July 7-9, 2000
volume 11, no. 118

The Holy Father's words in THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS for July 7-9, 2000
Humanity, "Sought" by God and "Seeking" God

The Holy Father's Wednesday Papal Address from July 5, 2000

    Dearest Brothers and Sisters!

    1. In his Letter to the Romans, not without wonder, the Apostle Paul refers to a prophecy in the Book of Isaiah (Cf 65,1), in which, through the mouth of the prophet, God says: "I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me" (Romans 10,20). Well then, after having contemplated in the previous catecheses the glory of the Trinity that manifests itself in the cosmos and history, we now wish to undertake an interior journey along the mysterious roads on which God goes to meet humankind, to make them share in his life and glory. God, indeed, loves the creature he has made in his image, and as the attentive shepherd of the parable we have just heard (Cf Lk 15,4-7), does not cease to search for him even when he shows himself indifferent or even annoyed by the divine light, like the sheep that was separated from the flock and was lost in inaccessible places full of dangers.

    2. Pursued by God, we are already aware of his presence, irradiated by the light that is behind us, and involved with that voice that calls us from afar. And thus we begin to seek the God who seeks us. Sought, we begins to seek: loved, we begin to love. Today we begin to draw this thought-provoking interlacing between God's initiative and man's response, discovering it as a fundamental component of religious experience. In fact, the echo of such an experience is also heard in some voices that are distant from Christianity, a sign of the desire of the whole of humanity to know God and to be the object of his goodness. Even an enemy of the biblical Israel, Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, who in 587-586 BC destroyed Jerusalem, the Holy City, turned to the divinity with these words: "Without you, Lord, what would become of the king whom you love and whom you have called by name? How can he be good before your eyes? You guide him by name, and conduct him on the right path! By your grace, O Lord, with which you make all rich participants, may your high majesty be merciful and may fear of your divinity dwell in my heart. Give me that which is good in your sight, because you have molded my life" (Cf G. Pettinato, Babilonia, Milan 1994, p. 182).

    3. Our Muslim brothers also witness to a similar faith, repeating in the span of their daily life the invocation, which opens the book of the Koran and celebrates, precisely, the way in which God, "the Lord of Creation, the Clement, the Merciful," guides those on whom He sheds His grace.

        Above all, the great biblical tradition also inspires the faithful to turn to God for the necessary light and strength to do good. So in Psalm 119 the psalmist prays: "Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes, and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep Thy law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it... Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; and give me life in Thy ways" (vv. 33-35,37).

    4. Therefore, in the universal religious experience, and especially in that transmitted by the Bible, we find the awareness of the primacy of God Who goes in search of humanity to lead them to the horizon of His light and mystery. In the beginning was the Word that broke the silence of the void, the "good will" of God (Lk 2:14), Who never abandons the creature to himself.

        Of course, this absolute initiative does not cancel the need for human action, it does not eliminate the effort of a response on our part. We are invited to allow ourselves to be overtaken by God and to open the doors of our lives to Him, but he also has the possibility of closing himself to such invitations. In this connection, the word put in Christ's mouth in Revelation is wonderful: "Look, I am standing at the door and I knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door to Me, I will come to him, I will eat with him and he with Me" (Rev 3:20). If Christ did not walk on the roads of the world, we would remain alone with our little horizons. Therefore, we must open the door, to have Him at our table, in a communion of life and love.

    5. The journey of the meeting between God and humanity unfolds under the aegis of love. On one hand, divine Trinitarian love precedes us, enfolds us, constantly opens the road that leads to the paternal house. The Father waits for us there, to embrace us, as in the Gospel parable of the "prodigal son," or better the "Father of mercies" (Cf Lk 15,11-32). On the other, we are asked for fraternal love in response to the love of God: Indeed, John admonishes us in his First Letter, "Beloved: if God has so loved us, we also must love one another. God is love; he who loves dwells in God and God dwells in him" (1 John 4,11.16). From the embrace of divine and human love salvation, life, and eternal happiness spring. (ZENIT Translation) ZE00070521

July 7-9, 2000
volume 11, no. 118

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