CHRIST REVEALS MAN TO HIMSELF
Pope John Paul II
Angelus, December 15, 1996
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Among the figures the liturgy sets on our Advent journey in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, today we meet John the Baptist. An austere man, "a voice in the desert, crying out" (Jn 1:23), sacrificed by the authorities for speaking the truth without reticence, he remains profoundly contemporary. John's Gospel presents him to us as the "witness to the light" (cf. Jn 1:6).
The light he points to is not only a moral truth; it is the person of Christ, who does not hesitate to say of himself: "I am the light of the world" (Jn 8:12), "I am the truth" (Jn 14:6).
This is doubtless an unprecedented assertion, disconcerting at first sight, but fully credible on the lips of Jesus, who with words and deeds, and especially by his Death and Resurrection, has shown he is the "only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father" (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed).
Many martyrs have given their lives in witness to their faith in him. After two millenniums of history, the Church continues to "stake" herself on this truth, which the Council of Nicaea, in response to the Arians, consigned forever to the Symbol of our faith, in which we confess Christ as "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God" (ibid.).
2. Yes, Christ is the light because, in his divine identity, he reveals the Father's face. But he is so too because, being a man like us and in solidarity with us in everything except sin, he reveals man to himself. Unfortunately sin has obscured our capacity to know and follow the light of truth, and indeed, as the Apostle Paul realized, it has exchanged "the truth about God for a lie" (Rom 1:25). By the Incarnation, the Word of God came to bring full light to man. In this regard the Second Vatican Council says that it is "only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the, mystery of man truly becomes clear" (Gaudium et spes, n. 22).
3. May the Blessed Virgin, the humble girl of Nazareth who was Christ's mother and disciple, help us open our eyes to his light. Before the mystery of her divine Son, she also had to make her "pilgrimage of faith" every day (Lumen gentium, n. 58). Let us ask her to be close to all who are sincerely seeking the truth, leading "the men and women of the new millennium towards the One who is "the true light that enlightens every man" (Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 59).
Today, following a lovely tradition the children of Rome have come to St Peter's Square with the Bambinelli [figurines of the Christ Child] from their cribs for the Pope to bless. I joyfully do so; this action savours of the family and of simplicity, that simplicity with which St Francis of Assisi taught people to contemplate the mystery of the Saviour's birth. To you, dear children and to all the children of Rome, of Italy and of the world, as well as to the figurines you have brought with you, I cordially impart a special, heartfelt Blessing.
In this season of Advent, when we are preparing to welcome anew the Lord who comes to dwell among us, the Diocese of Rome is strengthening its commitment to build new churches. As you know, some parish communities of the city have to adjust to celebrating the liturgy in makeshift premises. Let us join forces, dear faithful, so that for the Jubilee of the Year 2000 every Roman parish may have suitable facilities for prayer, catechesis and other activities.
I affectionately greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims and wish everyone a Christmas filled with peace and brotherhood.
I wish you all a pleasant Sunday, a good week and a Merry Christmas! This past week we had many guests: the Catholicos of Armenia, and yesterday our dear Slovenians, who came with their President and Bishops and have brought us this Christmas tree. Thank you! Heartfelt thanks! Praised be Jesus Christ!
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