S. John Paul II Homil. 514
“Ice Sports Hall”, Helsinki (Finland)
515 Monday, 5 June 1989
“Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights” (Iac. 1, 17).
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. In this solemn act of worship we celebrate the Eucharist of Jesus Christ. In union with him we give thanks to “the Father of lights” for “every perfect gift”. I join you today in this great act of thanks-giving, joyful in the knowledge of all the great gifts of creation and redemption with which God has blessed Finland: your homeland and your heritage. I come as a brother in Christ, as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, to Helsinki, the capital of your beautiful country. This is the first time that a Pope sets foot on Finnish soil. For this gift too I am deeply moved and grateful.
I am happy to celebrate this Liturgy with my brother bishops, especially with Bishop Verschuren, to whom I extend heartfelt congratulations in this twenty-fifth year of his Episcopal ministry. My cordial greeting goes to the priests of the Diocese of Helsinki and to all the men and women religious who are Christ’s servants in Finland. Nor may I fail to extend a special greeting to the young people who are to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this afternoon, and to their parents, priests and teachers, who by instruction, good example and prayer have prepared them for this day. Finally, with great joy I welcome the Catholics who have come from Estonia, which since the Middle Ages has been known as the “ land of Mary ” – Maarjamaa.
Text in Finnish:
Toivotan Jumalan siunausta koko Suomen kansalle ja sen kauniille kotimaalle. Antakoon Jumala teille armoa ja viisautta rakentaa isänmaatanne rakkaudella ja viisaudella, niin etta teidän nuorisonne voisi luottaen katsoa tulevaisuuteen.
Jag ber att Gud ma välsigna alla familjer och alla som uppfostrar barn, sa att Finland genom dem kunde bevara sitt kristna arv och sina värdefulla traditioner at kommande generationer.
All the people of Finland – those from furthest South to the hardy people of the far North, the Lapps – rightly prize their freedom and independence following the wars and occupations of past centuries. You seek to protect your freedom through a democratic way of life. Drawn together by the rigours of a harsh climate, you have forged a close-knit society which cherishes the ideals of peace, justice and harmony, a society which esteems education in the best traditions of the Finnish scholars who already could be found centuries ago throughout Europe. You have also won international acclaim for helping others to reconcile their disagreements and conflicts. For all the gifts of nature and grace that are yours in this country I join you in giving thanks to God, the Father and Creator of us all. And with all my heart I say: May God protect Finland!
Jumala varjelkoon Suomea.
516 Gud beskydde Finland!
2. Dear brothers and sisters: think for a moment of all that God has done for us. Not only has he created us in his image and likeness, giving us life and breath and all the gifts of the created world; as we read today in the Letter of James, he has also “brought us forth by the word of truth” (Iac. 1, 18). This “bringing forth” refers to the fact that when we were spiritually dead because of sin, God did not abandon us but brought us back to life. He created us anew so that we might be holy in this life and eternally happy with him in the next. We have been given the gift of adoption as God’s own children, sharing divine life.
This gift of redemption is accomplished through “the Word of truth”, the Eternal Son and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. As Saint Peter boldly proclaims in the reading we heard from the Acts of the Apostles, the Crucified and Risen Christ “is Lord of all... every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Ac 10,36 Ac 10,43). This is truly the greatest gift of “the Father of lights” to humanity and all creation: the gift of his Son, “the Word made flesh” (Jn 1,14) conceived and born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. We also know that before he ascended into heaven, Christ promised the same Spirit to his disciples, “to complete his work on earth and bring us the fullness of grace” ("Prex Eucharistica" IV). On the first Pentecost Sunday this promise was fulfilled when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room at Jerusalem and immediately began to proclaim the Good News of salvation to people from every nation. Thus the great gift of redemption – our being “brought forth” to divine life – is a mighty work of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It must be received by us in faith. It must be lived. It must be proclaimed.
Thanks to the preaching of the Gospel that began with the apostles, the message of God’s mighty works reached Finland generations ago. We give thanks today for this too: that countless sons and daughters of this nation have been reborn to new life over the centuries through Baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The young men and women who are to be confirmed today can look back to their Christian ancestors who sought with God’s help to live a life in the Spirit: a life of love, joy, peace, and patience; a life marked by kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. Many Christian models of holiness are known only to their families, neighbours, co-workers and friends. They are people who glorified God in the ordinary circumstances of daily life. Others are part of your national history: figures like Saint Henrik, the patron Saint of Finland, who sowed the seeds of faith and gave witness to his love for Christ by the shedding of his blood; and Blessed Hemming, the Bishop of Turku, who came on pilgrimage to my predecessor Pope Clement VI to present the message of Saint Birgitta and to plead for peace. They are part of a history of faith that continues with those to be confirmed today.
