Verbum Domini EN













The word of the lord abides for ever. This word is the Gospel which was preached to you” (
1P 1,25 cf. Is 40,8). With this assertion from the First Letter of Saint Peter, which takes up the words of the Prophet Isaiah, we find ourselves before the mystery of God, who has made himself known through the gift of his word. This word, which abides for ever, entered into time. God spoke his eternal Word humanly; his Word “became flesh” (Jn 1,14). This is the good news. This is the proclamation which has come down the centuries to us today. The Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, meeting in the Vatican from 5-26 October 2008, had as its theme: The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. It was a profound experience of encounter with Christ, the Word of the Father, who is present where two or three are gathered in his name (cf. Mt 18,20). With this Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation I readily respond to the request of the Synod Fathers to make known to the whole People of God the rich fruits which emerged from the synodal sessions and the recommendations which resulted from our common endeavour.[1] Consequently, I intend to revisit the work of the Synod in the light of its documents: the Lineamenta, the Instrumentum Laboris, the Relationes ante and post disceptationem, the texts of the interventions, both those delivered on the Synod floor and those presented in written form, the reports of the smaller discussion groups, the Final Message to the People of God and, above all, a number of specific proposals (Propositiones) which the Fathers considered especially significant. In this way I wish to point out certain fundamental approaches to a rediscovery of God’s word in the life of the Church as a wellspring of constant renewal. At the same time I express my hope that the word will be ever more fully at the heart of every ecclesial activity.

[1] Cf. Propositio 1.

That our joy may be complete

2 Before all else, I would like to call to mind the beauty and pleasure of the renewed encounter with the Lord Jesus which we experienced during the synodal assembly. In union with with the Synod Fathers, then, I address all the faithful in the words of Saint John in his first letter: “We proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and which was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1Jn 1,2-3). The Apostle speaks to us of hearing, seeing, touching and looking upon (cf. 1Jn 1,1) the word of life, since life itself was made manifest in Christ. Called to communion with God and among ourselves, we must proclaim this gift. From this kerygmatic standpoint, the synodal assembly was a testimony, before the Church and before the world, to the immense beauty of encountering the word of God in the communion of the Church. For this reason I encourage all the faithful to renew their personal and communal encounter with Christ, the word of life made visible, and to become his heralds, so that the gift of divine life – communion – can spread ever more fully throughout the world. Indeed, sharing in the life of God, a Trinity of love, is complete joy (cf. 1Jn 1,4). And it is the Church’s gift and unescapable duty to communicate that joy, born of an encounter with the person of Christ, the Word of God in our midst. In a world which often feels that God is superfluous or extraneous, we confess with Peter that he alone has “the words of eternal life” (Jn 6,68). There is no greater priority than this: to enable the people of our time once more to encounter God, the God who speaks to us and shares his love so that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10,10).

From “Dei Verbum” to the Synod on the Word of God

3 With the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God, we were conscious of dealing in a certain sense with the very heart of the Christian life, in continuity with the previous synodal assembly on The Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission. Indeed, the Church is built upon the word of God; she is born from and lives by that word.[2] Throughout its history, the People of God has always found strength in the word of God, and today too the ecclesial community grows by hearing, celebrating and studying that word. It must be acknowledged that in recent decades ecclesial life has grown more sensitive to this theme, particularly with reference to Christian revelation, the living Tradition and sacred Scripture. Beginning with the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII, we can say that there has been a crescendo of interventions aimed at an increased awareness of the importance of the word of God and the study of the Bible in the life of the Church,[3] culminating in the Second Vatican Council and specifically in the promulgation of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum. The latter represented a milestone in the Church’s history: “The Synod Fathers … acknowledge with gratitude the great benefits which this document brought to the life of the Church, on the exegetical, theological, spiritual, pastoral and ecumenical plane”.[4] The intervening years have also witnessed a growing awareness of the “trinitarian and salvation-historical horizon of revelation”[5] against which Jesus Christ is to be acknowledged as “mediator and fullness of all revelation”.[6] To each generation the Church unceasingly proclaims that Christ “completed and perfected revelation. Everything to do with his presence and his self-manifestation was involved in achieving this: his words and works, signs and miracles, but above all his death and resurrection from the dead, and finally his sending of the Spirit of truth”.[7]

