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The heart of the Gospel witness

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
General Audience, Wednesday 20 May 1987 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. The cycle of reflections on Jesus Christ has gradually approached its center while remaining in constant relationship with the article of the creed: "I believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God." The previous reflections have prepared us for this central truth by showing first of all the messianic character of Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, the promise of the Messiah--present in the whole revelation of the old covenant as the principal object of the expectations of Israel--finds its fulfillment in him who was accustomed to call himself Son of Man.

In the light of Jesus' words and deeds it becomes ever more clear that he is at the same time the true Son of God. This is a truth which a mentality rooted in a rigid religious monotheism found very difficult to accept. Such was the mentality of the Israelites at the time of Jesus. Our reflections on Jesus Christ now enter the very sphere of this truth which determines the essential newness of the Gospel and the entire originality of Christianity as a religion founded on faith in the Son of God made man for us.

2. The creeds concentrate on this fundamental truth concerning Jesus Christ.

In the Apostles' Creed we profess: "I believe in God, the Father almighty and in Jesus Christ, his only Son." Only later does the Apostles' Creed emphasize the fact that the only-begotten Son of the Father is the same Jesus Christ as Son of Man, "who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary."

The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed expresses the same thing in slightly different words: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man."

Previously in the same creed we find more fully expressed the truth of the divine sonship of Jesus Christ, Son of Man: "I believe in one God, the Father almighty...I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father. Through him all things were made." These last words set out still more clearly the unity in divinity of the Son with the Father, who is "the creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible".

3. The creeds express the Church's faith in a concise manner, but thanks to this very conciseness they stress the more essential truths; those which constitute, as it were, the very "marrow" of the Christian faith, the fullness and summit of God's self-revelation. And so, according to the expression of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, God "spoke of many and various ways," but last of all "he spoke" to humanity "through his Son" (cf. Heb 1:1-2). It is difficult not to recognize as indicated here the authentic fullness of revelation. God not only speaks of himself by means of men called to speak in his name. But in Jesus Christ, God himself speaking "through his Son" becomes the subject of the revelation. He himself speaks of himself. His word contains in itself God's self-revelation - self-revelation in the strict and immediate sense.

4. This self-revelation of God constitutes the great newness and originality of the Gospel. In professing her faith with the words of the creeds, both the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the Church draws on the fullness of the Gospel witness and arrives at its essential depth. In the light of this testimony she professes and bears witness to Jesus Christ as Son, who is "one in Being with the Father." The term "Son of God" could be, and has been, used in a wide sense, as is seen in some texts of the Old Testament such as Wisdom 2:18; Sirach 4:11; Psalm 82:6 and more clearly, 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7; Psalm 110:3. The New Testament and especially the Gospels speak of Jesus Christ as Son of God in the strict and full sense. He is "begotten, not made," he is "of the same Being with the Father."

5. We shall now devote our attention to this central truth of the Christian faith by analyzing the testimony of the Gospel from this point of view. It is above all the Son's witness to the Father and, in particular, the witness of a relation of sonship which is proper to him and to him alone.

In fact, as significant as are the words of Jesus, "No one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Mt 11:27), so likewise are the other words, "No one knows the Son except the Father" (Mt 11:27). Indeed it is the Father who reveals the Son. It is worth noting that in the same context we find Jesus' words, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes" (Mt 11:25; also Lk 20:21-22). The evangelist notes that these words are spoken by Jesus with a particular joy of heart: "rejoicing in the Holy Spirit" (cf. Lk 10:21).

6. The truth about Jesus Christ, Son of God, belongs therefore to the very essence of the Trinitarian revelation. In it and through it God reveals himself as Unity of the inscrutable Trinity, of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Thus the ultimate source of the testimony which the Gospels (and the whole of the New Testament) give of Jesus Christ as Son of God, is the Father himself, the Father who knows the Son and himself in the Son. In revealing the Father, Jesus shares with us in a certain way the knowledge which the Father has of himself in his eternal, only-begotten Son. By means of this eternal sonship God is eternally Father. Truly in a spirit of faith and joy, and moved with admiration we make our own the words of Jesus: All things have been delivered to you by the Father, O Jesus, Son of God, and no one knows the Son except the Father, nor the Father except the Son and anyone to whom you, O Son, choose to reveal him."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di lingua francese

Je salue cordialement les pèlerins et visiteurs de langue française notamment les groupes de divers diocèses ou paroisses, les associations, venant de France, de Belgique, de Suisse, du Canada. En particulier, je suis heureux d’adresser mes encouragements aux Frères de l’Instruction chrétienne de Ploërmel pour leur ministère d’éducateurs en divers pays du monde. Et je dis aux prętres de Montréal mes vœux pour le service pastoral qu’ils vont reprendre après leur stage de réflexion à Rome. A tous, aux jeunes et aux aînés, je donne ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai pellegrini di espressione inglese

I would like to offer a warm greeting to the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir and to the group of students from various countries in Africa attending a Seminar in Rome.

It is a joy to welcome the participants in the Permanent International Ecumenical Consultation of Religious, a welcome which I extend to all the priests and religious who are present today, in particular the group of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate from the United States and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd engaged in vocation promotion and formation. As priests and religious you fulfil an irreplaceable role in the Church’s mission of proclaiming the Death and Resurrection of our Saviour. May you always be joyful and faithful witnesses to the Risen Lord.

