A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The great Christological hymn

"which opens the Letter to the Colossians....

"Prominent in it is the glorious figure of Christ, heart of the liturgy and center of the whole of Church life.

"However, the hymn's horizon very quickly extends to creation and redemption, encompassing every created being and all of history.

"In this song can be found the living faith and prayer of the ancient Christian community, whose voice and witness the Apostle takes up, while imprinting on the hymn his own stamp .

Giving thanks unto the Father,
which hath made us meet to be partakers
of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness,

and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood,

even the forgiveness of sins:

"After an introduction in which thanks is given to the Father for Redemption, this canticle, which the liturgy of Vespers presents every week, is set forth in two distinct strophes.

"The first celebrates Christ as 'the firstborn of all creation' (that is, begotten before every being), thus affirming his eternity, which transcends space and time.

Who is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of every creature:

"Instead, the face of the Father, Creator of the universe, becomes accessible in Christ, craftsman of created reality:

For by him were all things created,
that are in heaven, and that are in earth,
visible and invisible,
whether they be thrones, or dominions,
or principalities, or powers:
all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things,

and by him all things consist.

"Therefore, on one hand, Christ is superior to created reality, but on the other, he is involved in his creation. For this reason, he can be seen by us as 'image of the invisible God,' brought close to us through the creative act.

"The praise in honor of Christ proceeds, in the second strophe, toward another horizon: that of Salvation, of Redemption, of the Regeneration of Humanity - created by him but which, by sinning, was sealed into death as with lead.

And he is the head of the body, the church:
who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;
that in all things he might have the preeminence.

"He is thus celebrated as 'the firstborn from the dead.' Now, the 'fullness' of grace and of the Holy Spirit that the Father has placed in the Son is such that, by dying and rising, he can communicate new life to us.

For it pleased the Father
that in him should all fullness dwell;
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross,

by him to reconcile all things unto himself;
by him, I say,
whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

"With his divine 'fullness,' but also with his blood shed on the cross, Christ 'reconciles' and 'makes peace in' all realities: heavenly and earthly. Thus he returns them to their original situation, recreating the primordial harmony, willed by God according to his plan of love and life. Creation and Redemption are, therefore, linked together as stages of the same history of Salvation.

"As usual, we now make room for the meditation of the faith's great teachers: the Fathers of the Church. One of these will lead us in reflection on the redemptive work accomplished by Christ in his sacrificial blood.

"When commenting on our hymn, St. John Damascene, in the Commentary attributed to him on St. Paul's letters, writes:

"'Saint Paul speaks of "redemption through his blood."

"'In fact, the blood of the Lord was given as ransom, leading death's prisoners to life. It was just not possible for those subject to death's reign to be freed if not by one who had become a participant with us in death ....

"'From the factual reality of his coming we have known the nature of God which he was prior to his coming.

"'It is, in fact, the work of God to have extinguished death, restored life, and led the world back to God. That is why he says, "He is the image of the invisible God:" to show that he is God - also that he is not the Father, but the image of the Father - and has indentity with Him although he is not Him'

"John Damascene then concludes with an overall view of the salvific work of Christ:

"'Christ's death saved and renewed man; and restored to angels their original joy - for the sake of the saved - and united the lower realities with the higher.... In fact, he made peace and removed enmity from their midst.

"'That is why the angels said: "Glory to God in the highest heavens and peace on earth"'"

Pope John Paul II
Today's weekly audience (November 24, 2004 )