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The Light of Revelation in the Old Testament

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 8 May 1985 - in French, Italian & Spanish  

"1. As you know, Sacred Scripture is made up of two large collections of books: the Old Testament and the New. The Old Testament, completely compiled before the coming of Christ, is a collection of forty-six books of various kinds. We will list them here by grouping them in such a way as to differentiate them, at least generally, according to each one's character.

2. The first group that we meet is the so-called Pentateuch, made up of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Almost as a prolongation of the Pentateuch we find the Book of Joshua and then Judges. The concise Book of Ruth in a certain way constitutes the introduction to the following group, historical in character, made up of the two Books of Samuel and the two Books of Kings. Among these books we must include also the two Books of Chronicles, the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah, which deal with the period of Israel's history after the Babylonian captivity.

The Books of Tobit, Judith and Esther, although dealing with the history of the Chosen People, have the character of allegorical and moral narrative rather than history properly so called. But the two Books of Maccabees have a historical nature.

3. The so-called "Didactic Books" form a group by themselves, and include various kinds of works. The Book of Job, Psalms, and the Song of Songs belong to this group, as do some books that have a sapiential and educational character: the Book of Proverbs, Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes), the Book of Wisdom and the Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus).

4. Finally, the last group in the Old Testament is made up of the "Prophetic Books." The four so-called "major" prophets are distinguished: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Lamentations and the Book of Baruch are added to the Book of Jeremiah. Then come the so-called "minor" prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Abadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

5. With the exception of the first chapters of Genesis, which deal with the origin of the world and of mankind, the books of the Old Testament, beginning with the call of Abraham, deal with a nation that has been chosen by God. Here is what we read in the Constitution Dei Verbum: "In carefully planning and preparing the salvation of the whole human race, the God of infinite love, by a special dispensation, chose for himself a people to whom he would entrust his promises. First he entered into a covenant with Abraham (cf. Gen 15:18) and, through Moses, with the people of Israel (cf. Ex 24:8). To this people which he had acquired for himself, he so manifested himself through words and deeds as the one true and living God that Israel came to know by experience the ways of God with men. With God himself speaking to them through the mouth of the prophets, Israel daily gained a deeper and clearer understanding of his ways and made them more widely known among the nations (cf. Ps 22:28-29; 96:1-3; Is 2:1-4; Jer 3:17). The plan of salvation, foretold by the sacred authors, recounted and explained by them, is found as the true word of God in the books of the Old Testament; these books, therefore, written under divine inspiration, remain permanently valuable..." (DV 14).

6. The conciliar Constitution then points out the principal purpose of the plan of salvation in the Old Testament: "to prepare for the coming of Christ, the redeemer of all and of the messianic kingdom, to announce this coming by prophecy (cf. Lk 24:44; Jn 5:39; 1 Pet 1:10) and to indicate its meaning through various types (cf. 1 Cor 10:11)" (cf. DV 15).

At the same time the books of the Old Testament, in accordance with the state of humanity before Christ, "reveal to all men the knowledge of God and of man and the ways in which God, just and merciful, deals with men. These books, though they also contain some things which are incomplete and temporary, nevertheless show us true divine pedagogy" (DV 15). They give expression to a "lively sense of God," "sound wisdom about human life," and finally "a wonderful treasury of prayers in which is present in a hidden way the mystery of our salvation" (DV 15). Therefore even the books of the Old Testament must be received by Christians with devotion.

7. The conciliar Constitution then illustrates the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments in this way: "God, the inspirer and author of both testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New" (according to the words of St. Augustine: "Novum in Vetere latet, Vetus in Novo patet..."). "For, though Christ established the New Covenant in his blood (cf. Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25), still the books of the Old Testament with all their parts, caught up into the proclamation of the Gospel, acquire and show forth their full meaning in the New Testament (cf. M. 5:17; Lk 24:27; Rom 16:25-26; 2 Cor 3:14-16) and in turn shed light on it and explain it" (DV 16).

As you see, the Council offers us a precise and clear doctrine, sufficient for our catechesis. This doctrine enables us to take a further step in determining the significance of our faith. "To believe in a Christian way" means to attain, according to the spirit that we have spoken about, the light of divine revelation from the books of the Old Covenant as well."

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

Ad alcuni gruppi di lingua francese

Chers frères et Sœurs de langue française, parmi vous je voudrais saluer notamment un groupe d’hommes d’affaires du Québec. Leur présence évoque pour moi les bons souvenirs de mon voyage au Canada l’an dernier. Je les remercie de venir à leur tour rendre visite à l’Evêque de Rome, et je leur offre mes vœux pour leurs travaux, pour eux-mêmes et tout leur entourage.

