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In Christ and in the Spirit the experience of God "Abba" (Gal 4, 4-7)

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the History of Salvation
General Audience, Wednesday 20 September 2000 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. We have started our meeting under the sign of the Trinity, described incisively and clearly by the words of the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Galatians (cf. 4: 4-7). The Father, in pouring out the Holy Spirit into Christians' hearts, brings about and reveals the adoption as sons obtained for us by Christ. Indeed, it is the Spirit who is "bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom 8: 16). Looking at this truth as at the Pole star of the Christian faith, let us meditate on some existential aspects of our communion with the Father through the Son and in the Spirit.

2. The typically Christian way of contemplating God always passes through Christ. He is the Way, and no one comes to the Father except through him (cf. Jn 14: 6). To the Apostle Philip who implores him:  "show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied", Jesus says:  "he who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14: 8-9). Christ, the beloved Son (cf. Mt 3: 17; 17: 5), is the revealer of the Father par excellence. The true face of God is revealed to us only by the One "who is in the bosom of the Father". The original Greek expression in John's Gospel (cf. 1: 18) indicates an essentially intimate and dynamic relationship of love, of life, between the Son and the Father. This relationship of the eternal Word involves the human nature he took on in the Incarnation. Therefore in the Christian perspective the experience of God can never be reduced to a general "sense of the divine", nor can the mediation of Christ's humanity be surpassed, as has been shown by the great mystics, such as St Bernard, St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena, St Teresa of Avila and many lovers of Christ in our time, from Charles de Foucauld to St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein).

3. Various aspects of Jesus' witness with regard to the Father are reflected in every authentic Christian experience. He witnessed first of all that his teaching originates in the Father:  "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me" (Jn 7: 16). What he made known is exactly what he "heard" from the Father (cf. Jn 8: 26; 15: 15; 17: 8, 14). Therefore the Christian experience of God cannot develop except in total coherence with the Gospel.

Christ also witnessed effectively to the Father's love. In the wonderful Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus presents the Father who is constantly waiting for man the sinner to return to his embrace. In John's Gospel, he insists on the Father who loves mankind:  "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3: 16). And again, "if a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (Jn 14: 23). Those who truly experience God's love can only repeat with ever new emotion the exclamation in John's First Letter:  "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are" (1 Jn 3: 1). In this light, we can address God with that tender, natural, intimate name:  Abba, Father. It is constantly on the lips of the faithful who feel they are children, as St Paul recalls in the text with which our meeting began (cf. Gal 4: 4-7).

4. Christ gives us the very life of God, a life that goes beyond time and leads us into the mystery of the Father, into his joy and infinite light. The Evangelist John testifies to this, passing on Jesus' sublime words:  "For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself (Jn 5: 26). "This is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.... As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me" (Jn 6: 40; 57).

This participation in the life of Christ, which makes us "sons in the Son" is made possible by the gift of the Spirit. The Apostle, in fact, presents to us our being children in God in close connection with the Holy Spirit:  "all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Rom 8: 14). The Spirit puts us in relation to Christ and to the Father. "In this Spirit, who is the eternal gift, the Triune God opens himself to man, to the human spirit. The hidden breath of the divine Spirit enables the human spirit to open in its turn before the saving and sanctifying self-opening of God.... In the communion of grace with the Trinity, man's "living area' is broadened and raised up to the supernatural level of divine life. Man lives in God and by God:  he lives "according to the Spirit', and "sets his mind on the things of the Spirit'" (Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 58).

5. The fatherly face of God truly appears to Christians illumined by the grace of the Spirit. The Christian can turn to him with trust as St Thérèse of Lisieux witnesses in this intense autobiographical passage:  "The little bird would like to fly towards the shining sun which fascinates its eyes. It would like to imitate the eagles, its sisters, whom it sees flying high to the divine fire of the Trinity.... However, alas! all that it can do is to flap its tiny wings; but taking off in flight is not one of its few possibilities.... So with bold abandon it stays gazing at its divine sun; nothing will be able to instil fear in it, neither wind, nor rain" (Autobiographical manuscripts, Paris 1957, p. 231).

