VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Christ’s face, disfigured by the passion, is the price the love of God paid due to the gravity of peoples’ sin, says John Paul II.
The Pope offered that commentary at today’s general audience when he reflected on the canticle which appears in the First Letter of Peter, Chapter 2, verses 21 to 24. The canticle forms part of the liturgy of vespers, the Church’s evening prayer, which the Holy Father has been commenting on at his weekly audiences.
In 1 Peter 2:21-24, the apostle used quotations on the Servant of Yahweh from Chapter 53 of the Book of Isaiah and concluded with these words: “He himself bore our sins in his body … so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
Christ, as Peter and the prophet Isaiah point out, “undertakes the harsh road of the passion, without opposing the injustice and violence, without recriminations and outbursts, but entrusting himself and his painful undertaking “to the one who judges justly,'” the Pope said.
“A pure and absolute act of trust that will be sealed on the cross with the famous last words, cried out in a loud voice in an act of extreme abandonment to the work of the Father: ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!'” the Holy Father said.
“It is not a blind and passive resignation, but a courageous act of trust, destined to be an example to all the disciples who will journey on the dark path of trial and persecution,” John Paul II said.
In his canticle, St. Peter presents Christ “as the Savior, in solidarity with us in his human ‘body.’ He, being born of the Virgin Mary, made himself our brother,” the Pope noted.
“He can therefore be by our side, to share our pain, to bear our evil, our sins. But he is also and always the Son of God and his solidarity with us becomes radically transforming, liberating, expiating, saving,” the Holy Father added.
“Thus our poor humanity is snatched from the straying and perverse ways of evil and returned to justice, namely, to the beautiful plan of God.”
Peter’s canticle ends with the phrase “By his wounds you have been healed.”
“Here we see what a dear price Christ paid to heal us,” the Pope said.
Christ’s acceptance of the torment of the passion out of love for humanity became one of the central aspects of the meditation of the first Christians.
By way of example, the Pope concluded his address quoting a passage of St. Irenaeus of Lyon. In his work “Against the Heresies” he presents this scene: “He was buffeted but did not return the blows, ‘while suffering he did not threaten,’ and while suffering tyrannical violence, he prayed to the Father to forgive those who had crucified him.”
“We have really been saved by Him, who is the Word of God, the Only Begotten of the Father, Christ Jesus Our Lord,” concluded the Father of the Church.
Other meditations of John Paul II on the Psalms and canticles of the liturgy of vespers are posted at the Wednesday’s Audience section of ZENIT’s Web page.