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God the Creator of Heaven and Earth

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 15 January 1986 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. The Truth about creation is the object and content of the Christian faith. This truth is present in an explicit manner only in revelation. It is only vaguely found in the mythological cosmogonies outside the Bible. It is absent from the speculations of the ancient philosophers, even the greatest, such as Plato and Aristotle, although they had reached a rather elevated concept of God as a totally perfect Being, the Absolute. Unaided human intelligence can arrive at the formulation of the truth that the world and contingent beings (i.e., those not existing of necessity) depend on the Absolute. However, the formulation of this dependence as "creation"—therefore on the basis of the truth about creation—pertains originally to divine revelation and in this sense it is a truth of faith.

2. It is proclaimed at the beginning of the professions of faith, beginning with those most ancient, such as the Apostles' Creed: "I believe in God...Creator of heaven and earth." Likewise the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed states: "I believe in God...Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible." Finally, the Credo of the People of God proclaimed by Pope Paul VI declares: "We believe in one only God...Creator of things visible such as this world in which our transient life passes, of things invisible such as the pure spirits which are also called angels, and creator in each man of his spiritual and immortal soul" (L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, July 11, 1968, p. 4).

3. Because of the richness of its content, the truth about the creation of the world and of man by God occupies a fundamental place in the Christian creed. It not only refers to the origin of the world as the result of God's creative act, but it also reveals God as the Creator. God has spoken by the prophets, and in these last days by the Son (cf. Heb 1:1). He has made known to all those who accept his revelation not merely that it is precisely he who created the world, but above all, what it means to be Creator.

4. Sacred Scripture (Old and New Testament) is full of the truth about creation and about God the Creator. The first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, begins by asserting this truth: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen 1:1). Many other biblical passages repeat this truth, showing how deeply it had penetrated the faith of Israel. Let us recall at least a few. We read in the Psalms: "The earth is the Lord's and its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it; for he has founded it upon the seas" (24:1-2). "The heavens are yours, the earth is also yours; the world and all that is in it, for you have founded them" (89:11). "The sea is his, for he made it; for his hands formed the dry land" (95:5). "The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made...for he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded and it stood forth" (33:5-6, 9). "May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (114:15). The same truth is professed by the author of the Book of Wisdom: "O God of my fathers and Lord of mercy, who has made all things by your word..." (9:1). The prophet Isaiah, speaking in the first person, quotes the word of God the Creator: "I am the Lord who made all things" (44:24).

The testimonies in the New Testament are no less clear. For example, the Prologue of John's Gospel states: "In the beginning was the Word...all things were made through him, and without him nothing was made" (1:1, 3). The Letter to the Hebrews states: "By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear" (11:3).

5. The truth of creation expresses the thought that everything existing outside of God has been called into existence by him. In Sacred Scripture we find texts which speak clearly of this. The Book of Maccabees records the case of the mother of the seven sons. In the presence of the threat of death, she encouraged the youngest of them to profess the faith of Israel, saying to him: "Look at the heavens and the earth...God did not make them out of things that existed. So also mankind came into being" (2 Macc 7:28). We read in the Letter to the Romans: "Abraham believed in God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist" (4:17).

"To create" therefore means: to make from nothing, to call into existence, that is, to form a being from nothing. Biblical language gives us a glimpse of this significance in the opening words of the Book of Genesis: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The word "created" is a translation of the Hebrew bara, which describes an action of extraordinary power whose subject is God alone. Reflection after the exile resulted in a better understanding of the significance of the initial divine intervention. The Second Book of Maccabees finally presents it as a production "not out of things that existed" (7:28). The Fathers of the Church and theologians further clarified the meaning of the divine action by speaking of creation "from nothing" (Creatio ex nihilo; more precisely ex nihilo sui et subjecti). In the act of creation, God is the exclusive and direct principle of the new being, to the exclusion of any pre-existing matter.

6. As Creator, God is in a certain sense "outside" of created being and what is created is "outside" of God. At the same time the creature fully and completely owes to God its own existence (its being what it is), because the creature has its origin fully and completely from the power of God.

Through this creative power (omnipotence) God is in the creature and the creature is in him. However, this divine immanence in no way diminishes God's transcendence in regard to everything to which he gives existence.

7. When the Apostle Paul set foot in the Areopagus of Athens he spoke as follows to those assembled there: "As I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'To an unknown God.' What you worship as unknown, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth..." (Acts 17:23-24).

It is significant that the Athenians, who recognized many gods (pagan polytheism), should have heard these words about the one God, the Creator, without raising objections. This seems to confirm that the truth about creation constitutes a meeting-point between those who profess different religions. Perhaps the truth about creation is rooted in an innate and fundamental way in diverse religions, even if they do not have sufficiently clear concepts, such as those contained in Sacred Scripture."

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

Ai pellegrini di lingua francese

Je salue les pèlerins d’expression française présents aujourd’hui. Et, puisque nous sommes encore au début de l’année, je leur offre mes vœux cordiaux en priant le Seigneur de les bénir.

Ai pellegrini di espressione inglese 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

My special greeting goes to all the Sisters present at this audience, especially the Marist Sisters and the members of the General Chapter of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. May you always find peace and joy in your service to the Lord by re-dedicating yourselves each day to answering his call and doing his will.

* * *

I also wish to welcome the participants in the sixty-seventh session of the NATO Defense College. Dear friends: I hope that your contact with people from various countries has enabled you to deepen your awareness of the common vocation we share to promote peace - a vocation to follow the path of solidarity, dialogue and universal brotherhood, to look beyond ourselves in order to understand and support the good of others. I pray that you will return to your respective Nations ever more convinced of the need to follow this path and work to build a more peaceful world.

