Christ Is Interpreter of History, Says Pope

Reflects on Hymn From the Book of Revelation

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 31, 2004 (Zenit.org).- For a believer, Christ is the "great interpreter" of history, says John Paul II.



The Pope made that point today during the last general audience of Lent, which he dedicated to comment on the Book of Revelation's "Hymn of the Redeemed."

Addressing 14,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father reflected on the scene depicted in Chapters 4 and 5 of the last book of the Bible, where the "Lamb," slain and risen, appears next to God.

"Christ is the great interpreter and Lord of history, who reveals the hidden thread of divine action that runs through it," the Pope said when explaining the meaning of the canticle.

The hymn mentions a mysterious "scroll … which is totally inaccessible," as "seven seals impede its reading," he said. "Therefore, it is about a hidden prophecy."

"That scroll contains the whole series of divine decrees that must be carried out in human history to make perfect justice reign," the Holy Father continued. "If the scroll remains sealed, these decrees can neither be known nor acted upon, and wickedness will continue to propagate itself and to oppress believers."

The "slain and risen Lamb" will "be able 'to receive the scroll and to break open its seals,'" the Pope explained, following the account in the Book of Revelation, also known as Apocalypse.

The same passage, John Paul II said, "indicates the basis of the power of Christ over history: his paschal mystery," his passion, death and resurrection.

"Christ was 'slain' and with his blood he 'delivered' the whole of humanity from the power of evil," he said. "The verb 'to deliver' refers to Exodus, to the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery. For ancient legislation, the duty of deliverance devolved on the closest relative. In the case of the people, it was God himself who called Israel his 'firstborn son.'"

"Christ, therefore, carries out this work for the whole of humanity," the Pope continued. "His redemption does not just have the function of delivering us from the evil committed in the past, of healing our wounds, and of relieving our miseries."

"Christ gives us a new interior being, he makes us priests and kings, participants in his own dignity," he said. "From it follows an appeal to the Church, to be aware of its dignity and mission."

"He drew us from slavery to freedom, from darkness to light, from death to life, from oppression to eternal royalty; and made of us a new priesthood and a people chosen forever," the Holy Father said, quoting the Easter homily of a second-century bishop, Meliton of Sardis, a city in Asia Minor.

"He is the silent lamb, the slaughtered lamb, the son of Mary, lamb without stain. He was taken from the flock, led to death, slain toward evening, buried at night," the Pope said.

The catechesis continued John Paul II's series of meditations on the liturgy of vespers. Previous catecheses may be consulted in the Wednesday's Audience section of ZENIT's Web page.