Text in Finnish:
Rakkaat nuoret ystäväni, jotka otatte vastaan vahvistuksen sakramentin: te olette kerran uudestisyntyneet kasteessa, nyt teidät sidotaan vielä läheisemmin Kristukseen ja vahvistetaan Pyhän Hengen erityisellä voimalla (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 11): viisauden ja ymmärryksen henki, neuvon ja voiman henki, tiedon ja Herran pelon henki. Tämä on erittäin tärkeä päivä kirkon jsenydessänne, koska vahvistettuina katolilaisina teidän odotetaan antautuvan lähetystehtävään, sillä muita Kristuksen luokse. Hän luottaa apuunne maailman muuttamisessa Jumalan perheeksi. Pyhän Paavalin lausumia sanoja opetuslapselleen Timoteukselle voidaan soveltaa teihin. Hän sanoo: çlkâân soveltaa teihin. Hän sanoo: Äköön kukaan nuoruuttasi katsoko ylen, vaan ole sinä uskovaisten esikuva puheessa, vaelluksessa, rakkaudessa, uskossa, puhtaudessa" (1Tm 4,12).
Voitte olla luottavaisia, että Jumala haluaa auttaa teitä täyttämän tämän tehtävän viettää kristityn elämää. Vahvistuksen sakramentista johtuva armo auttaa teitä sanomaan «kyllä» Kristukselle ja «ei» jumalattomuudelle ja synnille. Te kykenette kärsivällisinä kestämään koetukset ja houkutukset, sillä kuten Pyhä Jaakob sanoo meille: «Älköön kukaan, kiusauksessa ollessaan, sanoko: "Jumala minua kiusaa", sillä Jumala ei ole pahan kiusattavissa, eikä hän ketään kiusaa» (Iac. 1, 13). Kiusauksen voimaa ei tule aliarvioida, mutta voimme olla varmoja sen voittamisesta Jumalan avulla, jos yritåmme joka päivä koko sydämellämme tehdä hyvää ja välttää pahaa. Jumala näyttää meille aina tien, jotta emme lannistuisi tai joutuisi epätoivoon. Kehoitan teitä olemaan uskollisia ja vahvoja, niin, että maailmassa jossa on tarjolla niin monia pinnallisia ja tyhjiä lupauksia, ette koskaan valitse maalista valtaa, omaisuutta tai huvituksia Kristuksen sijaan. Älkää koskaan vaihtako vapautta joka teillä on Jumalan lapsina, orjuuteen kikä tulee itsekkyydestä ja synnistä.
4. Dear brothers and sisters gathered around this altar and all who hear my voice: “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Iac. 1, 13). The confirmation of these young men and women today reminds those of us who are already confirmed of the promises we made and the gifts we received from above. The endowments and gifts that we enjoy carry a serious responsibility. We must be stewards of the gifts of creation and redemption that God has lavished upon us.
One of the great gifts of the Spirit to the Church is the gift of unity for which Christ prayed on the eve of his passion and death. We who have been sealed with the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation must ask what we have done with this gift. Cannot all Christians accept together the challenge of Christian living? Can we not renew together our Baptismal commitment to “turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel”? (Cfr. Marc. 1, 15). As members of the one Body of Christ, may we be good stewards of the gift of unity. May we look with confidence and hope to the restoration of our full communion. This too can only come as a gift of the Holy Spirit, a mighty act of God for which we must work and pray.
Today’s Gospel parable (Cfr. Luc Lc 19,11-17) offers an important lesson in stewardship. A servant entrusted with a sum of money increases its value by wise investment and thus earns the praise of his master. If we, like that servant, are “faithful in small things” (Cfr. ibid. 19, 17), then we too will receive greater, indeed the greatest gift of all: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Co 2,9).
517 5. Dear brothers and sisters: here in this “White City of the North”, this “Daughter of the Baltic”, let us raise our minds and hearts to God in thanksgiving for all his gifts, and especially for the gift of the Holy Spirit which is to be conferred in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Let us pray for the light and strength that each of us needs to be “good stewards of God’s varied grace... in order that in everything (he) may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1P 4,10-11).
Tuesday, 6 June 1989
“God loved the world” (Jn 3,16).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. With these words of the Gospel fixed in our minds and hearts, we gather in this beautiful spot to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. I see represented among you the many different groups of people who make up the Catholic Church in Denmark. It is a joy for me to celebrate this Liturgy with Bishop Martensen, the clergy, the religious and all of you present.
