John Paul II Reflects on Christian Paradox of the Cross

Comments on Canticle in St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II used his general-audience address to focus on the central paradox of Christianity: God made man in Christ and crucified out of love.



The Pope dedicated his meeting with several thousand pilgrims, gathered today in Paul VI Hall, to comment on the canticle in St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians (2:6-11).

The canticle speaks of Christ, "who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave. … Because of this, God has greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name."

The "'emptying' of his divine glory," the Holy Father said, leads "to death on the cross, the punishment of slaves that made him the last of men, making him a real brother of suffering humanity, sinful and rejected."

However, with his death on the cross, "Christ is re-established by the Father in the splendor of the divinity," the Pope said. Thus, "the Son of God has crossed the infinite distance that lies between the Creator and the creature."

Lastly, referring to a commentary of St. Ambrose (circa 340-397), John Paul II illustrated the consequences of the Christian paradox: "God descended, and man was raised; the Word became flesh so that the flesh could claim for itself the throne of the Word at the right hand of God."

Today's catechesis was part of the series of meditations on the liturgy of vespers, which began last month (see ZENIT's "Wednesday's Audience" section).

Before bidding the pilgrims farewell, the Pope addressed young people in particular, and said: "Put Jesus at the center of your lives and you will receive from him light for every decision." To the sick, he said: "Trust Christ and you will understand the redeeming value of suffering lived with him."

Newlyweds also attended the audience, some of them dressed in their wedding clothes. John Paul II urged them to put "the Lord in the heart of your family to participate in the construction of his Kingdom of justice, love and peace."