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Seeking God's face

· The General Audience of Benedict XVI on the topic of the Revelation ·

On the eve of the beginning of the ecumenical Week the invitation to pray for unity

The desire “to see God's face” is innate in every human being, even in non-believers. The Pope said this at the General Audience this morning, Wednesday, 16 January, in the Paul VI Hall..

Continuing his weekly Reflections on the Year of Faith, Benedict XVI talked about the Revelation of God which “reached its culmination, its fullness” in Jesus. Indeed, the Incarnation expressed “the newness of the New Testament, that newness which appeared in the Bethlehem Grotto: God can be seen, God has shown his face, he is visible in Jesus Christ”.

Whereas in the Old Testament the emphasis is placed above all on the need not to reduce God to “an object”, or a mere “image that one holds in one's hand” – to the extent that his face remained hidden even to Moses – with the Incarnation “the search for God's face reached an unimaginable turning point, because this face could then be seen: it was the face of Jesus, of the Son of God who became man”. Therefore Christ, the Pope explained, “showed us God's face and made us acquainted with God's name”, pointing him out as “the One who is present among men”. Thus he “inaugurated God's presence in history in a new way, for whoever sees him sees the Father”: a reality that the Patristic and Medieval tradition sums up effectively by defining Jesus as Verbum abbreviatum, “the abbreviated Word, the short Word, the short and essential word of the Father who has told us everything about him”.

The wish to see God's face is therefore fulfilled in “following Christ” and in learning to recognize him “in the poor, in the weak and in the suffering”. This is possible”, the Pope concluded, “only if the true face of Jesus has become familiar to us in listening to his word”.

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