Pope Benedict XVI- Audiences
“Jesus Christ is Lord”
H.H. Benedict XVI
October 26, 2005
Brothers and Sisters:
1. Once again,
following the itinerary proposed by the Liturgy of Vespers with
various Psalms and Canticles, we have heard resound the wonderful
and fundamental hymn St Paul inserted into the Letter to the
Philippians (2: 6-11).
Already in the
past we have underlined that this text contains a two-way movement:
descent and ascent. In the first, Christ Jesus, from the splendour
of divinity which by nature belongs to him, chooses to descend to
the humiliation of "death on a cross". In this way he shows himself
to be truly man and our Redeemer, with an authentic and full
participation in our human reality of suffering and death.
2. The second
movement, upwards, reveals the paschal glory of Christ, who
manifests himself once more after death in the splendour of his
The Father, who
welcomed his Son's act of obedience in the Incarnation and passion,
now "exalts" him in a supreme way, as the Greek text tells us. This
exaltation is expressed not only through the enthronement at God's
right hand, but also with the conferral upon Christ of a "name
which is above every name" (v. 9).
Now, in biblical
language, "name" indicates a person's true essence and specific
function, manifesting his or her intimate and profound reality. To
the Son, who, for love, was humiliated in death, the Father confers
an incomparable dignity, the "Name" above all others, that of
"Lord", of God himself.
3. Indeed, the
proclamation of faith, chorally intoned from Heaven, earth and the
netherworld lying prostrate in adoration, is clear and explicit:
"Jesus Christ is Lord" (v. 11). In Greek, it is affirmed that Jesus
is Kyrios, undoubtedly a royal title, which in the Greek
translation of the Bible renders the name of God revealed to Moses
sacred and unutterable. With the name Kyrios, Jesus Christ is
recognized as true God.
On the one hand,
then, there is the recognition of the universal sovereignty of Jesus
Christ, who receives honour from all of creation, seen as a subject
lying prostrate at his feet. On the other, however, the acclamation
of faith declares Christ existing in the divine form or condition,
thereby presenting him as worthy of adoration.
4. In this hymn
the reference made to the scandal of the cross (cf. I Cor 1: 23),
and even earlier to the true humanity of the Word made flesh (cf. Jn
1: 14), is interwoven with and culminates in the event of the
Resurrection. The sacrificial obedience of the Son is followed by
the glorifying response of the Father, to which adoration is united
on the part of humanity and creation. Christ's singularity emerges
from his function as Lord of the redeemed world, which has been
conferred upon him because of his perfect obedience "unto death". In
the Son, the project of salvation reaches fulfillment and the
faithful are invited, especially in the liturgy, to announce and to
live the fruits [of salvation].
This is the
destination where the Christological hymn leads us, upon which for
centuries the Church meditates, sings and considers as a guide of
life: "Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus"
(Phil 2: 5).
5. Let us now turn to the meditation on our
hymn that has been interwoven with great wisdom by St Gregory of
Nazianzus. In a poem in honour of Christ, the great fourth-century
Doctor of the Church declares that Jesus Christ "does not empty
himself of any part that makes up his divine nature, and
not-withstanding this he saves me like a healer who bends over
festering wounds.... He was of the line of David, but was the
Creator of Adam; he was made of flesh, but was also a stranger to
it; he was generated by a mother, but by a virgin mother; he was
limited, but also immense; he was born in a stable, but a star led
the Magi to him, who brought him gifts and bowed down and knelt
before him. As a mortal man he battled with the devil, but,
invincible as he was, he overcame the tempter with a three-fold
strategy.... He was victim, but also High Priest; he was sacrificed,
but was God; he offered his blood to God and in this way he purified
the entire world. A cross raised
him up from the earth, but sin remained nailed to it.... He
descended to the dead, but came back from the netherworld redeeming
many who were dead. The first event is typical of human misery, but
the second is part of the richness of the incorporeal being..., that
earthly form the immortal Son takes upon himself because he loves
us" (Carmina arcana, 2: Collana di Testi Patristici,
LVIII, Rome, 1986, pp. 236-238).
At the end of this meditation I want to underline two phrases for
our lives. In the first place, this admonition of St Paul: "Have
this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus". To learn to
feel as Jesus felt; to conform our way of thinking, deciding and
acting to the sentiments of Jesus. We will take up this path if we
look to conform our sentiments to those of Jesus. Let us take up the
The other phrase is that of St Gregory of Nazianzus. "He, Jesus,
loves us". These tender words are a great consolation and comfort
for us; but also a great responsibility, day after day.
[To special groups:]
I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors and
pilgrims present at today's audience. I extend particular greetings
to the groups from England, Wales, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden,
Japan, Canada and the United States of America. I wish you all a
pleasant stay in Rome!
I then greet the young people, sick people and newly-weds.
I address a special thought to you, dear sick people, who
are very numerous at this gathering, and especially to the large
group of children from the "City of Hope" of Padua. Dear friends, as
we heard in the catechesis, the Cross of Christ makes us understand
the true meaning of suffering and pain. Spiritually unite yourselves
to Jesus Crucified and trustfully abandon yourselves into the hands
of Mary, calling upon her unceasingly with the Rosary.
The month of October, dedicated to the Holy Rosary, is drawing to a
close. I invite you to recite with devotion this prayer that is so
dear to the tradition of the Christian people. We pray for the many
needs of the Church and the world, in a special way for the
populations stricken by the earthquake and by physical and natural
disasters. May our spiritual and material support never be lacking
for those who are in difficulty.
2005 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
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