In today’s general audience, Pope Benedict XVI explained to a large number of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square that the through Christ, “the work of God the Father is revealed and accomplished.
Having spent many of his recent audiences teaching about the Psalms, the Holy Father today, shifted his attention to the opening canticle of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, “God the Savior”, calling it a “constant stream of praise rising up to God.”
Benedict said that the canticle belongs to the category of "blessings that appear in the Old Testament and that were further spread by the Jewish tradition."
Noting that in the Christian faith, God is “celebrated as 'Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’, the Pope said that “in our hymn of praise, the central figure is that of Christ, in Whom the work of…the Father is revealed and accomplished."
He went on to point out some of the specific verbs used in St. Paul's hymn, the first of which is "to choose."
God, said the Pope, "'chose us in Him,' this is our vocation to sanctity, to the status of adoptive children, and hence to fraternity with Christ. ... The second verb ... designates the gift of grace. ... The grace the Father gives us in the only begotten Son is, then, the epiphany of His love which envelops and transforms us.”
The Holy Father then moved to what he called, "the third fundamental verb of the Pauline hymn.” “It too”, he said, “has as its object in divine grace which is 'lavished upon us.' What we have, then, is a verb of fullness, we could say (keeping to its original sense) of excess, of giving without limit or reserve."
"And so”, he continued, “we reach the infinite and glorious depths of the mystery of God, opened and revealed by grace to those who were called through grace and love.”
He explained that “the mystery of divine will has a center that is destined to coordinate all existence and all history, leading them to the fullness desired by God. This is the 'plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things' in Christ."
Comparing the history of creation and salvation to a great fresco, the Pope called to mind the words of St. Irenaeus who, he said, “recognized that since the Word of God truly becomes man, sin and death are defeated and all people are renewed in Christ."
At the conclusion of the audience, the Pope addressed special greetings to representatives of the Italian National Anti-Usury Consultancy, who are celebrating their tenth anniversary, as well as a group of Polish pilgrims, to whom he expressed praise for their recent recognition of the contemplative life.