Everyone is aware of the great impulse which the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum gave to the revival of interest in the word of God in the life of the Church, to theological reflection on divine revelation and to the study of sacred Scripture. In the last forty years, the Church’s magisterium has also issued numerous statements on these questions.[8] By celebrating this Synod, the Church, conscious of her continuing journey under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, felt called to further reflection on the theme of God’s word, in order to review the implementation of the Council’s directives, and to confront the new challenges which the present time sets before Christian believers.

[2] Cf. Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Instrumentum Laboris, 27.
[3] Cf. Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Providentissimus Deus (18 November 1893): ASS 26 (1893-94), 269-292; Benedict XV, Encyclical Letter Spiritus Paraclitus (15 September 1920): AAS 12 (1920), 385-422; PIUS XII, Encyclical Letter Divino Afflante Spiritu (30 September 1943): AAS 35 (1943), 297-325.
[4] Propositio 2.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum,
DV 2.
[7] Ibid., DV 4
[8] Noteworthy among various kinds of interventions are: Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Summi Dei Verbum (4 November 1963): AAS 55 (1963), 979-995; Motu Proprio Sedula Cura (27 June 1971): AAS 63 (1971), 665-669; John Paul II, General Audience (1 May 1985): L’Osservatore Romano, 2-3 May 1985, p. 6; Address on the Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (23 April 1993): AAS 86 (1994), 232-243; Benedict XVI, Address to the International Congress held on the Fortieth Anniversary of “Dei Verbum” (16 September 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 957; Angelus(6 November 2005): Insegnamenti I (2005), 759-760. Also worthy of mention are the interventions of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, De Sacra Scriptura et Christologia (1984): Enchiridion Vaticanum 9, Nos. 1208-1339; Unity and Diversity in the Church (11 April 1988): Enchiridion Vaticanum 11, Nos. 544-643; The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (15 April 1993):Enchiridion Vaticanum 13, Nos. 2846-3150; The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible (24 May 2001): Enchiridion Vaticanum 20, Nos. 733-1150; The Bible and Morality. Biblical Roots of Christian Conduct (11 May 2008): Vatican City, 2008.

The Synod of Bishops on the Word of God

4 In the twelfth synodal assembly, Bishops from throughout the world gathered around the word of God and symbolically placed the text of the Bible at the centre of the assembly, in order to stress anew something we risk taking for granted in everyday life: the fact that God speaks and responds to our questions.[9] Together we listened to and celebrated the word of the Lord. We recounted to one another all that the Lord is doing in the midst of the People of God, and we shared our hopes and concerns. All this made us realize that we can deepen our relationship with the word of God only within the “we” of the Church, in mutual listening and acceptance. Hence our gratitude for the testimonies about the life of the Church in different parts of the world which emerged from the various interventions on the floor. It was also moving to hear the fraternal delegates, who accepted our invitation to take part in the synodal meeting. I think in particular of the meditation offered to us by His Holiness Bartholomaios I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, for which the Fathers expressed deep appreciation.[10] Furthermore, for the first time ever, the Synod of Bishops also invited a rabbi to offer us a precious witness on the Hebrew Scriptures, which are also part of our own sacred Scriptures.[11]

In this way we were able to acknowledge with joy and gratitude that “in the Church there is also a Pentecost today – in other words, the Church speaks in many tongues, and not only outwardly, in the sense that all the great languages of the world are represented in her, but, more profoundly, inasmuch as present within her are various ways of experiencing God and the world, a wealth of cultures, and only in this way do we come to see the vastness of the human experience and, as a result, the vastness of the word of God”.[12] We were also able to see an ongoing Pentecost; various peoples are still waiting for the word of God to be proclaimed in their own language and in their own culture.