We come together here at Aasebakken, a Catholic place of pilgrimage in honour of the Virgin Mary “full of grace” (Lc 1,28), who by believing and obeying gave birth to the Eternal Son of the Father “who loved the world”. I greet the Benedictine nuns who pray and work here, and I thank them for the hospitality shown to us and to all those who come here as pilgrims.
To the whole Catholic community in Denmark, consisting of so many different elements, I express my affection in the Lord and my pleasure at being able to make this pastoral visit. Those of you who are Danish by birth and ancestry can be proud of your beautiful country and her history, so deeply rooted in the Christian Gospel.I am also happy to see among you representatives of the Catholic communities of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, who have made the long journey in order to take part in this Mass.
Text in Danish
Selv om de Katolske menigheder i Danmark er sma, er de ikke mindre vigtige for det hierarkiske faellesskab med den universelle Kirke, med hvilken de er knyttet med enhedens, barmhjertighedens og fredens band. Hele Kirken henter styrke og inspiration for dens mission fra jeres bønner og gudsdyrkelse og fra jeres trofaste vidnesbyrd for Kristus.
518 For nylig i Rom, sammen med mange af jer, havde jeg den glaede at aere en af Danmarks største sønner, Niels Steensen.
Matte Kristi lvs altid braende klart, gennem hans eksempel og hans bønner, blandt katolikkerne i hans faedreland.
I know that the Catholic Church in Denmark also includes a number of Poles, whose arrival in this country both at the beginning of this century and in more recent years has led to the establishment of many new Danish parishes.
Drodzy synowie i córki polskiego pochodzenia! Oby wiara Katolicka, która wy i wasze rodziny przyniesliscie z Polski, nie tylko zostala zachowana, ale równiez wzrastala w waszej nowej ojczyznie. Zachowujac wiare i jej tradycje, pomagacie w budowaniu Kosciola w Danii. W ten sposób wraz ze wszystkimi waszymi bracmi katolikami w tym kraju dajecie swój wklad zarówno duchowy, jak i materialny w pomyslnosc spoleczenstwa dunskiego. Niech dawne wiezy przyjazni, laczace Danie i Polske, umacniaja sie w tym krytycznym, ale pelnym nadziei okresie dla kraju naszych przodków.
To all the other groups of Catholics I also extend a cordial greeting in the Lord: to the Croatians and Hungarians; to those from other countries in Europe; from North and South America and from Africa; from the Philippines and elsewhere in the Far East, who have left their mark on the Church especially in the Copenhagen area. I also greet those from Vietnam who have come here over the past twenty years in order to find refuge from the sufferings of their native land. From Vietnam you have brought a living faith. May it flourish and grow here, and enrich your new homeland.
I cannot fail to say a few words to the Catholic visitors from Germany.
Liebe Brüder und Schwestern aus Deutschland!
Seit vielen Jahren seid ihr mit der Kirche in Dänemark eng verbunden, Ihr habt ihr auf viele Weisen Hilfe und Unterstützung gegeben. Möge diese heutige Feier das geistliche Band des Glaubens stärken, das alle menschlichen Unterschiede zwischen Völkern und Nationen übersteigt. Mögen wir alle in gegenseitiger Anteilnahme und Liebe vereint sein!
Finally, I wish to assure the members of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, especially the Lutheran Church, that I am grateful for your presence here today. With God’s help may we walk together on the pilgrimage of faith that begins with Baptism, so that in a world that often lacks faith we may bear effective witness to the divine love proclaimed in today’s Gospel.
2. “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3,16).
Dear brothers and sisters: these words were spoken by Christ to Nicodemus. They are recorded by the Evangelist John – the “beloved disciple” – who wrote his Gospel last, after those of Matthew, Mark and Luke. One can say that he views things from a “more distant” perspective. The words spoken to Nicodemus and etched in his memory are heard by John in the context of all that Christ revealed by word and deed, and especially by his Cross and Resurrection.
519 In today’s liturgy we read these words from yet another perspective. The Prophet Isaiah, writing centuries before Christ, “looks”, so to speak, at what lies ahead: at the future. What he describes, is destined to happen in the “fullness of time”. Nevertheless, we are struck by the keenness of his vision: Behold, “to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder” (Is 9,6). Perhaps he wrote this at the birth of an earthly ruler, but the words refer to a Sovereign whom the Prophet called “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Ibid.). It is the text we read on the Solemnity of the Lord’s Birth, at Christmas.
The Evangelist John is traditionally symbolized by an eagle. One might say that the “eagle eye” of the Prophet and of the Evangelist converge on the same mystery, expressed by Saint John in the words: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son”. This “giving” goes beyond Christmas night at Bethlehem, beyond the Incarnation of God. It goes all the way to the Paschal Mystery: to the night that fell after Christ’s Death and to the dawn that marked the Resurrection. Through the events of the Paschal Mystery, which remained so vivid in the memory of the Evangelist and of the earliest Church community, the mission of Christ was fulfilled: his messianic mission.