* * *

C’est une joie pour moi de saluer les participants au Congrès de la Fédération européenne pour les personnes âgées. Votre réflexion porte sur votre vie en notre temps. Vous étudiez aussi bien les aspects psychologiques et sociaux que les aspects techniques de la vie des aînés dans la cité. J’apprécie l’importance de cette étude à un plan international. Il est bon que les personnes âgées elles-mêmes s’entraident pour affronter leurs difficultés spécifiques, leur solitude et leur souffrance, - et pour mener une vie digne et utile dans une bonne relation avec leurs familles et toute la société. Vous savez que l’Eglise s’intéresse vivement aux questions qui vous préoccupent. Aussi est-ce bien volontiers que je vous encourage et que je souhaite le succès de votre effort commun.

* * *

Il y a aussi parmi vous des jeunes, en particulier ceux du Collège Saint-Jean de Passy à Paris. Votre pèlerinage à Rome vous unit dans la foi au successeur de Pierre et aussi à tous les chrétiens du monde. Je vous encourage à garder un lien solide avec toute l’Eglise, à prendre votre part de responsabilité dans la communauté, à devenir de vrais témoins du Christ.

A l’approche de l’Ascension et de la Pentecôte, je souhaite à tous la joie de l’Esprit Saint. Je vous bénis de tout cœur.

Ai visitatori di lingua inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to greet the groups of English-speaking visitors present here today. I welcome the groups of Religious Sisters, in particular the Missionary Benedictines of Tutzing on the occasion of the Centenary of their Congregation.

I extend a warm greeting to the members of the Church of God in Christ from the United States. The Pentecostal tradition in which your community stands proclaims the presence of the Holy Spirit in daily life. It is that same Spirit who inspires Christians to work for the unity which Christ wills for his disciples. May the Holy Spirit lead all Christians to overcome the obstacles which keep us apart and draw us together in an ever deeper fellowship of faith.

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My welcome goes also to the priests of the Continuing Theological Education Programme of the North American College. I hope that your zeal for the word of God and your love for the Church have increased during your stay in Rome. I invite you to take up the challenge of proclaiming with renewed fervour the mercy and love of God, so that your people will be drawncloser to Christ and experience the joy and hope of salvation.

* * *

I extend cordial greetings to the visitors from the Magazine Publishers Association of America. Precisely because modern society is immensely influenced by the power of the written word, you have exceptional opportunities to be of service to humanity. I would encourage you, as leaders in your field, to ever greater responsibility in the formation of public opinion. Your are able to offer to the world the power of truth and the attraction of love. And upon all the visitors from England, Finland, Sri Lanka and the United States I invoke God’s blessings of grace and peace.

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüße ich alle einzelnen Gruppen und Pilger aus Deutschland, sterreich und der Schweiz. Habt stets eine hohe Wertschätzung der Heiligen Schrift, in der Gott selbst zu uns spricht und unser Leben und Wirken mit seinem Licht erleuchtet. Zugleich empfehle ich meine bevorstehende Pastoralreise nach Holland, Luxemburg und Belgien auch ganz besonders eurem Gebet.

Einen aufrichtigen Willkommensgruß richte ich sodann an die große Diözesanwallfahrt aus dem Bistum Graz-Seckau unter der Leitung ihres Bischofs Johann Weber. Möge euch das Erlebnis der weltweiten Kirche in der Ewigen Stadt eures Glaubens froh machen. Kehrt als erneuerte Christen in eure Heimat zurück, die sich auch in den Pflichten des Alltags mutig zu Christus bekennen. Euch und allen anwesenden deutschsprachigen Pilgern erteile ich von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai pellegrini di lingua spagnola

Vaya ahora mi cordial saludo a todos los peregrinos de lengua española,

En particular al grupo de Hermanos Maristas que están haciendo un curso de espiritualidad en Roma; a las Hermanas Esclavas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús que se preparan para su profesión perpetua; y al grupo de profesoras de la Institución Teresiana.

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Deseo dirigirme en modo especial a la nutrida representación de la “Cadena de Ondas Populares Española” (COPE). Me alegra profundamente y os felicito por la labor que estáis realizando, siguiendo las directrices del Episcopado y al servicio de la Iglesia en España.

Tenéis una labor muy importante que cumplir en el indeclinable servicio a la verdad, en la información serena y objetiva, en la tarea informativa y reconciliadora de los espíritus, en la necesaria promoción y tutela de los valores espirituales, morales y humanos del pueblo español. Buscad en esta línea metas cada vez más altas, en beneficio del hombre cristiano y de todos los ciudadanos de vuestra Patria. Vuestros Pastores y la misma sociedad os deberán mucho si sois fieles a ese programa.

