.- On his Wednesday General Audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 20,000 people, Pope Benedict encouraged the faithful to “continually model our image on that of the Son of God." He based his reflection on the canticle contained in the first chapter of St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians, where Christ is presented as "the image of the invisible God."
St. Paul, the Pope explained, applies the Greek term "eikon" (icon or image) both to Christ, "Who is the perfect icon of God," and to man, who nonetheless has "'exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man.' ... We must, therefore, continually model our image on that of the Son of God."
St. Paul, the Pope went on, then "passes from the world of the creation to that of history. Christ is 'the head of the body, of the Church,' and He is so through His incarnation. In fact, He entered the human community to support it and form it into a 'body,' in other words into a harmonious and fruitful unity. The consistency and growth of humanity have their root in Christ, the vital pivot, the 'beginning'."
The canticle closes by celebrating the "'fullness' ... that Christ possesses as a gift of love from God. This is the fullness of the divinity which irradiates both in the universe and in humanity, becoming a source of peace, of unity, and of perfect harmony. This 'reconciliation,' and 'pacification' is achieved through 'the blood of His cross,' by which we are justified and sanctified."
The Holy Father concluded: "In spilling His blood and giving Himself, Christ spread peace which, in biblical language, is a blend of messianic goodness and salvific plenitude extended to all creation. The canticle closes, then, with a luminous horizon of reconciliation, unity, harmony and peace, over which the figure of its Architect, Christ, solemnly rises."
After the audience, Benedict XVI greeted pilgrims in various languages and soon afterwards returned by helicopter to his summer residence in the apostolic palace of Castelgandolfo.