How can I fail to mention that throughout the Synod we were accompanied by the testimony of the Apostle Paul! It was providential that the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly took place during the year dedicated to the great Apostle of the Nations on the two thousandth anniversary of his birth. Paul’s life was completely marked by his zeal for the spread of God’s word. How can we not be moved by his stirring words about his mission as a preacher of the word of God: “I do everything for the Gospel” (
1Co 9,23); or, as he writes in the Letter to the Romans: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith” (Rm 1,16). Whenever we reflect on the word of God in the life and mission of the Church, we cannot but think of Saint Paul and his life spent in spreading the message of salvation in Christ to all peoples.

[9] Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2008): AAS 101 (2009), 49.
[10] Cf. Propositio 37.
[11] Cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible (24 May 2001): Enchiridion Vaticanum 20, Nos. 733-1150.
[12] Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2008): AAS 101 (2009), 50.

The Prologue of John’s Gospel as a guide

5 With this Apostolic Exhortation I would like the work of the Synod to have a real effect on the life of the Church: on our personal relationship with the sacred Scriptures, on their interpretation in the liturgy and catechesis, and in scientific research, so that the Bible may not be simply a word from the past, but a living and timely word. To accomplish this, I would like to present and develop the labours of the Synod by making constant reference to the Prologue of John’s Gospel (Jn 1,1-18), which makes known to us the basis of our life: the Word, who from the beginning is with God, who became flesh and who made his dwelling among us (cf. Jn 1,14). This is a magnificent text, one which offers a synthesis of the entire Christian faith. From his personal experience of having met and followed Christ, John, whom tradition identifies as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (Jn 13,23 Jn 20,2 Jn 21,7), “came to a deep certainty: Jesus is the Wisdom of God incarnate, he is his eternal Word who became a mortal man”.[13] May John, who “saw and believed” (cf. Jn Jn 20,8) also help us to lean on the breast of Christ (cf. Jn 13,25), the source of the blood and water (cf. Jn 19,34) which are symbols of the Church’s sacraments. Following the example of the Apostle John and the other inspired authors, may we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit to an ever greater love of the word of God.

[13] Cf. Benedict XVI, Angelus (4 January 2009): Insegnamenti V, 1 (2009), 13.



“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God… and the Word became flesh”

(Jn 1,1)

The God Who Speaks

God in dialogue

6 The novelty of biblical revelation consists in the fact that God becomes known through the dialogue which he desires to have with us.[14] The Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum had expressed this by acknowledging that the unseen God “from the fullness of his love, addresses men and women as his friends, and lives among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company”.[15] Yet we would not yet sufficiently grasp the message of the Prologue of Saint John if we stopped at the fact that God enters into loving communion with us. In reality, the Word of God, through whom “all things were made” (Jn 1,3) and who “became flesh” (Jn 1,14), is the same Word who is “in the beginning” (Jn 1,1). If we realize that this is an allusion to the beginning of the book of Genesis (cf. Gn 1,1), we find ourselves faced with a beginning which is absolute and which speaks to us of the inner life of God. The Johannine Prologue makes us realize that the Logos is truly eternal, and from eternity is himself God. God was never without his Logos. The Word exists before creation. Consequently at the heart of the divine life there is communion, there is absolute gift. “God is love” (1Jn 4,16), as the same Apostle tells us elsewhere, thus pointing to “the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny”.[16] God makes himself known to us as a mystery of infinite love in which the Father eternally utters his Word in the Holy Spirit. Consequently the Word, who from the beginning is with God and is God, reveals God himself in the dialogue of love between the divine persons, and invites us to share in that love. Created in the image and likeness of the God who is love, we can thus understand ourselves only in accepting the Word and in docility to the work of the Holy Spirit. In the light of the revelation made by God’s Word, the enigma of the human condition is definitively clarified.

[14] Cf. Relatio ante disceptationem, I.
[15] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, DV 2.
[16] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (25 December 2005), : AAS 98 (2006), 217-218.

