VATICAN CITY, APRIL 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Faith in God and in the events of salvation history must necessarily begin with a belief in God's role as Creator, says Benedict XVI.
In his homily at the Easter Vigil, held tonight in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope asked, "Is it really important to speak also of creation during the Easter Vigil? Could we not begin with the events in which God calls man, forms a people for himself and creates his history with men upon the earth?"
"The answer has to be no," he stated. "To omit the creation would be to misunderstand the very history of God with men, to diminish it, to lose sight of its true order of greatness."
"The sweep of history established by God reaches back to the origins, back to creation," the Pontiff explained. "Our profession of faith begins with the words: 'We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.' If we omit the beginning of the Credo, the whole history of salvation becomes too limited and too small."
According to the Holy Father, the central message of the creation account in Scripture was summed up best by St. John in the opening words of his Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word."
"The world is a product of the Word," Benedict XVI stated, "of the Logos, as St. John expresses it. [...] 'Logos' means 'reason,' 'sense,' 'word.' It is not reason pure and simple, but creative Reason, that speaks and communicates itself. It is Reason that both is and creates sense."
"The creation account tells us, then, that the world is a product of creative Reason," he continued. "Hence it tells us that, far from there being an absence of reason and freedom at the origin of all things, the source of everything is creative Reason, love, and freedom."
As a result, the Holy Father explained that the creation account of Scripture and St. John's Gospel affirm "that in the beginning is reason," and that mankind was not the product of random evolution "in the expanding universe, at a late stage, in some tiny corner of the cosmos."
"If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature," he said. "But no, Reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine Reason."
The Pontiff urged the faithful to "place ourselves on the side of reason, freedom and love – on the side of God who loves us so much that he suffered for us, that from his death there might emerge a new, definitive and healed life."
The Easter revolution
Benedict XVI said that the events of Easter fundamentally changed the orientation of the week for early Church. In the Jewish tradition, the week culminates on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, the day of encounter with God, and a day of rest.
For Christians in the early Church, however, the first day of the week, Sunday, became the day to commemorate the Resurrection, the day that Christ showed himself to his disciples, and the day of the Eucharist.
"The structure of the week is overturned," the Pope noted. "No longer does it point toward the seventh day, as the time to participate in God's rest. It sets out from the first day as the day of encounter with the Risen Lord."
"This change is utterly extraordinary, considering that the Sabbath, the seventh day seen as the day of encounter with God, is so profoundly rooted in the Old Testament," the Pontiff added. "If we also bear in mind how much the movement from work towards the rest-day corresponds to a natural rhythm, the dramatic nature of this change is even more striking."
He stated that the "revolutionary development" of the early Church "can be explained only by the fact that something utterly new happened that day."
On Easter, Benedict XVI said, "the world had changed": "This man who had died was now living with a life that was no longer threatened by any death. A new form of life had been inaugurated, a new dimension of creation."
"The first day, according to the Genesis account, is the day on which creation begins," he said. "Now it was the day of creation in a new way, it had become the day of the new creation."
"We celebrate the first day," the Holy Father said. "And in so doing we celebrate God the Creator and his creation. Yes, we believe in God, the Creator of heaven and earth. And we celebrate the God who was made man, who suffered, died, was buried and rose again.
"We celebrate the definitive victory of the Creator and of his creation. We celebrate this day as the origin and the goal of our existence. We celebrate it because now, thanks to the risen Lord, it is definitively established that reason is stronger than unreason, truth stronger than lies, love stronger than death."
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