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Jesus Is the Definitive Fulfillment of the Revelation of God

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 3 April 1985 - in Italian & Spanish

"1. Faith - that which is contained in the expression "I believe" - is essentially related to revelation. The response to the fact that God reveals "himself" to man - and at the same time discloses to him the mystery of the eternal will to save man through "sharing the divine nature" - is "abandonment to God" on the part of man, which expresses the "obedience of faith." Faith is the obedience of reason and will to God who reveals. This obedience consists above all in accepting "as the truth" what God reveals. Man remains in harmony with his natural reason in this acceptance of the content of revelation. But through faith, man abandons his whole self to this God who reveals himself to him - and then, while he receives the gift "from on high," he responds to God with the gift of his humanity. Thus, with the obedience of reason and will to God who reveals, a new way of existing in relationship with God begins for the whole human person.

Revelation - and consequently also faith - "goes beyond" man because it opens to him supernatural perspectives. But in these perspectives lies the most profound fulfillment of the aspirations and desires that are rooted in man's spiritual nature – truth, good, love, joy, peace. St. Augustine expressed this reality in the famous phrase: "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you" (St. Augustine, Confessions, I, 1). St. Thomas devotes the first questions of the second part of the Summa Theologica to demonstrating, as though developing St. Augustine's thought, that the full realization of human perfection, and therefore man's destiny is found only in the vision and in the love of God. For this reason divine revelation meets, in faith, with the human spirit's transcendent capacity for opening to the Word of God.

2. The conciliar Constitution Dei Verbum notes that this "economy of revelation" has developed from the very beginning of the history of mankind. It "is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them" (DV 2). We can say that economy of revelation contains a particular "divine pedagogy." God gradually "communicates himself" to man, introducing him step by step to God's supernatural "self-revelation," right to the summit which is Jesus Christ.

At the same time, the entire economy of revelation is realized as the history of salvation. This process permeates human history from the very beginning. "God, who through the Word creates all things (cf. Jn 1:3) and keeps them in existence, gives men an enduring witness to himself in created realities (cf. Rom 1:19-20). Planning to make known the way of heavenly salvation, he went further and from the start manifested himself to our first parents" (DV 3).

Just as from the start the "witness in created realities" speaks to man, drawing his mind toward the invisible Creator, so also from the start there perdures in human history God's self-revelation, which requires a proper response in man's "I believe." This revelation was not interrupted by the sin of our first parents. God, in fact, "after their fall, his promise of redemption aroused in them the hope of being saved (cf. Gen 3:15), and from that time on he ceaselessly kept the human race in his care, to give eternal life to those who perseveringly do good in search of salvation (cf. Rom 2:6-7). Then, at the time he had appointed, he called Abraham in order to make of him a great nation (cf. Gen 12:2). Through the patriarchs, and after them through Moses and the prophets, he taught this nation to acknowledge himself as the one living and true God, provident Father and just judge, and to wait for the Savior promised by him. In this manner he prepared the way for the Gospel down through the centuries" (DV 3). Faith as man's response to the word of divine revelation entered the definitive phase with the coming of Christ, when "in this, the final age," God "has spoken to us through his Son" (Heb 1:1-2).

3. "Jesus Christ, therefore, the Word made flesh, was sent as 'a man to men.' He 'speaks the words of God' (Jn 3:34), and completes the work of salvation which his Father gave him to do (cf. Jn 5:36; 17:4). To see Jesus is to see his Father (Jn 14:9). For this reason Jesus perfected revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making himself present and manifesting himself – through his words and deeds, his signs and wonders, but especially through his death and glorious resurrection from the dead and final sending of the Spirit of truth. Moreover, he confirmed with divine testimony what revelation proclaimed – that God is with us to free us from the darkness of sin and death, and to raise us up to life eternal" (DV 4).

In the Christian sense, "to believe" means to accept God's definitive self-revelation in Jesus Christ by responding to it with an "abandonment to God," of which Christ himself is the foundation, the living example and the saving mediator.

Such a faith includes the acceptance of the entire "Christian economy" of salvation as a new and definitive covenant which "will never pass away." As the Council says: "We now await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (DV 4).

So the Council, which in the Constitution Dei Verbum concisely but completely presents to us the whole "pedagogy" of divine revelation, teaches us at the same time what faith is. It teaches what it means "to believe," and particularly "to believe as Christians," as though in answer to the request of Jesus himself: "Have faith in God and faith in me" (Jn 14:1)."

