The Heart of John
Paul II- General Audiences on God the Father
A Pilgrimage to the
John Paul II
December 16, 1998
1. “I came from the
Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and
going to the Father” (Jn 16:28).
With these words of Jesus, today we begin a new cycle of catecheses
focused on the figure of the God the Father, thus following the thematic
guide offered by Tertio millennio adveniente in preparation for the
Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
In the first year’s cycle, we reflected on Jesus Christ the one Saviour.
Indeed, as a celebration of the Son of God’s entry into human history,
the Jubilee has a strong Christological tone. We meditated on the
meaning of time, which reached its focal point in the Redeemer’s birth
2,000 years ago. While this event inaugurates the Christian era, it also
opens a new phase of renewal for humanity and the universe, in
expectation of Christ’s last coming.
Then, in the catecheses of the second year of preparation for the
Jubilee, our attention was turned to the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent
from the Father. We reflected on him in the work of creation and in
history, as Person-Love and Person-Gift. We emphasized his power, which
draws out of chaos a cosmos rich in order and beauty. Divine life is
communicated in him, and with him history becomes the way to salvation.
We now want to spend the third year of preparation for the now imminent
Jubilee as a pilgrimage to the Father's house. Thus we set out on the
journey which, starting from the Father, leads creatures back to the
Father, in accordance with the loving plan fully revealed in Christ. The
journey to the Jubilee must become a great act of praise to the Father
(cf. Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 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 Revealer of the Father. His teaching,
his ministry, his very style of life, everything in him refers to the
Father (cf. Jn 5:19, 36; 8:28; 14:10; 17:6). The Father is the centre of
Jesus’ life, and Jesus in turn is the only way which gives us access to
him. “No one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6). Jesus is the
meeting-point of human beings with the Father, who is made visible in
him: “He who 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 the Father
in me?” (Jn 14:9-10).
The most expressive manifestation of Jesus' relationship with the Father
is his condition after the Resurrection, the summit of his mission and
the foundation of new and eternal life for those who believe in him. But
the union between the Son and the Father, like that between the Son and
believers, comes through the mystery of the “lifting up” of Jesus,
according to a characteristic expression of John’s Gospel. With the term
“lifting up”, the Evangelist indicates both the crucifixion and the
glorification of Christ; both are reflected on the believer: “So must
the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have
eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that
whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn
This “eternal life” is no less than the participation of believers in
the very life of the risen Jesus and consists in their insertion into
the movement of love uniting the Father and the Son, who are one (cf. Jn
3. The deep communion in which the Father, the Son and believers meet
includes the Holy Spirit, for he is the eternal bond that unites the
Father and the Son and involves human beings in this ineffable mystery
of love. Given to them as the “Consoler”, the Spirit “dwells” in the
disciples of Christ (cf. Jn 14:16-17), making the Trinity present.
According to the Evangelist John, Jesus says to his disciples, precisely
when he is promising to send the Paraclete: “In that day you will know
that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (Jn 14:20).
It is the Holy Spirit who introduces man into the mystery of the
Trinitarian life. “The Spirit of truth” (Jn 15:26; 16:13), he acts deep
within believers, making the Truth that is Christ shrine in their minds.
4. St Paul also stresses our orientation to the Father through the
Spirit of Christ who dwells in us. For the Apostle this is a true
sonship, which enables us to call God the Father by the same familiar
name that Jesus used: Abba (cf. Rom 8:15).
All creation is involved in this new dimension of our relationship with
God, and “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God”
(Rom 8:19). Creation has also “been groaning in travail together until
now” (Rom 8:22), in expectation of the total redemption that will
re-establish and perfect 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 role of Christ and the action
of the Spirit. It was through Christ, “the image of the invisible God”
(Col 1:15), that all things were created.
He is “the beginning, the first-born from the dead” (Col 1:18). In him
“all things are united, things in heaven and things on earth” (cf. Eph
1:10), and it is his task to deliver them to the Father (cf. 1 Cor
15:24), so that God may be “everything to everyone” (1 Cor 15:28). This
journey of humanity and the world to the Father is sustained by the
power of the Holy Spirit, who helps us in our weakness and “intercedes
for us with sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8:26).
Thus the New Testament introduces us very clearly into this movement
which flows from the Father and back to the Father. Let us consider it
with special attention in this final year of preparation for the Great
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have just begun the year of preparation for the Great Jubilee
dedicated to God the Father. In this year the whole Church is called to
set out on a great pilgrimage to the Father’s house, so that the Jubilee
will truly be a great hymn of praise to the Father who sent his Son into
the world as our Redeemer.
Jesus lived his earthly life in perfect union with the Father, and he is
the only way to the Father. Through the mystery of the Cross and
Resurrection, we are given access to the life of the Risen Christ and
are inserted into the movement of love joining the Father and the Son.
The eternal bond uniting the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. He
dwells in Christ’s disciples, making the Father and the Son present in
them and introducing them into the mystery of the Trinitarian life.
Saint Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit enables us to call God “Abba”
- “Father”, as Jesus did. The Spirit helps us in our weakness and
“intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Rm 8:26). He
strengthens us on our journey to the Father. May this final year of
preparation for the Jubilee enable all Christians to experience more
fully what it means to be the adopted sons and daughters of God.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
It is always a joy to welcome groups from Scandinavia and today I am
happy to welcome the students from Friaborgsskolan in Sweden. I extend a
special greeting to the group from India of Daughters of the
Presentation of Mary in the Temple. Upon all the English-speaking
pilgrims and visitors, especially from the United States of America, I
invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. To all of you, a
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