JOHN PAUL II
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. "How greatly to be desired are all his works, and how
sparkling they are to see!... He has made nothing incomplete.... Who can have
enough of beholding his glory? Though we speak much we cannot reach the end, and
the sum of our words is: "He is the all'. Where shall we find strength to
praise him? He is greater than all his works..." (Sir 42: 22, 24-25;
43: 27-28). With these words full of wonder, Sirach, a biblical sage,
contemplated the splendour of creation and sang God's praises. It is a tiny
piece of the thread of contemplation and meditation which runs throughout Sacred
Scripture, from the first lines of Genesis when creatures, summoned by the
powerful Word of the Creator, spring from the silence of nothingness.
2. We can see in the light of Revelation how the creative act is appropriated in the first place to the "Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (Jas 1: 17). He shines resplendently over the whole horizon, as the Psalmist sings: "O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth! You have exalted your majesty above the heavens" (Ps 8: 2). God "has made the world firm, not to be moved" (Ps 96: 10), and as he faces nothingness, symbolized by the chaotic waters which lift up their voice, the Creator arises, giving firmness and safety: "The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice, the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty" (Ps 93: 3-4).
3. In Sacred Scripture creation is also often linked to the divine Word which breaks in and acts: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth.... He spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood forth.... He sends forth his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly" (Ps 33: 6, 9; 147: 15). In the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament it is divine Wisdom personified that brings forth the universe, carrying out the plan God has in mind (cf. Prv 8: 22-31). It has been said that in God's Word and Wisdom John and Paul saw the foretelling of the action of Christ "from whom are all things and for whom we exist" (1 Cor 8: 6), because it is "through [Christ] also [that God] created the world" (Heb 1: 2).
4. At other times Scripture stresses the role of God's Spirit in
the act of creation: "When you send forth your Spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the earth" (Ps 104: 30). The same Spirit is
symbolically described as the breath of God's mouth. He gives life and
consciousness to man (cf.
Gn 2: 7), and brings him back to life in the resurrection, as the
prophet Ezekiel announces in an evocative passage where the Spirit is at work
breathing life into dry bones (cf. 37: 1-14). This same breath subdues the
waters of the sea at Israel's exodus from Egypt (cf.
Ex 15: 8, 10). Again the Spirit regenerates the human creature, as Jesus
will say in his night-time conversation with Nicodemus: "Truly, truly, I
say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the
kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit" (Jn 3: 5-6).
Nature thus becomes a gospel which speaks to us of God: "from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator" (Wis 13: 5). Paul teaches us that "ever since the creation of the world his [God's] invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made" (Rom 1: 20). But this capacity for contemplation and knowledge, this discovery of a transcendent presence in created things must lead us also to rediscover our kinship with the earth, to which we have been linked since our own creation (cf. Gn 2: 7). This is precisely the goal which the Old Testament wished for the Hebrew Jubilee, when the land was at rest and man ate what the fields spontaneously gave him (cf. Lv 25: 11-12). If nature is not violated and degraded, it once again becomes man's sister.
* * *
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, the Holy Father said:
I extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, in particular to the group from Saint Denis Parish in Hanover, New Hampshire, and to the Chapman University Choir from Orange, California. I wish to assure the pilgrims from Seton Hall University that I have prayed for the dead and the injured in last week’s tragic fire at the University. Upon you all I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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