After the Catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages:

I am happy to extend a special greeting to the Jubilee pilgrimage from Melaka-Johor, Malaysia, led by Bishop James Chan. I also greet the Union of past pupils of the Pontifical Irish College, led by Archbishop Seán Brady. I warmly welcome the ecumenical groups, especially the Lutheran visitors from Sweden and the group sponsored by the Anglican Centre in Rome. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Japan, Malaysia, Australia and the United States of America I invoke the joy and peace of Christ the Saviour.

J'accueille cordialement les personnes de langue française présentes ce matin. Je salue particulièrement les pèlerins des diocèses de Lille, d'Arras et d'Agen, accompagnés de leurs Évêques; les membres de l'Institut supérieur des sciences économiques et sociales de l'Institut catholique de Paris, ainsi que les pèlerins de Paray-le-Monial et de l'Île Maurice. Que votre démarche jubilaire vous aide à rendre toujours plus intime votre rencontre avec le Christ pour en témoigner généreusement parmi vos frères. À tous, je donne de grand cœur la Bénédiction apostolique.

Mit diesen Gedanken grüße ich alle Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache. Besonders heiße ich die Wallfahrer aus der Diözese Augsburg willkommen, begleitet von ihrem Bischof Viktor Josef Dammertz und dessen Weihbischof Josef Grünwald. Die Zeit in Rom möge für euch zu Tagen des Heiles werden. Der Gang durch die Heilige Pforte gebe euch Kraft, als Zeugen des Glaubens in eurer Heimat über die Schwelle des dritten Jahrtausends zu treten. Dazu erteile ich euch, euren Lieben daheim und allen, die mit uns über Radio Vatikan und das Fernsehen verbunden sind, den Apostolischen Segen.

Saúdo agora os peregrinos e visitantes de língua portuguesa. Em particular, desejo saudar o grupo de Lisboa e os peregrinos portugueses emigrantes na Suíça, bem como os visitantes brasileiros do Rio de Janeiro. Sede bem-vindos! A todos invoco abundantes dons do Alto que sirvam de estímulo para a sua vida cristã, em penhor da qual concedo minha Bênção Apostólica.

Deseo saludar a los fieles de lengua española, en particular a las Obreras de la Cruz, a los peregrinos venezolanos acompañados por Mons. Ignacio Velasco y a los trabajadores chilenos de la Compañía Siderúrgica de Huachipato. Saludo igualmente a los grupos parroquiales venidos de España, Panamá, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina y de otros países latinoamericanos. Que el sentiros hijos adoptivos del Padre os ayude a amar siempre a los demás con el mismo amor de Dios.

Muchas gracias.

Parole di saluto ai pellegrini slovacchi:

Zo srdca pozdravujem pútnikov zo Slovenska: z Bratislavy a Košic, Mútneho a Dojča, Senohradu a Stupavy, Banskej Bystrice a Rohoníka, Trenčina a Kobýl, Prešova a Klátovej Novej Vsi, Polomy a z okolia Levíc, z Nitry a Trnavy, Šale a Zborova, Sabinova a Novej ubovne, Unína a Trstenej.

Bratia a sestry, Jubileum je významnou etapou napredovania Cirkvi ku Kristovi. Počas Svätého roka sa Kristus obracia na kadého z nás s naliehavou výzvou na obrátenie.

K takémuto Jubileu vám rád ehnám.

Pochválený buď Jeiš Kristus!

Versione italiana del saluto in lingua slovacca:

Saluto di cuore i pellegrini provenienti dalla Slovacchia: da Bratislava, Košice, Mútne, Dojč, Senohrad, Stupava, Banská Bystrica, Rohoník, Kobyly, Prešov, Klátová Nová Ves, Poloma, Levice, Nitra, Trnava, Šaa, Zborov, Sabinov, Nová ubova, Unin, Trstená.

Fratelli e Sorelle, il Giubileo è una tappa significativa del cammino della Chiesa verso Cristo. Nell'Anno Santo Cristo si rivolge ad ognuno di noi con un pressante invito alla conversione.

Ad un tale Giubileo vi benedico volentieri.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto in lingua neerlandese:

Een woord van welkom nu aan alle Belgische en Nederlandse pelgrims.

Moge uw pelgrimstocht naar het centrum van de universele Kerk u sterken in uw geloof en uw liefde voor de naaste.

Van harte verleen ik daartoe de Apostolische Zegen.

Geloofd zij Jezus Christus !