The analogy of the word of God

7 In the light of these considerations, born of meditation on the Christian mystery expressed in the Prologue of John, we now need to consider what the Synod Fathers affirmed about the different ways in which we speak of “the word of God”. They rightly referred to a symphony of the word, to a single word expressed in multiple ways: “a polyphonic hymn”.[17] The Synod Fathers pointed out that human language operates analogically in speaking of the word of God. In effect, this expression, while referring to God’s self-communication, also takes on a number of different meanings which need to be carefully considered and related among themselves, from the standpoint both of theological reflection and pastoral practice. As the Prologue of John clearly shows us, the Logosrefers in the first place to the eternal Word, the only Son, begotten of the Father before all ages and consubstantial with him: the word was with God, and the word was God. But this same Word, Saint John tells us, “became flesh” (Jn 1,14); hence Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, is truly the Word of God who has become consubstantial with us. Thus the expression “word of God” here refers to the person of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the Father, made man.

While the Christ event is at the heart of divine revelation, we also need to realize that creation itself, the liber naturae, is an essential part of this symphony of many voices in which the one word is spoken. We also profess our faith that God has spoken his word in salvation history; he has made his voice heard; by the power of his Spirit “he has spoken through the prophets”.[18] God’s word is thus spoken throughout the history of salvation, and most fully in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son of God. Then too, the word of God is that word preached by the Apostles in obedience to the command of the Risen Jesus: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mc 16,15). The word of God is thus handed on in the Church’s living Tradition. Finally, the word of God, attested and divinely inspired, is sacred Scripture, the Old and New Testaments. All this helps us to see that, while in the Church we greatly venerate the sacred Scriptures, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book”: Christianity is the “religion of the word of God”, not of “a written and mute word, but of the incarnate and living Word”.[19] Consequently the Scripture is to be proclaimed, heard, read, received and experienced as the word of God, in the stream of the apostolic Tradition from which it is inseparable.[20]

As the Synod Fathers stated, the expression “word of God” is used analogically, and we should be aware of this. The faithful need to be better helped to grasp the different meanings of the expression, but also to understand its unitary sense. From the theological standpoint too, there is a need for further study of how the different meanings of this expression are interrelated, so that the unity of God’s plan and, within it, the centrality of the person of Christ, may shine forth more clearly.[21]

[17] Instrumentum Laboris, 9.
[18] Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: DS 150.
[19] Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Homilia super missus est, IV, 11: PL 183, 86B.
[20] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, DV 10.
[21] Cf. Propositio 3.

The cosmic dimension of the word

8 When we consider the basic meaning of the word of God as a reference to the eternal Word of God made flesh, the one Saviour and mediator between God and humanity,[22] and we listen to
this word, we are led by the biblical revelation to see that it is the foundation of all reality. The Prologue of Saint John says of the divine Logos, that “all things were made through him, and without
him was not anything made that was made” (
Jn 1,3); and in the Letter to the Colossians it is said of Christ, “the first-born of all creation” (Col 1,15), that “all things were created through him and for him” (Col 1,16). The author of the Letter to the Hebrews likewise states that “by faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (He 11,3).

For us, this proclamation is a word of freedom. Scripture tells us that everything that exists does not exist by chance but is willed by God and part of his plan, at whose center is the invitation to partake, in Christ, in the divine life. Creation is born of the Logos and indelibly bears the mark of the creative Reason which orders and directs it; with joy-filled certainty the psalms sing: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth” (Ps 33,6); and again, “he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood forth” (Ps 33,9). All reality expresses this mystery: “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Ps 19,1). Thus sacred Scripture itself invites us to acknowledge the Creator by contemplating his creation (cf. Sg 13,5 Rm 1,19-20). The tradition of Christian thought has developed this key element of the symphony of the word, as when, for example, Saint Bonaventure, who in the great tradition of the Greek Fathers sees all the possibilities of creation present in the Logos,[23] states that “every creature is a word of God, since it proclaims God”.[24] The Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum synthesized this datum when it stated that “God, who creates and conserves all things by his word (cf. Jn 1,3), provides constant evidence of himself in created realities”.[25]

[22] Cf. Congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Declaration on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and of the Church Dominus Iesus (6 August 2000), 13-15: AAS 92 (2000), 754-756.
[23] Cf. In Hexaemeron, XX, 5: Opera Omnia V, Quaracchi 1891, pp. 425-426; Breviloquium I, 8: Opera Omnia V, Quaracchi 1891, pp. 216-217.
[24] Itinerarium mentis in Deum, II, 12: Opera Omnia V, Quaracchi 1891, pp. 302-303; cf. Commentarius in librum Ecclesiastes, Cap. 1, vers. 11; Quaestiones, II, 3: Opera Omnia VI, Quaracchi 1891, p. 16.
[25] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, DV 3; cf. First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, Chap. 2, De Revelatione: DS 3004.

The creation of man

9 Reality, then is born of the word, as creatura Verbi, and everything is called to serve the word. Creation is the setting in which the entire history of the love between God and his creation develops; hence human salvation is the reason underlying everything. Contemplating the cosmos from the perspective of salvation history, we come to realize the unique and singular position occupied by man in creation: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them” (Gn 1,27). This enables us to acknowledge fully the precious gifts received from the Creator: the value of our body, the gift of reason, freedom and conscience. Here too we discover what the philosophical tradition calls “the natural law”.[26] In effect, “every human being who comes to consciousness and to responsibility has the experience of an inner call to do good”[27] and thus to avoid evil. As Saint Thomas Aquinas says, this principle is the basis of all the other precepts of the natural law.[28] Listening to the word of God leads us first and foremost to value the need to live in accordance with this law “written on human hearts” (cf. Rom Rm 2,15 Rm 7,23).[29] Jesus Christ then gives mankind the new law, the law of the Gospel, which takes up and eminently fulfils the natural law, setting us free from the law of sin, as a result of which, as Saint Paul says, “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it” (Rm 7,18). It likewise enables men and women, through grace, to share in the divine life and to overcome their selfishness.[30]

[26] Cf. Propositio 13.
[27] International Theological Commission, In Search of a Universal Ethics: A New Look at the Natural Law, Vatican City, 2009, No. 39.
[28] Cf. Summa Theologiae, I-II 94,2.
[29] Cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Bible and Morality, Biblical Roots of Christian Conduct (11 May 2008), Vatican City, 2008, Nos. 13, 32, 109.
[30] Cf. International Theological Commission, In Search of a Universal Ethics: A New Look at the Natural Law, Vatican City, 2009, No. 102.

The realism of the word

10 Those who know God’s word also know fully the significance of each creature. For if all things “hold together” in the one who is “before all things” (cf. Col 1,17), then those who build their lives on his word build in a truly sound and lasting way. The word of God makes us change our concept of realism: the realist is the one who recognizes in the word of God the foundation of all things.[31] This realism is particularly needed in our own time, when many things in which we trust for building our lives, things in which we are tempted to put our hopes, prove ephemeral. Possessions, pleasure and power show themselves sooner or later to be incapable of fulfilling the deepest yearnings of the human heart. In building our lives we need solid foundations which will endure when human certainties fail. Truly, since “for ever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” and the faithfulness of the Lord “endures to all generations” (Ps 119,89-90), whoever builds on this word builds the house of his life on rock (cf. Mt 7,24). May our heart be able to say to God each day: “You are my refuge and my shield; I hope in your word” (Ps 119,114), and, like Saint Peter, may we entrust ourselves in our daily actions to the Lord Jesus: “At your word I will let down the nets” (Lc 5,5).

Christology of the word

11 From this glimpse at 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” (He 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. Gn 15,18) and, through Moses, with the race of Israel (cf. Ex 24,8), he gained a people for himself, and to them he revealed 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. Ps 21,28-29 Ps 95,1-3 Is 2,1-4 Jr 3,17)”.[32]

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 woman” (Ga 4,4). Here the word finds expression not 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 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”.[33] The constant renewal of this encounter and this awareness fills the hearts of believers with amazement at God’s initiative, which human beings, with our own reason and imagination, could never have dreamt of. We are speaking of an unprecedented and humanly inconceivable novelty: “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1,14a). These words are no figure of speech; they point to a lived experience! Saint 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” (Jn 1,14b). The apostolic faith testifies that the eternal Word became one of us. The divine Word is truly expressed inhuman words.

[31] Cf. Benedict XVI, Homily during the Celebration of Terce at the Beginning of the First General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops (6 October 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 758-761.
[32] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, DV 14.
[33] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (25 December 2005), : AAS 98 (2006), 217-218.

12 The patristic and medieval tradition, in contemplating this “Christology of the word”, employed an evocative expression: the word wasabbreviated”.[34] “The Fathers of the Church found in their Greek translation of the Old Testament a passage from the prophet Isaiah that Saint Paul also quotes in order to show how God’s new ways had already been foretold in the Old Testament. There we read: 'The Lord made his word short, he abbreviated it' (Is 10,23 Rm 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”.[35] 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.[36]

Reading the Gospel accounts, we see how Jesus’ own humanity appears in all its uniqueness precisely with regard to the word of God. In his perfect humanity he does the will of the Father at all times; Jesus hears his voice and obeys it with his entire being; he knows the Father and he keeps his word (cf. Jn 8,55); he speaks to us of what the Father has told him (cf. Jn 12,50); I have given them the words which you gave me” (Jn 17,8). Jesus thus shows that he is the divine Logos which is given to us, but at the same time the new Adam, the true man, who unfailingly does not his own will but that of the Father. He “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man” (Lc 2,52). In a perfect way, he hears, embodies and communicates to us the word of God (cf. Lc 5,1).

Jesus’ mission is ultimately fulfilled in the paschal mystery: here we find ourselves before the “word of the cross” (1Co 1,18). The word is muted; it becomes mortal silence, for it has “spoken” exhaustively, holding back nothing of what it had to tell us. The Fathers of the Church, in pondering this mystery, attributed to the Mother of God this touching phrase: “Wordless is the Word of the Father, who made every creature which speaks, lifeless are the eyes of the one at whose word and whose nod all living things move”.[37] Here that “greater” love, the love which gives its life for its friends (cf. Jn 15,13), is truly shared with us.

In this great mystery Jesus is revealed as the word of the new and everlasting covenant: divine freedom and human freedom have definitively met in his crucified flesh, in an indissoluble and eternally valid compact. Jesus himself, at the Last Supper, in instituting the Eucharist, had spoken of a “new and everlasting covenant” in the outpouring of his blood (cf. Mt 26,28 Mc 14,24 Lc 22,20), and shows himself to be the true sacrificial Lamb who brings about our definitive liberation from slavery.[38]

In the most luminous mystery of the resurrection, this silence of the word is shown in its authentic and definitive meaning. Christ, the incarnate, crucified and risen Word of God, is Lord of all things; he is the victor, the Pantocrator, and so all things are gathered up forever in him (cf. Ep 1,10). Christ is thus “the light of the world” (Jn 8,12), the light which “shines in the darkness” (Jn 1,5) and which the darkness has not overcome (cf. Jn 1,5). Here we come to understand fully the meaning of the words of Psalm 119: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (v. Ps 119,105); the risen Word is this definitive light to our path. From the beginning, Christians realized that in Christ the word of God is present as a person. The word of God is the true light which men and women need. In the resurrection the Son of God truly emerged as the light of the world. Now, by living with him and in him, we can live in the light.

[34] “Ho Logos pachynetai (or: brachynetai)”. Cf. Origen, Peri Archon, I, 2,8: SC 252, 127-129.
[35] Benedict XVI, Homily on the Solemnity of the Birth of the Lord (24 December 2006): AAS 99 (2007), 12.
[36] Cf. Final Message, II, 4-6.
[37] Maximus the Confessor, Life of Mary, No. 89: Testi mariani del primo millennio, 2, Rome, 1989, p. 253.
[38] Cf. Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (22 February 2007), 9-10: AAS 99 (2007), 111-112.

Verbum Domini EN