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

Ai pellegrini di espressione francese

Je salue avec joie tous les pèlerins de langue française, venus de nombreux pays. D’abord les différents groupes de jeunes qui prolongent ici leur séjour après l’inoubliable rencontre internationale du dimanche des Rameaux, entre autres un groupe d’Haïti, du Cameroun, du Burkina-Faso.

* * *

Je félicite les prêtres de Montréal qui viennent se familiariser avec le Saint-Siège, je leur dis mon affection et le vivant souvenir que je garde de ma visite apostolique dans leur pays.

* * *

Aux jeunes des établissements scolaires de Paris et d’autres lieux de France, de Belgique, de Suisse, du Liban, du Canada, je dis comme l’Apôtre Pierre: “Approchez-vous du Christ, la Pierre vivante rejetée des hommes”, et entrez vous-mêmes dans la construction de l’Eglise fondée sur lui.

* * *

Je salue aussi les fonctionnaires du Danemark qui ont tenu à être des nôtres ce matin.

* * *

Je salue encore les nombreux pèlerins venus de Strasbourg et de toute l’Alsace, lycéens, familles et groupes paroissiaux. A eux, comme à tous les participants, je souhaite une bonne préparation à la fête de pâques. En ce lieu où Pierre est venu en “témoin des souffrances du Christ” et de sa résurrection, je dis: vous aussi, durant ces Jours saints, suivez le Christ qui partage à ses disciples son Corps et son Sang, qui, pour nous, s’offre en sacrifice sur la Croix, avec le plus grand amour, et qui nous introduit dans la Vie nouvelle qui est le fruit de sa Pâque. A tous, bonnes fêtes de Pâques, avec ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Present at this audience are groups of pilgrims and visitors from Ireland, Sweden, Canada and the United States. I greet you and all the English-speaking people who have come to Rome for Holy Week. I pray that each of you will enter fully into the mystery of Christ’s passion and death, so that you may experience the joy and hope of his Resurrection. To you and your loved ones I impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Ad alcuni gruppi di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Schließlich grüße ich noch besonders den großen Pilgerzug aus der Diözese Münster und die Gruppe der Armen Schulschwestern von Unserer Lieben Frau, die an einem geistlichen Erneuerungskursus hier in Rom teilnehmen. Euch und allen Audienzteilnehmern wünsche ich in dieser Karwoche eine tiefe Besinnung auf den vorbehaltlosen und opferbereiten Glaubensgehorsam Christ seinem himmlischen Vater gegenüber - bis zum Tod am Kreuz. Begleiten wir ihn auf seinem Kreuzweg, um dann auch um so inniger das Fest seiner Auferstehung feiern zu können. Für geistlich fruchtbare Tage und reiche österliche Gnaden erteile ich euch und euren Angehörigen daheim von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen. Euch allen ein frohes und gesegnetes Osterfest!

Ai fedeli di lingua spagnola

Queridos hermanos y hermanas,

Deseo saludar ahora cordialmente a todos los peregrinos de lengua española.

En particular a las Religiosas Adoratrices del Santísimo Sacramento que están haciendo en Roma un curso de formación; al grupo de miembros del Movimiento de Apostolado “Regnum Christi” y al Consejo General de las Celadoras del Sagrado Corazón. Queridas Religiosas: renovad cada día vuestro sentido de fe y la generosidad en la entrega al Señor.

* * *

Saludo igualmente a los grupos de peregrinos procedentes de Calella, Oviedo, Vigo, Zaragoza, Madrid y Barcelona, así como a los estudiantes de Sevilla, del Centro Cultural “Magdalena Aulina”, del Colegio de la Pureza de María, del Liceo del Sagrado Corazón. También a las alumnas y profesoras de los Colegios de Caracas, Maracaibo y del colegio “Mater Salvatoris” que me recuerdan mi inolvidable viaje a Venezuela.

* * *

Y al grupo de jóvenes de la Archidiócesis de Durango (México), de la parroquia de San Juan Bautista de Tibas (Costa Rica) y de la Asociación “Van-Clar”.

Queridos jóvenes: sed siempre constructores de paz y fraternidad. A todos los peregrinos procedentes de España y de los diversos Países de América Latina, imparto de corazón la Bendición Apostólica.

