Revelation Invites Us to Communion and Life

Author: Pope John Paul II


Pope John Paul II

Angelus 5 November 1995

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. Continuing the reflections started a few weeks ago on the documents of the Second Vatican Council, I would like today to meditate on the Constitution Dei Verbum, in which the Council Fathers addressed the theme of divine Revelation: a crucial subject which is at the very origins of Christianity.

The Constitution recalls that "it pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will" (Dei Verbum, n. 2). What a great mystery this is! It is a mystery that does not cease to inspire adoring wonder in the Church's children. God, the constant desire of the human heart, did not remain closed in inaccessible silence, but "addresses men as his friends ... in order to invite and receive them into his own company" (ibid.). Thus Revelation, far from being reduced to a set of truths directed to the intellect alone, is above all an invitation to communion and life. It is a history of salvation! With infinite tenderness, the Creator has put himself in step with his own creatures, gradually introducing them to the knowledge of the mystery of his inner life, I mean to say, of his heart, to the point of its full manifestation in Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh for humanity's salvation.

2. Christianity is wholly found in this joyful proclamation, which was first presented in the living word of all those who witnessed the saving events and later preserved in Sacred Scripture, of which God must be called the author since it is he who inspired it. Divine Revelation is thus passed on in its integrity by Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, both of which, "flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal" (Dei Verbum, n. 9). In them as in a mirror, "the Church, during her pilgrim journey here on earth, contemplates God, from whom she receives everything, until such time as she is brought to see him face to face as he really is" (Dei Verbum, n. 7).

However, since the human authors, docile but not passive instruments, have left an impression of their personality on the sacred text, leaving it with the mark and limitations of their time, the Bible should be approached with the help of sound exegesis. Above all it should be read in harmony with the Church, to which God's word has been entrusted with a guarantee of the Holy Spirit's special assistance. The Church's Magisterium, which is not above the Word of God but is its servant, can thus devoutly listen, religiously guard and faithfully expound that word in all its wealth of truth (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 10).

From Dei Verbum a great impetus was given to making God's Word more and more the criterion of evangelization, of personal and ecclesial life and of ecumenism. Thirty years later, we must courageously ask ourselves whether this fundamental directive of the Council has been fully received in every Christian community.

3. Let us look to Mary, our gentlest Mother. In the Gospel it is written of her, with regard to the words of her divine Son, that she "kept all these things in her heart" (Lk 2:51). The Blessed Virgin is truly the model for Christ's disciples. May she awaken in each one of us a deep need to know God's Word better and allow it to give direction to our lives.

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