Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Word was abbreviated

From this glimpse that all reality as the handiwork of the Blessed Trinity through the Divine Word, we can understand the statement made by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews: "in many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world" (1:1-2). It is very beautiful to see how the entire Old Testament already appears to us as a history in which God communicates his word: indeed, "By his covenant with Abraham (cf. Genesis 15:18) and, through Moses, with the race of Israel (cf. Exodus 24:8), he gained a people for himself in words and deeds as the one, living and true God. It was his plan that Israel might learn by experience God's ways with humanity and, by listening to the voice of God speaking to them through the prophets, might gradually understand his ways more fully and more clearly, and make them more widely known among the nations (cf. Psalm 21:28-29; 95:1-3; Isaih 2:1-4; Jeremiah 3:17)."

This condescension of God is accomplished surpassingly in the incarnation of the Word. The eternal Word, expressed in creation and communicated in salvation history, in Christ became a man, "born of a woman" (Galatians 4:4). Here the word finds expression no primarily in discourse, concepts or rules. Here we are set before the very person of Jesus. His unique and singular history is the definitive word which God speaks to humanity. We can see, then, why ‘being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a definitive direction…We are speaking of an unprecedented and humanly inconceivable novelty: ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (John 1:14a). These words are no figure of speech; they point to a lived experience! St. John, an eyewitness, tells us so: "We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14b). The apostolic faith testifies that the eternal Word became one of us. The Divine Word is truly expressed in human words.

The patristic and medieval tradition, in contemplating this "Christology of the word" employed an evocative expression: the Word was "abbreviated" (Origen, Peri Archon 1,2,8: SC 252, 127-129). The Fathers of the Church found in their Greek translation of the Old Testament a passage from the prophet Isaiah that St. Paul also quotes in order to show how God’s new ways have already been foretold in the Old Testament. There we read: "The Lord has made his word short, he abbreviated it" (Isaiah 10:23; Romans 9:28)…The Son himself is the Word, the Logos: the eternal Word became small – small enough to fit into a manger. He became a child, so that the word could be grasped by us. Now the word is not simply audible; not only does it have a voice, now the Word has a face, one which we can see: that of Jesus of Nazareth.

(Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 30 September 2010, 11-12.)

No comments:

Post a Comment