Traduzione italiana del saluto in lingua neerlandese:

Adesso vorrei porgere il benvenuto a tutti i pellegrini belgi e neerlandesi.

Auguro che il vostro pellegrinaggio al centro della Chiesa universale rafforzi la vostra fede ed il vostro amore per il prossimo.

Di cuore imparto la Benedizione Apostolica.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto ai pellegrini della Repubblica Ceca:

Srdečně vítám poutníky: z Dolního Benešova, Jiních Čech, Uherského Hradiště, a z farnosti sv. Matěje z Prahy.

Zítra budeme slavit svátek svatého Matouše, apoštola a evangelisty. Jeho odpověď na Kristovo povolání, nech je světlem vašeho kesanského ivota, zejména v tomto Svatém roce.

K tomu vám všem ze srdce ehnám!

Chvála Kristu!

Versione italiana del saluto in lingua ceca:

Un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini provenienti da:Dolní Benšov, Jiní Čechy, Uherské Hradiště, e dalla Parrocchia di S.Mattia, di Praga.

Domani celebreremo la festa di San Matteo, Apostolo ed Evangelista. La sua risposta alla vocazione di Cristo continui ad illuminare la vostra vita cristiana, e in particolare in questo Anno Santo.

Con tali voti vi benedico di cuore.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto in lingua ungherese ai pellegrini ungheresi da Taktaharkány e Sátoraljaújhely (Arcidiocesi di Eger): 

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar zarándokokat, különösen pedig a taktaharkányi és sátoraljaújhelyi híveket.Isten hozott Benneteket!

Örömmel adom apostoli áldásomat Rátok, családjaitokra és az egész magyar népre.

Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus! 

Traduzione italiana del saluto in lingua ungherese:

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini ungheresi, specialmente ai fedeli diTaktaharkány e Sátoraljaújhely. 

Di cuore imparto a tutti voi ed alle vostre famiglia la Benedizione Apostolica che estendo all'intero popolo ungherese.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

* * *

Sono lieto di accogliere alcuni pellegrinaggi diocesani dall'Italia: da Livorno, con Mons. Alberto Ablondi e Mons. Vincenzo Savio; da San Miniato, con Mons. Edoardo Ricci; e da Alife-Caiazzo, con Mons. Pietro Farina. Carissimi Fratelli e Sorelle, vi ringrazio della vostra presenza e vi invito corrispondere generosamente alla grazia di Cristo Salvatore, che rinnova i cuori, le famiglie, la società. Siate pietre vive della comunità ecclesiale e, in ogni ambiente, testimoni della carità di Cristo.  

Rivolgo un cordiale saluto ai Chierici Mariani provenienti da diversi Paesi dell'Europa orientale, con le Religiose e i Cooperatori Laici; come pure ai Seminaristi del Collegio Urbano "De Propaganda Fide" ed alla comunità del Seminario Arcivescovile "Pio XI", di Reggio Calabria.

Saluto inoltre il folto gruppo dei fedeli del Santuario Maria Santissima della Neve del Monte Sirino, in Lagonegro, accompagnati da Mons. Rocco Talucci. Carissimi, avete voluto portare in Piazza San Pietro la statua della Madonna a voi tanto cara. Vi ringrazio per questo e volentieri la incorono, esortandovi ad essere voi stessi la corona di Maria con la vostra vita santa e generosa.

Saluto poi gli Ufficiali della Marina Militare, i numerosi familiari di Caduti e Dispersi in guerra, i Congressisti della Società Farmaceutica del Mediterraneo, i partecipanti alla manifestazione "Lagune d'Italia" e i Dirigenti della Casa Editrice Le Monnier.

Un augurio speciale rivolgo all'atleta delle Fiamme Oro, che compirà in trenta ore il tragitto Roma-Padova in bicicletta, a sostegno dell'iniziativa "Trenta ore per la vita", in favore dei malati di leucemia. 

Mi rivolgo, infine, ai malati oggi presenti, agli sposi novelli ed ai giovani, tra i quali saluto in particolare gli studenti vincitori del concorso del Movimento per la Vita.

Si celebra in questi giorni a Roma il Congresso Mariologico-Mariano. Invito voi, cari giovani, ad imitare il generoso "sì" di Maria; voi, cari malati, a sentirla presente nella prova; e voi, cari sposi novelli, ad accoglierla spiritualmente nella vostra casa.


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