Christ Unveils Meaning of History, Says Pope
Reflects on Apostle John, the "Seer of Patmos"
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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Apostle John's objective in writing the Book of Revelation is to unveil, "from the death and resurrection of Christ, the meaning of human history," says Benedict XVI.
The Pope delivered that message today at the general audience, which he dedicated once again to the Apostle John, whom he presented on this occasion as "the seer of Patmos." The meditation is part of the series of reflections the Holy Father is offering on the Church and the apostles.
"We can also call him 'the seer of Patmos,'" the Pope said, "because his figure is linked to the name of this island of the Aegean Sea, where, according to his own autobiographical testimony, he found himself deported 'because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.'
"Precisely on Patmos, 'in the Spirit on the Lord's day,' John had grandiose visions and heard extraordinary messages, which would have no little influence on the history of the Church and on the whole of Christian culture."
Benedict XVI focused on the Book of Revelation. "The first and essential vision of John, in fact, concerns the figure of the Lamb, which, despite being slain, is standing, placed before the throne where God himself is seated.
"With this, John wants to tell us two things above all: The first is that Jesus, though he was killed with an act of violence, instead of lying fallen on the ground remains paradoxically standing firmly on his feet, because with the resurrection he has vanquished death definitively.
"The second is that Jesus himself, precisely because he died and resurrected, now participates fully in the royal and salvific power of the Father."
"This is the fundamental vision," the Holy Father continued. "Jesus, the Son of God, is, on this earth, a defenseless, wounded and dead Lamb. And yet, he is standing, firm, before the throne of God and participates in the divine power.
"He has in his hands the history of the world. In this way, the visionary wishes to tell us: Have confidence in Jesus, do not be afraid of opposing powers, of persecution! The wounded and dead Lamb conquers! Follow Jesus, the Lamb, trust Jesus, follow his way! Even if in this world he seems to be the weak Lamb, he is the victor!"
Benedict XVI said: "The object of one of the principal visions of Revelation is this Lamb at the moment he opens a book, which before was sealed with seven seals, which no one was able to open. John is even presented weeping, as no one could be found able to open the book and read it. History appears as undecipherable, incomprehensible. No one can read it.
"Perhaps this weeping of John before the very dark mystery of history expresses the disconcertment of the Asian Churches because of God's silence in the face of the persecutions to which they were exposed at that time. It is a disconcertment which might well reflect our surprise in the face of the grave difficulties, misunderstandings and hostilities that the Church also suffers today in several parts of the world."
"At the center of the vision that Revelation presents," the Pope said, "is the extremely significant image of the Woman, who gives birth to a male Child, and the complementary vision of the Dragon, which has fallen from the heavens, but is still very powerful.
"This Woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but she represents at the same time the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church that at all times, with great pain, again gives birth to Christ. And she is always threatened by the power of the Dragon. She seems defenseless, weak."
"But, while she is threatened, pursued by the Dragon, she is also protected by God's consolation," Benedict XVI said. "And this Woman, at the end, is victorious. The Dragon does not conquer. This is the great prophecy of this book, which gives us confidence!
"The Woman who suffers in history, the Church which is persecuted, at the end is presented as the splendid Bride, image of the new Jerusalem, in which there is no more tears or weeping, image of the world transformed, of the new world whose light is God himself, whose lamp is the Lamb."