John Paul II Expounds on Christ as the Meaning of Life

Comments on Canticle of Zechariah

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 1, 2003 ( Reflecting on the Canticle of Zechariah from Luke’s Gospel, John Paul II presented Christ as the light that gives meaning to human existence.

The Pope, appearing fatigued but somewhat stronger than in previous days, told the 12,000 pilgrims gathered at today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square that “our uncertain steps, which during the day often walk on dark and slippery ways, are sustained by the light of the truth that Christ sheds on the world and on history.”

His address and greetings in 10 languages helped to calm fears stirred up by recent media reports about his health.

He reading his long address in Italian, at times haltingly, at other times shortening passages in the prepared text. But the spontaneous applause of the faithful seemed to encourage him on.

With today’s audience, the Holy Father concluded the catechetical cycle he has offered since March 2001, on the Psalms and canticles of the Liturgy of Lauds.

For the first time in the cycle, the poetic passage was taken from the Gospel — the Canticle of Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, which he intoned when the birth of his son changed his life.

“The vertex [of this passage] is summarized in a conclusive phrase: ‘the daybreak from on high will visit us,’ the Pope said. This vertex is Christ, the light “that enlightens every creature.”
<br> “Humanity, which dwells ‘in darkness and in the shadow of death’ is illuminated by this radiance of revelation,” he added. “This sun will ‘guide our feet into the way of peace.'”

The Holy Father concluded with an imploration written by the Venerable Bede (circa 672-735), who encouraged the Christian of his time to ask for Christ’s help “so that he will preserve in us the light of the knowledge he has given us, and lead us to the day of perfection.”

John Paul II’s related catecheses may be read in the Wednesday’s Audience section of ZENIT’s Web page.

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