God’s message of history: to call all to conversion, says Pope Benedict


Continuing his series of Wednesday audiences prepared by the late John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI today told an estimated 17,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square that although seemingly in the hands of dark forces, God penetrates all of human history.

The Holy Father spoke on the "Hymn of adoration and praise", a canticle in chapter 15, verses 3 and 4, of the Book of Revelation.

"History”, he said, “is not in the hands of dark forces, of chance, or of merely human choices."

Rather, he said, "The Lord, supreme arbiter of historical events, rises above the discharge of evil energies, the vehement onslaught of Satan, the emergence of plagues and wickedness. He knowingly guides history to the dawn of the new heaven and the new earth, as mentioned in the last part of the book in the image of the new Jerusalem."

Pope Benedict pointed out that the hymn is sung by "the just of history, the vanquishers of the Satanic beast, those who through the seeming defeat of martyrdom are in reality the builders of the new world, with God the supreme architect."

He said that the intention of the canticle "is to reaffirm that God is not indifferent to human affairs, but penetrates them creating His 'ways,' in other words His projects and His efficacious 'works'."

The Pope said that, "This divine intervention has a precise aim: to be a sign inviting all the peoples of the earth to conversion. Nations must learn to 'read' in history a message from God.”

“The human adventure is not confused and meaningless,” he said, “nor is it hopelessly condemned to the prevarication of the domineering and the perverse."

Pope Benedict encouraged the faithful to recognize “divine action hidden in history," and to be open to "fearing the name of God.”

He noted though, that in biblical language, “this 'fear' is not the same as being afraid, rather its is a recognition of the mystery of divine transcendence. ... Thanks to fear of the Lord, one is not afraid of the evil raging through history and can vigorously resume the road of life."

"The hymn”, the Pope concluded, “closes by foreseeing a universal procession of peoples, who will present themselves before the Lord of history," Whom they will adore. "And the one Lord and Savior seems to repeat the words pronounced on the last evening of His earthly life: 'Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world'."

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