On John's Synthesis of Christian Faith

«The Fulfillment of the Whole of the Old Covenant»

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before praying the midday Angelus last Sunday together with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

The liturgy proposes to us to return to the meditation of the same Gospel proclaimed on Christmas day, that is, St. John’s Prologue. After the hustle and bustle of recent days to buy gifts, the Church invites us to contemplate again the mystery of the birth of Christ to understand better its profound meaning and importance for our lives. This is an admirable text that offers a staggering synthesis of the entire Christian faith.

It begins on high: «In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God» (John 1:1); [and] here is the unprecedented and humanly inconceivable novelty: «And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us» (John 1:14a).

This is not a rhetorical image, but a lived experience! John, an eyewitness, relates it: «and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth» (John 1:14b). It is not the erudite word of a rabbi or a doctor of the law, but the passionate testimony of a humble fisherman who, attracted when he was young by Jesus of Nazareth, in the three years of common life with him and the other apostles, experienced love — to the point of defining himself as «the disciple whom Jesus loved.» He saw him die on the cross and appear resurrected, and he received together with the others his Spirit. From this whole experience, meditated upon in his heart, John arrived to a certainty: Jesus is the Wisdom of God incarnated, in his eternal Word, who became a mortal man.

For a true Israelite, who knows sacred Scripture, this is not a contradiction; on the contrary, it is the fulfillment of the whole of the Old Covenant. In Jesus Christ, the mystery of a God who speaks to man as friends, who reveals himself to Moses in the Law, to the wise and the prophets, arrives to its fullness. In knowing Jesus, being with him, hearing his preaching and seeing the signs he performed, the disciples recognized that in him, all the Scriptures were fulfilled. As a Christian author would later affirm: «All of divine Scripture constitutes just one book, and this book is Christ; it speaks of Christ and finds in Christ its fulfillment» (Hugo of St. Victor, De Arca Noe, 2, 8).

Every man and every woman needs to find a deep meaning for their own existence. And for this, books are not enough, not even sacred Scripture. The Child of Bethlehem reveals and communicates to us the true «face» of the good and faithful God, who loves us and who does not abandon us even in death: «No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him» (John 1:18).

The first one who opened her heart and contemplated «the Word made flesh» was Mary, the Mother of Jesus. A humble girl from Galilee thus became the «seat of wisdom.» Like the Apostle John, each one of us is invited to «take her into our homes» (cf. John 19:27), to deeply know Jesus and experience faithful and unfailing love. This is my hope for each of you, dear brothers and sisters, at the beginning of this new year.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father added:]

Today, in all the churches of the Holy Land, the patriarchs and leaders of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem are inviting the faithful to pray for the end of the conflict in the Gaza Strip and implore justice and peace for their land. I unite myself to them and I also ask you to do the same, remembering, as they say, «the victims, the wounded who have their hearts broken, those who live in anguish and fear, so that God blesses them with the consolation, patience and peace that come from him.»

The dramatic news that comes from Gaza shows how the rejection of dialogue leads to situations that weigh indescribably on the population, who once again become victims of hate and war.

Hate and war are not the solution to problems. Recent history confirms it as well. Let us pray, therefore, so that «the Child of the manger … inspires in the authorities and leaders of both fronts, Israeli and Palestinian, an immediate action to finish with the current tragic situation.»

With joy, I greet the participants in the international conference on the «Preventive System of Don Bosco and Human Rights,» organized by the Salesians. This is a very important theme, since also in the field of human rights the educational aspect is decisive. I wish you, therefore, fruitful work, and I assure you of my prayers. I also welcome with joy the numerous seminarians who have come from various countries to participate in the formation encounter of the Focolare Movement. Dear young people: From my heart I bless your journey. May the Virgin always watch over you.

[Translation by ZENIT] [The Holy Father then greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I cordially greet all the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer! In these first days of the New Year, as the Church celebrates the birth of the Saviour, let us pray that the peace proclaimed by the angels at Bethlehem will take ever deeper root in human hearts, banish all discord and violence, and inspire the human family to live in harmony and solidarity. Upon you and your loved ones I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2009 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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