June 30 - July 2, 2000
volume 11, no. 115

The Holy Father's words in THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS for June 30 - July 2, 2000
Full Epiphany of the Truth

Pope John Paul II's Wednesday General Papal Audience from Wednesday, June 28, 2000

    1. "While the Church is a pilgrim on this earth far from the Lord, she is like an exile, and seeks and thinks of the things above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God, where the life of the Church is hidden with Christ in God, until she will appear with her Spouse covered in glory" (LG 6). These words of Vatican Council II delineate the itinerary of the Church that knows that "here we have no lasting city," but that we "seek the city that is to come" (Heb 13:14), the heavenly Jerusalem, "the city of the living God" (Ibid., 12:22).

    2. Having arrived at that final goal of history, as Paul proclaims, we will no longer see "in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part: then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood" (1 Cor 13:12). And John repeats that "when [God] is manifested, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is" (1 Jn 3:2).

        Therefore, beyond the frontier of history, we await the luminous and full epiphany of the Trinity. In the new creation, God will give us the gift of perfect and intimate communion with Him, which the fourth Gospel calls "eternal life," source of a "knowledge" that in biblical language is precisely a communion of love: "This is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and him whom you have sent, Jesus Christ" (Jn 17:3).

    3. The resurrection of Christ inaugurates this horizon of light that already the First Testament sings as the kingdom of peace and joy, in which "the Lord God will eliminate death forever and will wipe away the tears from every face" (Is 25:8). Now, finally, "mercy and truth will meet, justice and peace will embrace" (Psalm 85,11). But, it is above all the last pages of the Bible, that is, the glorious final vision of the Book of Revelation, which reveal the city that is the the final goal of our pilgrimage, the Heavenly Jerusalem.

        There, first of all, we shall meet the Father, "the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end" of all creation (Rev 21:6). He will manifest Himself fully as Emmanuel, the God Who dwells with humanity, taking away tears and mourning and renewing all things (Cf. Rev 21:3-5). But, at the center of that city will also arise Christ, the Lamb, to Whom the Church is joined in a marital bond. From Him she receives the light of glory, she is intimately united to Him no longer through a temple but directly and totally (Cf. Rev 21,9.22.23). The Holy Spirit drives us toward that city. He is the one who sustains the dialogue of love of the elect with Christ: "The Spirit and the Spouse say: Come!" (Rev 22:17).

    4. We turn toward this full manifestation of the glory of the Trinity, going beyond the limit of our human condition, beyond the weight of misery and culpability that pervade our earthly existence. For this meeting we implore every day the grace for a continual purification, understanding that in the heavenly Jerusalem "nothing unclean will enter, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev 21:27). As Vatican Council II teaches, the liturgy we celebrate in the course of our days is only a "sample" of that light, of that contemplation, of that perfect love: "In the earthly liturgy we participate, foretasting the heavenly that is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem, toward which we move as pilgrims, where Christ sits at the right hand of God as minister of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle" (SC 8).

        Therefore, we turn already now to Christ because through the Holy Spirit he will help us to appear pure before the Father. This is what Simeon Metafraste invites us to do, in a prayer that the liturgy of the Eastern Church proposes to the faithful: "You, that by the descent of the Consoling Spirit have made of your disciples saints and vessels of honor, make me a worthy dwelling for your coming. You who will come again to judge the universe in all justice, allow me also to come before you, my Judge and my Creator, with all your saints, to praise and sing to you eternally, with your eternal Father and with your most holy, good, and vivifying Spirit, now and always" (Communion Prayer).

    5. Together with us, "Creation waits with impatience the revelation of the children of God, and nourishes the hope of being herself also freed from the slavery of corruption, to enter into the liberty of the glory of the children of God" (Rmm 8:19-21). The Revelation of John announces "a new heaven and a new earth," because the first heaven and earth will disappear (Cf Ap 21,1). And, in his Second Letter, Peter reviews the traditional apocalyptic pictures to reiterate the same concept: "the Heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But, according to his promise, we wait for the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pt 3:12-13).

        In the expectation of harmony and full praise, from now on the whole of creation must intone with man a hymn of joy and hope. Let us also do this, with the words of a 3rd century hymn, discovered in Egypt: "All together the marvelous creations of God are not silent either in the morning or the evening. Nor are the luminous stars silent, nor the high mountains nor the depths of the seas, nor the source of the swift rivers, until we sing our hymns to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All the angels of heaven respond: Amen! Amen! Amen! (Text published by A. Gastone, in 'The Court of St. Gervais," September-October 1922). (ZENIT Translation) ZE00062820

June 30 - July 2, 2000
volume 11, no. 115

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