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Jesus Christ, the Son who lives for the Father

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
General Audience, Wednesday 15 July 1987 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. In the previous reflection we considered Jesus Christ as the Son intimately united to the Father. This union permitted and obliged him to say: "The Father is in me, and I am in the Father," not only in the confidential conversation in the upper room, but also in the public declaration made during the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. Jn 7:28-29). Indeed, still more clearly Jesus went as far as to say "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30). These words were regarded as blasphemous and provoked a violent reaction among his hearers: "They took up stones to stone him" (cf. Jn 10:31). The Mosaic law prescribed the death penalty for blasphemy (cf. Dt 13:10-11).

2. It is important to recognize the existence of an organic link between the truth of this intimate union of the Son with the Father and the fact that Jesus the Son lives completely for the Father. We know that the whole life, the entire earthly existence of Jesus was constantly directed to the Father. It was given to the Father without reserve. While still only twelve years old, Jesus, son of Mary, had a precise awareness of his relationship with the Father. He adopted an attitude consistent with his interior certainty. Therefore in reply to the remonstrance of his mother, when together with Joseph she found him in the Temple after having sought him for three days, he said, "Did you not know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Lk 2:49).

3. In the present reflection also we refer especially to the fourth Gospel, because the awareness and attitude shown by Jesus already at the age of twelve are deeply rooted in his great farewell discourse. According to John, this was delivered during the Last Supper, at the end of Jesus' life, as he was about to complete his messianic mission. The evangelist John says that Jesus, "realizing that the hour had come...(was fully aware) that the Father had handed everything over to him and that he had come from God and was going to God" (Jn 13:3).

Referring in a certain way to the pre-existence of Jesus, the Letter to the Hebrews emphasizes the same truth when it states: "Wherefore, on coming into the world, Jesus said, 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you have prepared for me; holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in. Then I said, "As is written of me in the book, I have come to do your will, O God"'" (Heb 10:5-7).

4. In the words and deeds of Jesus, to do the will of the Father means to live totally for the Father. "Just as the Father who has life sent me...I have life because of the Father" (Jn 6:57), Jesus said in the context of the announcement of the institution of the Eucharist. That the fulfillment of the Father's will was for Christ his very life is shown by the words which he himself addressed to his disciples after his meeting with the Samaritan woman: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work" (Jn 4:34). Jesus lived by the will of the Father. This was his "food."

5. He lived in this way - totally directed to the Father—because he had come forth from the Father and was going back to the Father, knowing that the Father had given everything over to him (cf. Jn 3:35). Letting himself be guided in everything by this knowledge, Jesus proclaimed before the children of Israel: "Yet I have testimony greater than John's [that is, than John the Baptist's testimony], namely, the works the Father has given me to accomplish. These very works which I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me" (Jn 5:36). Again in the same context we read: "I solemnly assure you, the Son cannot do anything by himself—he can do only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise" (Jn 5:19). And he added: "Just as the Father raises the dead and grants life, so the Son grants life to those to whom he wishes" (Jn 5:21).

6. The passage of the Eucharistic discourse (from John 6) which we quoted above: "As the Father who has life sent me...I have life because of the Father" is sometimes translated: "I live through the Father" (Jn 6:57). The words of John 5 which we have just cited above harmonize with this second interpretation. Jesus lives "through the Father" in the sense that all that he does corresponds fully to the Father's will; it is that which the Father himself does. For this very reason the Son's human life, his activity and his earthly existence are completely directed to the Father—Jesus lives entirely through the Father—because in him the source of everything is his eternal unity with the Father. "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30). His works prove the close communion of the divine Persons. In them the same divinity is manifested as the unity of the Father and the Son—the truth of the Father and the Son—the truth that provoked so much opposition among his hearers.

7. As if foreseeing the further consequences of that opposition, Jesus said in another moment of his conflict with the Jews: "When you lift up the Son of Man, you will come to realize that I Am and that I do nothing by myself. I say only what the Father has taught me. The One who sent me is with me. He has not deserted me since I always do what pleases him" (Jn 8:27-29).

8. Truly Jesus fulfilled the Father's will to the end. By Jesus' passion and death on the cross he confirmed that "he always does what pleases the Father." He fulfilled the salvific will for the redemption of the world, in which the Father and Son are united because they are eternally "one" (Jn 10:30). When dying on the cross, Jesus "cried out with a loud voice, 'Father into your hands I commend my spirit'" (cf. Lk 23:46). These final words of his testified that to the very end his whole earthly existence was directed to the Father. Living, as Son, "through the Father" he lived completely "for the Father." And the Father, as he had predicted, did not desert him. The paschal mystery of the death and resurrection fulfilled the words: "when you lift up the Son of Man, you will come to realize that I Am." "I Am"—the very same words used once by the Lord, the living God, in reply to Moses' question about God's name (cf. Ex 3:13f.).

9. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read certain consoling expressions: "Therefore Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he forever lives to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:25). He who as Son "of the same being with the Father" lives "through the Father," has revealed the way of eternal salvation. Let us also take this way and proceed along it, participating in that life "for the Father," whose fullness lasts for ever in Christ.

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

Ai fedeli di espressione francese

En vous invitant ainsi à contempler la personne du Christ Sauveur, je voudrais vous dire, à vous, pèlerins et visiteurs de langue française, mes vśux cordiaux. En particulier, je salue les Sśurs de la Sainte-Famille de Bordeaux, en session spirituelle, les Sśurs du Sacré-Cśur venues de France pour vénérer les tombeaux des Apôtres. Et je salue aussi le groupe du Cap-de-la-Madeleine au Canada: que leur pèlerinage à Rome soit un temps fort de prière en cette Année mariale! A tous, je souhaite bonne route, pour les vacances, pour la vie de tous les jours également. Et je demande à Dieu de vous bénir.

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese

I am pleased to welcome all the pilgrims and visitors present at today’s audience. It is a joy for me to greet the members of Our Lady of Fatima First Saturday Club. Be assured that the Pope’s prayers are joined to yours in begging the Lord for peace in the world.

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A warm greeting likewise to the Saint Hallvard Choir from Oslo, who are celebrating their Silver Jubilee and who again this summer are helping with the singing in Saint Peter’s Basilica. I thank you for your generosity and Christian service.

I wish to extend cordial greetings in particular to a group of Presbyterian pastors and to the ministers of other ecclesial communions who with their families are taking part in a study tour and pilgrimage to Rome. May your visit to this City of the Apostles Peter and Paul strengthen you in faith, renew you in hope and confirm you in your witness to the Gospel of Christ. And upon all the English-speaking people, especially those from Ireland and the United States, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Ai fedeli di lingua tedesca

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüße ich herzlich alle heutigen Audienzteilnehmer deutscher Sprache: die genannten Gruppen und auch alle Einzelpilger. Mein besonderer Gruß gilt der Pilgergruppe des Spätberufenenseminars Sankt Joseph in Fockenfeld-Konnersreuth. Auf eurem Weg zum Priestertum seid ihr in verstärktem Maße in die Nachfolge Christi gerufen, auf seinen Weg des Gehorsams zum Vater. Euch und allen Pilgern erbitte ich als Gnade dieser Romwallfahrt einen lebendigen Glauben und vertiefte Treue zu eurer jeweiligen christlichen Berufung. Mit besten Ferienwünschen erteile ich euch und euren Lieben in der Heimat von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di lingua spagnola

Deseo ahora presentar mi más cordial saludo a todos los peregrinos de lengua española.

En particular, al grupo de Religiosas Misioneras Agustinas Recoletas que se preparan a celebrar en España su Capítulo General. Aliento a todas las Religiosas de vuestro Instituto a una ilusionada entrega al Señor en el servicio a los hermanos.

Saludo igualmente a la peregrinación de la Obra Misionera “Ekumene” y del Movimiento de Apostolado “Regnum Christi”; así como a los grupos parroquiales de Castellón de la Plana, Jaén, Plasencia, Bilbao, Astillero y Mairena del Aljarafe. Mi cordial bienvenida a las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos países de América Latina, especialmente de México y de Colombia. A todos bendigo de corazón.

A fedeli provenienti dalla Polonia

Witam serdecznie pielgrzymów z Polski, w szczególności: “Ostoję”, pielgrzymkę nauczycieli z Nowej Huty, z Krakowa; pielgrzymkę katedralną z Tarnowa; z parafii Najświętszego Serca Pana Jezusa z Nowego Sącza; z Sanktuarium Matki Bożej Miłości i Sprawiedliwości Społecznej z Piekar Śląskich; pielgrzymów z Katowic i Rudy Śląskiej; z Góry św. Anny; z parafii św. Jadwigi w Gdańsku i św. Michała w Sopocie; z parafii sw. Wojciecha z Trzciela, diecezja gorzowska; również z diecezji gorzowskie; z parafii św. Antoniego z Piły i Nowej Soli-ojcowie kapucyni; współpracowników misyjnych księży pallotynów, pielgrzymkę młodzieżową z całej Polski; nauczycieli z miasta Poznania; chór im. Karola Kurpińskiego; grupę górników z Lublina; grupę nauczycieli z Gliwic, Logos-Tour; z Łowicza pracowników Rejonu Dróg Publicznych; prócz tego grupę Polaków z Kanady oraz rodziny polskie ze Szwecji, wreszcie uczestników grup turystycznych z Warszawy i Częstochowy - PKS, Orbis.

