When do you think humanity will peak



Wednesday December 16, 1998


Dear sisters and brothers!

1. “I went out from the Father and came into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to my father "(Joh 16,28). 

With these words of Jesus we begin today a new cycle of catechesis, centered around the figure of God the Father, following the themes set out in writing Tertio millennio adveniente in preparation for the Great Jubilee of 2000.

In the first year cycle we thought about Jesus Christ, the only Savior. Indeed, as a celebration of the coming of the Son of God into human history, the jubilee has a strong Christological content. We have meditated on the importance of time, which culminated with the birth of the Savior two thousand years ago. This event, which ushers in the Christian era, also opens a new phase of renewal of humanity and the universe in anticipation of the eschatological coming of Christ.

Then, in the catechesis of the second year of preparation for the celebration of the Jubilee, we turned our attention to the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus from the Father. We have looked at him as he is at work in creation and history as person-being love and gift. We have underlined his power, which allows a cosmos rich in order and beauty to emerge from chaos. In him divine life is imparted, in him history becomes the way to salvation.

Now let us live the third year of preparation for the imminent anniversary as a pilgrimage to the Father's house. So we set out on the path that, proceeding from the Father, leads the creatures back to the Father according to the plan of love that was fully revealed in Christ. The way to the anniversary should lead to a great praise to the Father (cf. TMA, 49) so that in Him the whole Trinity may be glorified.

2. The starting point for our reflection are the words of the Gospel, which show us Jesus as the Son and revelator of the Father. His teaching, his service, his way of life - everything about him points to the Father (cf. Joh 5,19.36; 8.28; 14.10; 17.6). The Father is the center of Jesus' life, and Jesus, in turn, is the only way to come to the Father. "Nobody comes to the Father except through me" (Joh 14.6). Jesus is the meeting point of people with the Father, who made himself visible in him: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say: show us the father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me? "(Joh 14,9–10). 

We have the most expressive sign of this relationship between Jesus and the Father in his condition as a risen one, the climax of his mission and the basis of new and eternal life for all who believe in him. But the unity between the Son and the Father, as well as that between the Son and the believer, runs through the mystery of the "exaltation" of Jesus, according to a typical expression of the Gospel of John. The evangelist uses the term "exaltation" to refer to both the crucifixion and the glorification of Jesus; Both have an effect on the believer: »... the Son of Man must be exalted so that everyone who believes (in him) may have eternal life in him. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life "(Joh 3,14-16). 

This "eternal life" is nothing other than the participation of the believers in the life of the risen Jesus himself and consists in being involved in that cycle of love, which is the Father and the Son, who are one (cf. Joh 10.30; 17, 21-22), connects.

3. The deep communion in which the Father, the Son and the believers meet includes the Holy Spirit. For it is the eternal bond that unites the Father and the Son and includes people in this unspeakable mystery of love. Given as "assistance", the Spirit "dwells" in the disciples of Christ (cf. Joh 14: 16-17), making the Trinity present.

According to John the Evangelist, Jesus says precisely in the context of the promise of the Paraclete: "On that day you will know: I am in my Father, you are in me and I am I to you" (Joh 14,20). 

The Holy Spirit is the one who introduces man to the mystery of the triune life. As the "spirit of truth" (Joh 15.26; 16:13) he works in the innermost hearts of believers to let the truth, which is Christ, shine in their hearts.

4. Paul also emphasizes our being aligned with the Father through the Spirit of Christ who dwells in us. For the apostle it is a real sonship that allows us to call God the Father with the same confidential name that Jesus used: »Degradation" (see. Rom 8.15).

Included in this new dimension of our relationship with God is the whole of creation, which "longingly awaits the revelation of the sons of God" (Rom 8.19). Yes, creation "sighs [to this day] and [lies] in labor pangs" (Rom 8.22) in anticipation of the perfect redemption, which will restore and complete the harmony of the cosmos in Christ.

In describing this mystery, which unites human beings and all creation with the Father, the apostle expresses the function of Christ and the work of the Spirit. Through Christ, "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15), everything is indeed created.

He is "the origin, the firstborn of the dead" (Col 1.18). In him everything is "united", everything in heaven and on earth (cf. Eph 1:10); it is up to him to hand it over to the Father (cf. 1 Cor 15:24) so ​​that God may rule "over everything and in everything" (1 Cor 15.28). The way of man and of the world to the Father is carried by the power of the Holy Spirit, who takes care of our weakness and "stands up for us with sighs that we cannot put into words" (Rom 8,26). 

The New Testament thus introduces us with great clarity into this movement that goes from Father to Father. We want to pay special attention to them in this final year of preparation for the Great Jubilee.

With these words of Jesus we begin today a new cycle of catechesis on Wednesday. In this we focus our interest on God the Father. We are in the third year of preparation for the great anniversary of the year two thousand.

1999, just before the threshold of the third millennium, “has the task of widening the horizon of the believer himself: according to the vision of the Father in Heaven (cf. Mt 5.45), from whom he was sent and to whom he returned (cf. Joh 16,28)” (TMA, 49).

“The whole Christian life is like a great pilgrimage to the house of the Father, whose unconditional love for every human creature is rediscovered every day. This pilgrimage touches the innermost part of the person, and then extends to the believing community, eventually reaching all of humanity. " (TMA, 49)

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With these thoughts I greet the pilgrims and visitors who have come to Rome from the German-speaking countries. Among them I particularly welcome the pilgrim group of the house music of the parish Sankt Margareth from Altkirchen. To all of you, your loved ones at home and to all who are connected to us through Vatican Radio and television, I impart my Apostolic Blessing from the bottom of my heart.