Commentary on Canticle in Letter to the Colossians
Christ, "Image of the Invisible God," Says John Paul II
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2004 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of John Paul II's address at Wednesday's general audience, which he dedicated to reflect on a canticle in St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians (1:3,12-20).
* * *
1. The great Christological hymn, which opens the Letter to the Colossians, has just resonated. Prominent in it is the glorious figure of Christ, heart of the liturgy and center of the whole of ecclesial life. However, the hymn's horizon immediately extends to creation and redemption, encompassing every created being and the whole of history.
In this song is found the living faith and prayer of the ancient Christian community, whose voice and witness the Apostle takes up, imprinting at the same time its stamp on the hymn.
2. After an introduction in which gratitude is expressed to the Father for the redemption (see verses 12-14), this canticle, which the liturgy of vespers proposes every week, is articulated in two 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 (see verses 15-18a). He is the "image," the visible "icon" of that God who remains invisible in his mystery. This was Moses' experience who, in his ardent desire to see the personal reality of God, heard this reply: "You cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live" (Exodus 33:20; see also John 14:8-9).
Instead, the face of the Father Creator of the universe becomes accessible in Christ, author of created reality: "all things were created through him ... in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16,17). 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.
3. The praise in honor of Christ proceeds, in the second strophe (see verses 18b-20), toward another horizon: that of salvation, of redemption, of the regeneration of humanity created by him but which, by sinning, was plunged into death.
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 a new life to us (see verses 19-20).
4. Therefore, he is celebrated as "the firstborn from the dead" (1:18b). With his divine "fullness," but also with his blood shed on the cross, Christ "reconciles" and "pacifies" all realities, heavenly and earthly. Thus he returns them to their original situation, recreating the primitive harmony, willed by God according to his plan of love and life. Creation and redemption are, therefore, linked between themselves as stages of the same history of salvation.
5. As usual, we now make room for the meditation of the great teachers of the faith, the Fathers of the Church. One of them 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' (Ephesians 1:7). In fact, the blood of the Lord was given as ransom, leading prisoners of death to life. Those who were subjected to the reign of death could only be liberated by Him who made himself participant with us of death. ... With his coming we have known the nature of God that existed before his coming. It is, in fact, the work of God to have extinguished death, restored life, and lead the world back to God. That is why he says: 'He is the image of the invisible God' (Colossians 1:15), to manifest that he is God, though not the Father, but the image of the Father, and has his same identity, though he is not Him" ("I Libri della Bibbia Interpretati dalla Grande Tradizione" [The Books of the Bible Interpreted by the Great Tradition], Bologna, 2000, pp. 18,23).
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, because 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'" (ibid., p. 37).
[At the end of the audience, a papal aide read the following summary in English:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the great Christological hymn from the Letter to the Colossians, we extol the glorious figure of Christ, heart of the liturgy and center of the entire life of the Church. In this canticle we recognize the living faith and prayer of the ancient Christian community regarding the Lord Jesus, celebrated as the "firstborn" of all creation and of those who are raised from the dead (see Colossians 1:15,18).
With his divine "fullness," but also through shedding his blood on the cross, Christ "reconciles" and "restores" all things in heaven and on earth. He thereby brings them back to their original condition, willed by God in accordance with his loving plan of life.
[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]
I extend a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims present here today, including groups from England, Denmark, Australia, and the United States of America. Upon all of you I invoke the peace and joy of our Lord Jesus Christ and I pray that your stay in Rome will bring you abundant blessings.
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Pope John Paul II - Bishop of Rome, 661 869-1000
Colossians, God, Bible, St. Paul, Christ, Pope
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Trump dumps Obama's transgender restroom policy HD Video
- Atheist teacher accuses Christian students of harassment for inviting ...
- Daily Readings for Friday, February 24, 2017
- Why are there more Muslims than Christians in Britain's religious ...
- Urgent action necessary for 5.5 million people starving in South ...
- St. John Theristus: Saint of the Day for Friday, February 24, 2017
- London's famed 'actors' church' reveals marvelously beautiful new ...
- Daily Reading for Saturday, February 25th, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Friday, February 24th, 2017 HD
- Scientists predict Biblical flood for California HD
- New pilgrimage route recreates Jesus' footsteps HD
Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.