And I extend a cordial welcome to all the English-speaking visitors, especially those from England, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Australia and the United States. May Christ our Saviour bless you abundantly with his peace.

Ai fedeli di lingua tedesca

Mit dieser Erinnerung an die Mitte unseres christlischen Glaubens grüße ich alle deutschsprachigen Besucher von ganzem Herzen, darunter heute besonders die Teilnehmer an der Romfahrt der ”Kirchenzeitung für das Erzbistum Köln“. Euch allen schenke Gott in diesen Tagen viele geistliche Anregungen für neue Glaubensfreude und festen Lebensmut und lasse euch gesund zu euren Lieben in der Heimat zurückkehren!

Ai pellegrini di lingua spagnola

Vaya ahora mi más cordial saludo de bienvenida a todos los peregrinos de lengua española.

En particular, saludo a los Hermanos Maristas aquí presentes, que hacen en Roma un curso de formación. Que este tiempo que ahora dedicáis al estudio y a la reflexión reafirme vuestra generosa entrega a Dios y vuestra voluntad de servicio a la Iglesia y a los hermanos.

* * *

Saludo igualmente a la numerosa peregrinación organizada por la “Asociación Provincial de Amas de Casa”, de Valencia “ TYRIUS ”, que celebra el XX Aniversario de su fundación.

* * *

Finalmente, mi saludo cordial se dirige al grupo de peregrinos procedentes de Chile, recordando las celebraciones de fe y amor que tuvieron lugar durante mi reciente visita pastoral a aquel amado país.

A todas las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos países de América Latina y de España, imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai fedeli polacchi

Witam i pozdrawiam wszystkich pielgrzymów: chorych z parafii św. Anny w Krakowie; z parafii i sanktuarium Świętego Krzyża Kraków-Mogiła, Nowa Huta, z ojcem Opatem; pielgrzymkę diecezjalną z Kielc; z diecezji chełmińskiej; z parafii świętego Stanisława Kostki w Poznaniu; z Anglii z parafii polskiej w Bochum. Prócz tego grupę pielgrzymkowo-turystyczną z Mszany Dolnej; grupę Polaków z algierii; współpracowników misyjnych księży pallotvnów z całej Polski; pielgrzymkę Polaków z Kanady “Kaszuby”, pielgrzymkę z parafii św. Stanisława Kostki ze Stanów Zjednoczonych.  . . . Pozdrawiam wszystkich i przez wszystkich całą naszą Ojczyznę a także wszystkich Polaków na emigracji.

Ad alcuni gruppi italiani

Desidero salutare cordialmente i membri del Capitolo generale dell’Istituto del Beato Don Orione, che hanno appena eletto il loro nuovo Superiore.

Vi ringrazio, cari fratelli, per la vostra presenza, mentre colgo l’occasione per esprimere il mio vivo compiacimento per l’opera che state compiendo in vari Paesi del mondo secondo le finalità che vi contraddistinguono.

Il vostro Istituto sta mostrando una fervorosa vitalità, piena di promesse, ed io ne lodo il Signore, che manifesta in voi la sua potenza. Mi auguro che ora vi dedichiate con impegno all’esecuzione dei piani del vostro Capitolo, che prevedono un approfondimento del vostro carisma, un potenziamento dello slancio missionario, uno sviluppo dell’attività economica, ed un’accentuazione della vita spirituale e della formazione permanente, secondo l’esempio sempre attuale del Fondatore.

Vi sono a fianco nei vostri buoni propositi con la mia affettuosa Benedizione.

* * *

Saluto poi i fedeli della parrocchia di Santa Maria della Pace di Agosta, e benedico l’immagine venerata della Vergine che essi hanno qui recato.

A tutti la mia Benedizione.

Ai giovani

Rivolgo adesso un cordiale saluto ai giovani qui presenti. Carissimi, incontrare voi giovani, è sempre per me motivo di speranza e di consolazione. La vostra età è la primavera della vita. In questo mese di maggio - mese primaverile - ricordiamo in modo speciale, come sapete, la Vergine Maria, che possiamo definire Primavera della Vita divina, promessa ed annuncio di Redenzione. Maria sia dunque l’anima della vostra primavera, della costante giovinezza e vitalità del vostro spirito. Con la mia Benedizione.

Agli ammalati

A voi, cari malati, un pensiero affettuoso. Grande è la mia gioia anche per la vostra presenza. Vi chiedo oggi di offrire la vostra sofferenza e le vostre preghiere per un’intenzione che mi sta a cuore: il buon esito dei lavori dell’Assemblea generale della Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, attualmente in corso. Voglia il Signore gradire le vostre preghiere e concedere abbondanti doni dello Spirito. Con affetto, vi benedico e vi seguo nella preghiera.

Agli sposi novelli

Cari sposi novelli! A voi ora il mio saluto! anche in voi splende la primavera della vita, carica di promesse e di attraenti progetti. La vostra vita, nella luce di Dio, nell’entusiasmo del vostro amore, ha ora preso - con la benedizione della Chiesa - una chiara direzione, che vi impegna per sempre. Percorretela con fiducia, invocando l’aiuto della Beata Vergine Maria, che festeggiamo in questo mese, e che ci prepariamo ad onorare in modo speciale nell’Anno Mariano che sta per iniziare. Pregate la Madonna soprattutto col Santo Rosario. Da parte mia, vi seguo con la mia Benedizione.

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