Como aliento en vuestro camino, llevaos el testimonio de mi viva estima y mi cordial Bendición.

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Saludo igualmente a los peregrinos procedentes de Colombia y Perú, que se dirigen también a Tierra Santa; estos últimos acompañados por el Señor Cardenal Juan Landázuri, Arzobispo de Lima.

* * *

Asimismo saludo a las peregrinaciones de la diócesis de Toluca (México), de Argentina, de Valencia y de Alcalá la Real. A todos los peregrinos provenientes de España y de los diversos Países de América Latina imparto la Bendición Apostólica.

Ad un gruppo ungherese

È presente all’odierna udienza un gruppo di pellegrini ungheresi. Sono arrivati da Csorna, diocesi di Gyr, guidati dal loro parroco il padre scolopio Lrincz Imre.

Amate Cristo e la sua Chiesa! Riconciliatevi con Dio nel sacramento della penitenza. La mia benedizione apostolica a voi e a tutti i fedeli ungheresi.

Ai fedeli polacchi

Pozdrawiam w dniu świętego Stanisława, patrona Polski, wszystkich pielgrzymów z Krakowa-Nowej Huty, z parafii Najświętszej Maryi Panny Królowej Polski; lekarzy z Krakowa; byłych więźniów Matthausen z Krakowa; pielgrzymów z diecezji częstochowskiej; pielgrzymkę katedralną z Wrocławia; pielgrzymów parafii Wniebowzięcia; Matki Bożej z Wrocławia-Ołtaszyna; pielgrzymkę pracowników naukowych i ich rodzin z duszpasterstwa ojców Dominikanów w Poznaniu; z parafii Przemienienia Pańskiego z Brodnicy, diecezja chełmitíska; pielgrzymkę ojców Franciszkanów Konwentualnych na 25-lecie kapłaństwa oraz uczestników grup turystycznych z całej Polski. 8 maja - uroczystość świętego Stanisława Biskupa Męczennika, patrona Polski, tego, który dał szczególny wyraz, wyraz męczeństwa, wierze przyjętej w Chrzcie: w 966 roku, przeszło tysiąc lat temu Chrzest Polski, a śmierć świętego Stanisława w 1079, wedle tradycji, na Skałce.

Ai giovani

Rivolgo un affettuoso saluto a tutti i bambini e alle bambine, qui presenti, che in questi giorni hanno fatto la prima Comunione. Carissimi e carissime! Rimanete sempre fedeli, per tutta la vita, al vostro grande amico Gesù, accogliendo e meditando la sua parola contenuta nel Vangelo e a riceverlo spesso nel sacramento dell’Eucaristia.

Un saluto cordiale anche a tutti i giovani e alle giovani, in particolare alle studentesse degli Istituti retti dalle Suore domenicane del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, che hanno la casa generalizia a Catania, venute in pellegrinaggio a Roma con le loro insegnanti e i loro genitori.

All’inizio del mese dedicato alla Vergine santissima desidero affidare a lei i vostri ideali e i vostri propositi, perché ella vi ottenga la forza necessaria per offrire all’ambiente del vostro studio o del vostro lavoro quotidiano una lieta testimonianza di profonda adesione al messaggio che Cristo ha lasciato all’umanità.

Come Maria, sappiate accogliere nel vostro cuore la parola di Dio per farla crescere e sviluppare abbondantemente in frutti di amore verso Dio e verso il prossimo.

Agli ammalati

Un pensiero particolare va a voi, fratelli e sorelle infermi, che portate nel vostro corpo e nel vostro animo i segni della passione di Gesù: la Chiesa sa che voi siete le sue membra privilegiate per tale speciale conformazione di dolore al suo sposo divino. Per questo vi chiedo di voler offrire, con semplicità e generosità, la vostra sofferenza a Dio, in unione con Cristo, per il bene dell’umanità e della Chiesa stessa.

Agli sposi novelli

E a voi, sposi novelli, che in questi giorni avete consacrato nel matrimonio il vostro amore dinanzi a Dio e alla Chiesa, auguro che sulla vostra nascente famiglia cristiana aleggi sempre la presenza premurosa e materna di Maria santissima. Colei che concepì nel suo grembo verginale il Verbo di Dio incarnato.

Sappiate rendervi sempre discepoli attenti alla “scuola” della Santa Famiglia di Nazaret: da Gesù, da Maria e da Giuseppe imparate su quali fondamenti di salda fede, di fervida speranza e di operosa carità dovrete edificare la vostra comunanza di amore, perché sappiate vivere una vita coniugale profondamente serena e gioiosa nella grazia del Signore.

Su voi tutti e voi tutte la mia benedizione apostolica!


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