* * *

And to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from Sweden and the United States, I offer the assurance of my prayers and I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Al gruppo di lingua spagnola

Deseo ahora presentar mi cordial saludo de bienvenida a todos los peregrinos de lengua española presentes en esta Audiencia.

De modo particular saludo a los sacerdotes, religiosos y religiosas alentándoles a continuar siempre fieles a su vocación de servicio a Dios y a la Iglesia por amor a los hermanos.

* * *

Saludo asimismo al grupo de jóvenes mexicanos y a todas las demás personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España, impartiéndoles con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini di lingua polacca

Witam uczestników tej audiencji z Polski. W szczególnosci witam księdza biskupa Pazdura z Wrocławia oraz uczestnikow grup turystycznych Orbisu, PTTK, Amicizia i Turysty.

Ai gruppi di fedeli italiani 

Saluto i Padri della Congregazione dei Figli dell’Immacolata Concezione, che sono convenuti a Roma per partecipare al Capitolo Generale del loro Istituto.

Carissimi, vi assicuro la mia spirituale vicinanza. Prego il Signore, affinché vi dia quella luce interiore che aiuta a discernere la sua volontà e ad operare quelle scelte e decisioni che sempre meglio formino e guidino voi ed i vostri confratelli nella consacrazione a Cristo e nel servizio del suo Regno.

Vi accompagno con la mia Benedizione Apostolica. 

* * *

Sono presenti a questa Udienza i sacerdoti salesiani che, al termine del loro corso di formazione permanente, hanno desiderato questo incontro.

Carissimi, con voi saluto tutti coloro che rappresentate, ed auspico che abbiate, come riflessione e programma nel compimento del vostro particolare ministero, le parole di Gesù: “Se vuoi essere perfetto, va’, vendi quello che possiedi, dallo ai poveri e avrai un tesoro nel cielo; poi vieni e seguimi”.

Pongo voi e i vostri confratelli sotto la protezione di Maria Ausiliatrice e di cuore vi benedico. 

* * *

Saluto ora i pellegrini della diocesi di Prato, che stanno preparandosi a diventare operatori familiari nella loro diocesi.

Carissimi, è veramente necessario servire il matrimonio e la famiglia, sia per i compiti che tale comunione di vita e di amore implica, che per le difficoltà da cui è frequentemente minacciata.

Mentre vi invito a essere sempre testimoni generosi di una vita coniugale veramente cristiana, vi esorto ad essere attenti alle domande e necessità di quanti incontrerete, comunicando loro il significato profondo del patto d’amore consacrato da Cristo.

A ognuno giunga la mia Benedizione Apostolica. 

Ai giovani 

Ed ora un affettuoso saluto a tutti voi, carissimi giovani presenti a questa Udienza. Grande è la consolazione che ogni volta mi recate perché mi date bella testimonianza della vostra fede. Siate sempre generosi assertori dell’amore indiscusso per Gesù nostro salvatore e per la Chiesa, che ripone in voi le sue speranze per l’avvenire della società umana; e tante sono le vostre iniziative in favore del prossimo più bisognoso di aiuto. Nell’incoraggiarvi ad essere sempre limpido esempio di testimonianza evangelica, vi seguo con la preghiera e con la mia Benedizione. 

Agli ammalati 

Un cordiale saluto ed una parola d’incoraggiamento rivolgo a voi, carissimi infermi, che conoscete la sofferenza e la solitudine e vi sentite umiliati per non poter partecipare alla vita del mondo che vi circonda.

Nell’incontro di oggi, invece, circondati dall’affetto di tanti fratelli, che vi esprimono la loro gratitudine per il bene che ad essi proviene dalla vostra generosa accettazione del dolore, di cui si serve il Signore per effondere la sua misericordia verso gli uomini, e specialmente verso quelli che sono da lui lontani. Voi siete la predilezione del Signore. Vi benedico di cuore e con voi i vostri cari e quanti vi assistono. 

Agli sposi novelli 

E voi, carissimi sposi, siate sempre all’altezza della grande missione che il Signore vi ha affidato col sacramento del matrimonio. Col vostro esempio e la vostra donazione amorosa, siete la eloquente dimostrazione che solo nell’adempimento della legge divina si è collaboratori di Dio nella sua opera creatrice; da voi, inoltre dipende l’integrità e la saldezza della società civile e della fecondità stessa della Chiesa. Vi segue in questa opera di edificazione la mia Benedizione Apostolica, estensibile a tutti i vostri famigliari e congiunti.

Un appello ai cristiani libanesi, affinché pongano fine alle ostilità e ai combattimenti fratricidi, è levato da Giovanni Paolo II al termine dell’udienza generale odierna. Queste le parole del Santo Padre.

Ho appreso con profondo dolore le notizie giunte nei giorni scorsi dal Libano, dove si sono avuti scontri tra combattenti cristiani che hanno causato decine di morti e di feriti.

Invito caldamente i gruppi che si combattono a cessare le ostilità e a iniziare, anche con l’aiuto dei loro Pastori, un dialogo sincero per ritrovare, pur nella diversità delle opinioni, la concordia che dovrebbe essere favorita dalla loro fede comune.

Solamente questa volontà di intesa permetterà che essi siano efficaci costruttori, insieme con altri concittadini di diversa fede o comunione, di un Libano nuovo, nel quale ritorni la pace e ciascuno possa vivere ed esprimersi in libertà e dignità, senza timori per il proprio futuro e per quello della propria comunità.

Vi invito ad unirvi alla mia preghiera al Signore, affinché i cristiani libanesi accolgano l’appello fraterno che giunge loro dalla Chiesa e da quanti hanno a cuore l’esistenza di un Libano pacifico, indipendente e unito.

© Copyright 1996 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana