Pope_Benedictus_XVI(On Colossians 1:15-20)

The Greek term eikon, “icon”, is dear to the Apostle: in his Letters he uses it nine times, applying it both to Christ, the perfect icon of God (cf. II Cor 4:4), and to man, the image and glory of God (cf. I Cor 11:7).

However, by sin, men and women “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images representing mortal man” (Rom 1: 23), choosing to worship idols and become like them.

We must therefore continuously model our being and life on the image of that of the Son of God (cf. II Cor 3:18), so that we may be “delivered…from the dominion of darkness” and “transferred… to the Kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col 1: 13).

This is a first imperative in this hymn: to model our life on the image of the Son of God, entering into his sentiments, his will and his thoughts.

Christ is then proclaimed the “firstborn” of “all creation” (v. 15). Christ is before all things (cf. v. 17) because he has been begotten since eternity, for “all things were created through him and for him” (v. 16). The ancient Jewish tradition also says that “the whole world was created in view of the Messiah” (Sanhedrin, 98b).

For the Apostle, Christ is the principle of coherence (“in him all things hold together”), the mediator (“through him”) and the final destination toward which the whole of creation converges.

He is the “firstborn of many brothers” (Rom 8: 29), that is, the Son par excellence in the great family of God’s children, into which we are incorporated by Baptism.

At this point, our gaze turns from the world of creation to that of history. Christ is “the Head of the Body, the Church” (Col 1: 18); he already became this through his Incarnation.

Indeed, he entered the human community to support it and make it into a “body”, that is, in harmonious and fruitful unity. Christ is the root, the vital pivot and “the beginning” of the coherence and growth of humanity.

Precisely with this primacy Christ can become the principle of the resurrection of all, the “firstborn from the dead”, so that “in Christ all will come to life again”: first Christ, the first fruits; then, at his coming, all those who belong to Christ (cf. I Cor 15:22-23).

The Canticle draws to a close celebrating the “fullness”, in Greek pleroma, which Christ possesses in himself as a gift of love of the Father. It is the fullness of divinity that shines out, both in the universe and in humanity, becoming a source of peace, unity and perfect harmony (Col 1: 19-20).

[…] By pouring out his Blood and giving himself, Christ has spread peace, which in biblical language is a synthesis of the Messianic goods and saving fullness extended to the whole of created reality.

Benedict XVI (b. 1927): Commentary on the Psalms and Canticles of Vespers (General Audience, 7th September 2005).