Nowej Huty - Mistrzejowice; z parafii św. Maksymiliana Kolbe w Oświęcimiu; z parafii Mszana Dolna, archidiecezja krakowska; z parafii św. Rocha w Nowym Sączu; z parafii oraz dekanatu Jasło; pielgrzymów z archidiecezji warszawskiej; z parafii Zmartwychwstania Pańskiego i Matki Bożej Częstochowskiej w Bydgoszczy; pielgrzymów z diecezji chełmińskiej; z parafii św. Antoniego ojców franciszkanów w Gdyni; z parafii Pierwszych Polskich Męczenników z Poznania; z parafii świętych Krzysztofa i Jakuba we Wrocławiu; prócz tego pielgrzymów z Polonii Amerykańskiej, jako też z polskiej parafii w Kolonii oraz grupę kolejarzy z Rybnika, wreszcie uczestników grup turystycznych PTTK, Orbisu, Sport-Tourist i Turysty.

Pragnę bardzo serdecznie zapewniæ wszystkich moich rodaków, że wspólnie z Ojczyzną, zwłaszcza z Warszawą, przeżywałem pierwaszą rocznicę śmierci śp. księdza Jerzego Popiełuszki i tak jak zeszłego roku, tak i w tym roku wyrażam gorące życzenie, ażeby ta śmierć zawsze była odczytywana w sposób właściwy, żeby wymowa tej śmierci dla dziejów Narodu i Kościoła pozostała zawsze ta sama, zawsze tak samo przekonywająca i tak samo budująca.

Ad alcuni gruppi di fedeli italiani

Un cordiale saluto rivolgo a tutti i gruppi di lingua italiana, che sono presenti a questa udienza, in particolare al parroco e ai fedeli della parrocchia di Colloredo di Monte Albano e Lauzzana, dell’arcidiocesi di Udine, i quali hanno manifestato il desiderio che il Papa benedica la prima pietra della nuova chiesa, distrutta interamente dal terremoto.

Ben volentieri accolgo il vostro desiderio, cari fratelli e sorelle, con l’auspicio che questa prima pietra sia il segno della rinascita spirituale, del rinnovamento interiore e dell’impegno personale e comunitario a testimoniare generosamente il messaggio di Cristo.

* * *

Un affetto pensiero va anche al pellegrinaggio della Cassa Rurale e Artigiana di Venticano, in diocesi di Benevento, che celebra la “Festa del socio cooperatore” e il quinto anno di attività dell’Istituto.

Auspico che siate sempre fedeli ai grandi valori cristiani, che i vostri padri vi hanno tramandato come un tesoro da custodire gelosamente e da condividere generosamente mediante una limpida professione del Vangelo di Gesù.

* * *

Uno speciale saluto desidero rivolgere alle partecipanti al decimo capitolo generale delle “Figlie della Misericordia del Terz’Ordine di san Francesco”.

Care sorelle in Cristo! In questi giorni voi state trattando, nella comune preghiera e riflessione, questioni fondamentali per la vostra Congregazione, quale l’elezione del nuovo governo generale, il confronto delle vostre Costituzioni con il Codice di Diritto Canonico. Siate sempre gioiosamente salde alla vostra specifica missione nella Chiesa, vale a dire alla testimonianza dell’amore di Dio Padre, mediante le opere di misericordia cristiana, l’istruzione scolastica dei bambini e dei giovani, la cura degli infermi, degli anziani e le varie attività pastorali nelle missioni e nelle parrocchie.

Affido questi miei voti e i vostri ideali e propositi al Cuore immacolato di Maria santissima, mentre invoco dal Signore l’abbondanza dei suoi favori su di voi e sulle vostre consorelle residenti nelle 73 comunità sparse per il mondo. A tutti e a tutte imparto la mia benedizione apostolica.

Ai giovani

Saluto con profondo affetto voi, giovani. Carissimi, i sentimenti che la vostra presenza e il vostro entusiasmo esprimono, provengono da un cuore, il quale si apre positivamente alla vita vera, offerta da Cristo. Vi esorto a testimoniare sempre il suo amore redentivo con tenacia, coerenza, letizia, portando a tutti quelli che incontrate il messaggio di speranza che è Cristo Gesù.

Che la Vergine Maria interceda per voi e siate così ricolmi della grazia, con cui lo Spirito Santo illumina e fortifica la vostra giovane esistenza, permettendo di aprire l’anima alla carità.

Su ciascuno di voi e sui vostri genitori, scenda la mia benedizione apostolica, che vi imparto con paterna benevolenza.

Agli ammalati

Con commozione mi rivolgo ora a voi, cari malati, che voglio rendere certi della bontà di Dio: Egli, il quale ha creato dal nulla tutte le cose, non lascia a se stessa, abbandonandola, l’opera delle sue mani, e tiene presenti costantemente i figli che ha generato. Il Signore della vita vi è sempre vicino e con le parole di suo Figlio, mandato nel mondo per infinito amore, vi ripete: “Venite a me voi, che siete affaticati e oppressi, e io vi ristorerò” (Mt 11, 28).

Insieme col mio spirituale abbraccio giunga a ognuno di voi la confortatrice benedizione apostolica, segno dell’amore paterno di Dio Padre.

Agli sposi novelli

Un particolare saluto anche a voi, sposi novelli, che siete qui convenuti per ricevere la benedizione del Papa sulla vostra unione. L’augurio che di cuore vi rivolgo è che la nuova famiglia da voi costituita sia sempre segno e testimonianza di unità, di gratuità e di reciproco amore, per l’edificazione della Chiesa.

La Vergine fedele, dal cui esempio impariamo a conoscere il disegno di Dio, la sua promessa e la sua alleanza, vi aiuti con la sua intercessione a tener fede all’impegno, che avete assunto con gioia e trepidazione, e a portarlo a pienezza accogliendo la nuova vita, che il Padre vorrà suscitare, mediante voi, nei vostri figli.

Che il Signore vi accompagni sempre!

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