Ad alcuni gruppi italiani

Saluto ora con affetto gli alunni di terza Media del Seminario Minore di Padova. Carissimi vi auguro di proseguire con coraggio e fiducia il vostro cammino sulla via del Sacerdozio, guardando all’esempio degli Apostoli Pietro e Paolo che siete venuti ad onorare con la vostra visita a Roma. Chiedete loro la grazia di corrispondere sempre più generosamente alla divina chiamata e di prepararvi adeguatamente alla meta cui aspirate. Invoco su di voi la protezione della Vergine Santissima e vi accompagno con la mia Benedizione, che estendo a tutto il vostro Seminario e alle vostre Famiglie.

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Rivolgo poi un cordiale saluto a gruppi folkloristici provenienti da vari paesi, che in questi giorni sono riuniti a Latina per un Festival internazionale. Auguro a tutti voi, cari Fratelli e Sorelle, un pieno successo a questa vostra manifestazione artistico - culturale, che contribuisce ad affratellare i popoli nella reciproca conoscenza delle tradizioni proprie di ciascuno. Da parte mia, vi accompagno con la mia benedizione.

* * *

Un cordiale saluto anche al gruppo delle Suore Collegine della Sacra Famiglia, giunte a Roma per rendere omaggio, in Santa Maria in Trastevere, alla tomba del loro Fondatore, il Cardinale Pietro Marcellino Corradini.

Questo vostro pellegrinaggio, care sorelle, possa essere per voi l’occasione per ringraziare il Signore per la vostra vocazione e per trarre dall’ispirazione originaria del vostro Istituto nuova forza e nuova speranza per una grande missione di amore e di misericordia. Con questi pensieri ed auspici, fraternamente vi benedico e vi accompagno con la preghiera.

Ai giovani

Nel guardare ora a voi, carissimi giovani, il mio pensiero va alla notizia riportata in questi giorni dai mass-media, secondo cui la popolazione mondiale ha raggiunto il traguardo di cinque miliardi di unità.

L’evento è stato variamente commentato. La Chiesa, per parte sua, riconosce in ogni vita che sboccia sulla terra un dono del Dio della bontà. Essa è consapevole dei problemi che l’incremento demografico porta con sé, ma non si stanca di ricordare che una soluzione autenticamente umana non può essere cercata al di fuori del progetto originario di Dio, del quale un cardine fondamentale è la solidarietà della famiglia umana.

Voi giovani, che dell’umanità oggi presente sulla terra costituite la parte maggiore, siete particolarmente sensibili a questo valore. A voi, perciò lascio stamane questa consegna: fatevi apostoli di solidarietà. Impegnatevi a “promuovere effettivamente e senza eccezioni - come dicevo nel Messaggio per la Giornata della Pace di inizio d’anno - l’eguale dignità di tutti come esseri umani, dotati di certi fondamentali e inalienabili diritti” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a.D. 1987, 2, die 8 dec. 1986: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX, 2 (1986) 1887). Contribuirete così a costruire un mondo più giusto ed accogliente. Al cinque-miliardesimo essere umano, ed a tutti i neonati, che in questi giorni hanno visto la luce, il mio augurio, avvalorato da una speciale preghiera.

Agli ammalati

Rivolgo ora il mio cordiale saluto agli ammalati. Carissimi, questo mese di luglio è consacrato dalla pietà di tanti fedeli alla devozione verso il Sangue Preziosissimo di Nostro Signore. Il mistero della Redenzione che ha la sua manifestazione più alta nella effusione del Sangue del Figlio di Dio è una fonte inesauribile di meditazione, da cui può attingere motivi di luce e di conforto ogni persona visitata dal dolore. Per questo, carissimi ammalati, vi invito a considerare le vostre sofferenze sullo sfondo dei patimenti e delle sofferenze di Cristo Crocifisso, a cui siete, invisibilmente ma realmente, particolarmente vicini. In unione con Lui portate anche voi un prezioso contributo affinché il mondo, purificato dal peccato e dalla schiavitù del male, si avvicini alla santità delle origini. Vi sia di forte aiuto questa verità e, nell’assicurarvi uno speciale ricordo nella preghiera, vi imparto la mia Benedizione.

Agli sposi novelli

Un saluto ed un augurio particolare rivolgo ora agli sposi novelli. Come, con il Sacramento del Matrimonio, avete unito le vostre vite nel Signore, così, carissimi sposi, lasciate che Egli occupi sempre nella vostra esistenza un posto centrale e determinante. Amatelo senza riserve, perché sostenga il vostro affetto reciproco; preferitelo ad ogni altro bene, perché sia l’origine della vostra gioia; confidate nella sua Provvidenza, per affrontare serenamente gli immancabili momenti di difficoltà; pregatelo insieme e con fede, perché la sua luce ispiri i vostri progetti di bene e la sua grazia gli conduca a compimento. Così facendo, la vostra sarà una famiglia cristiana di nome e di fatto, e darete splendido esempio di quell’amore che la SS. ma Trinità ha per tutti gli uomini. Vi benedico di cuore.

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