A gruppi di pellegrini polacchi

Witam serdecznie wszystkich pielgrzymów: pielgrzymkę diecezji siedleckiej z ks. biskupem Wacławem Skomoruchą; z parafii św. Krzyża w Koszalinie; św. Antoniego we Wrocławiu; pielgrzymkę rodziny Roguskich z Warszawy - 40 osób; pielgrzymkę studentek polskich z Foyer św. Maksymiliana Kolbe z Paryża; pielgrzymkę Katolickiego Stowarzyszenia Młodzieży Polskiej - KSMP z północnej Francji; pielgrzymkę Polaków ze Stuttgartu - Niemcy Zachodnie; indywidualnych pielgrzymów z kraju i z emigracji, oraz uczestników grup turystycznych “Turysta”, “Orbis”. Wszystkich serdecznie pozdrawiam . . . W perspektywie świąt Wielkanocnych życzę pogłębienia wiary chrześcijańskiej wszystkim moim rodakom tutaj obecnym, pielgrzymom, a także - za waszym pośrednictwem - wszystkim moim rodakom w Ojczyżnie i poza Ojczyzną. Niech Bóg błogosławi i umacnia nasz naród Krzyżem i Zmartwychwstaniem Chrystusa.

A un gruppo giunto dal Giappone

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Dilettisimi pellegrini di “Don Bosco”, di Tokyo.

La Pasqua è ormai imminente. Vorrei perciò augurarvi una buona Pasqua: la “campana dell’Alleluia” risuoni sempre nella vostra vita quotidiana.

E di cuore vi imparto la mia benedizione apostolica.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo.

Ai fedeli italiani

Sono lieto di salutare il gruppo dei neodiaconi gesuiti, venuti a questa udienza insieme con i loro familiari, che hanno assistito all’ordinazione.

Carissimi, mi rallegro con voi per il passo che avete compiuto nel ricevere l’Ordine sacro. Esso vi abilita a titolo speciale al servizio di Dio e del suo popolo. Conoscete le profonde esigenze della spiritualità che il diaconato comporta: unione con Dio, amore alla croce, spirito di preghiera e dedizione totale al servizio del prossimo. Offrite con coerenza la testimonianza evangelica che oggi la Chiesa vi chiede, e seguite con fedeltà l’esempio lasciatovi dal vostro fondatore, sant’Ignazio.

Vi assicuro la mia preghiera perché i vostri propositi non vengano mai meno e vi esprimo la mia benevolenza, impartendo a voi e ai vostri familiari la mia benedizione.

Agli ammalati

Anche a voi, carissimi ammalati, va il mio affettuoso e confortante saluto.

In questa Settimana santa, in cui riviviamo i misteri della passione, morte e risurrezione del Signore, unite le vostre sofferenze a quelle redentrici di Cristo: così contribuirete alla dilatazione dell’opera salvifica portata nel mondo dal Crocifisso. Con la vostra fortezza d’animo, con il vostro spirito di pazienza e di serenità siate un continuo richiamo ai valori spirituali e alle realtà del Cristo risorto.

Ai novelli sposi

Una parola beneaugurante vada anche agli sposi novelli, che hanno da poco consacrato il loro indefettibile amore con il sacramento del Matrimonio.

Il Signore vi ha chiamati a vivere il mistero del suo amore in un reciproca donazione e ad essere suoi collaboratori nella trasmissione di nuove vite umane: rispondete sempre con gioia a questa sublime missione! Siate sicuri che egli vi assisterà con la sua grazia e vi darà la forza di perseverare nel bene. Il gaudio della Pasqua ormai vicina illumini i vostri affetti e i vostri propositi in questi primi passi del vostro nuovo cammino a due.

Ai giovani dopo il raduno internazionale

Ora a voi, carissimi giovani, vada un saluto particolarmente vibrante, nel gioioso ricordo dei significativi incontri, appena trascorsi, di sabato e domenica.

Con le stesse parole della lettera apostolica che vi ho indirizzato, in questo Anno internazionale della gioventù, vi ripeto oggi: “Voi siete la giovinezza di ogni famiglia e dell’intera umanità; voi siete anche la giovinezza della Chiesa” (Giovanni Paolo II, Epistula Apostolica ad iuvenes, Internazionali vertente Anno Iuventuti dicato, 1, 31 marzo 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII/1 [1985] 758).

La Chiesa conta molto su di voi e su questa vostra giovinezza per guardare al futuro con crescente speranza. Voi, a vostra volta, rispondete con l’entusiasmo che vi è proprio a questa attesa della Chiesa. Impegnatevi seriamente a proclamare con una testimonianza di vita coerente e incisiva i valori in cui credete e siate, dovunque veniate a trovarvi, i segni visibili e attendibili della fede e della speranza, che non delude.


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