“God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved” (Jn 3,17).
This reveals the full meaning of the words: “God loved the world”.
3. God already loved in this way at the creation. The Creator took delight in everything that came forth from the creative power of his Word. He rejoiced and continues to rejoice above all in man, created in his image and likeness. The joy which attended creation – as the Book of Genesis reminds us – is an expression of God’s creative love. He created because he loved.
It was by way of man’s heart that sin entered the world; that is, through man’s refusal to accept the Love that is God. It is a refusal that casts a shadow of evil and death over human history. In our day it takes the form of widespread indifference to the things of God, materialism that values “having” over “being”, and a readiness to disregard human life or manipulate it without reference to the inviolable dignity and rights possessed by every human person from conception until natural death.
God called man into existence through love; he called him at the same time for love. Sin, however, wounds even the most fundamental of loving relationships, that of marriage, by making us think that it is too difficult, if not impossible, to be bound to one person faithfully for life. In a world in which the bitter fruits of sin are despair and loneliness – an existence without meaning, without love, without God – the Church says “yes” to the mysteries of love and of life (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Familiaris Consortio FC 11 FC 20 FC 30).
4. Can we not say that by man’s sinfulness creation “tests” the Creator’s love? From a human point of view we may be inclined to say so. But God is greater. Love is greater than sin. In the face of man’s refusal God does not respond by refusing man. God responds with more love. He responds with a Gift.
“God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son...
520 not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved”.
Isaiah spoke of the “sovereignty” that the Messiah would possess.
Yes, upon his shoulders was placed the sovereignty of the love that saves – upon the very shoulders of the only-begotten Son who was destined to hang on the Cross at Golgotha. In that moment God loved the world in his crucified Son, and the Son – the Christ – “loved us even to the end” (Cfr. Io Jn 13,1).
Love is a saving force. It alone can save. God saves because he is Love. Christ saves because “he loved to the end”: even to Death on a Cross. He had every reason and every right to “judge the world” – to condemn man because of sin. He chose the love which saves, which raises up again, which purifies, which sanctifies. Of this love Saint John says: “the light has come into the world” (Jn 3,19). Love is the light of the world. Christ is that light.
5. Light is opposed to darkness. Of itself the “world” is not the light, even though to the discerning eye it can reveal God the Creator who is love. The light which is in creatures is clearly not sufficient. This is especially true if through sin man’s spiritual gaze turns away from God’s light. Then the world becomes darkness rather than light: it becomes a place of death for the immortal human being.
Hence another light was necessary: not the light that the world can give. It was necessary that God should give his Son who is the Word, of one being with the Father. It was necessary that the Son should give himself on the Cross, that he himself should accept the death that awaited him in the world. It was necessary that by this death he should conquer death, that in the Resurrection he should reveal the power of life.
“God loved the world so much”. Through Christ’s Death, through his Cross and Resurrection, the contrast between light and darkness, between good and evil, can be seen still more clearly. Saint John was aware of this when he wrote:
“...everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it.
for fear his actions should be exposed;
521 but the man who lives by the truth
comes out into the light
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does
is done in God” (Ibid. 3, 20-21).
These words express the fundamental challenge of the Gospel: it is the unceasing challenge to come into the light. Is the “wrongdoer” really unable to come to the light? Surely he is able to overcome the fear that his deeds will meet with condemnation. For, as the light of the world, has not the Crucified and Risen Christ come to save rather than to judge? Herein lies the challenge of the Gospel for each of us. The challenge to acknowledge in faith that
– the “jealous” love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit revealed in Christ’s Paschal Mystery remains in the world,
– it remains in us. Amen.
Wednesday, 7 June 1989
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mt 28,18).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
522 1. Christ spoke these words at the end of his messianic mission. He was about to complete his earthly sojourn. He had to return to the Father. “All authority in heaven and on earth” is the result of his redeeming work. The Son of God, of one being with the Father, has authority because of his divinity; the Son of God, sent into the world as man, has obtained authority at the price of his blood.
By virtue of this authority, Christ, as he returns to the Father, sends the apostles out into the whole world: “Go... make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Ibid. 28, 19). These words receive their full meaning on Pentecost Day in Jerusalem. This marks the Church’s beginning in history: in that holy city, in Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles assembled in the Upper Room with Christ’s Mother is the beginning of the age of the Church.
Every nation is destined to hear Christ’s words. Therefore, today we must ask: How and when did the apostles of Christ arrive in your native land? Who were the first among your ancestors to be baptized? How long has it been since your nation entered that Kingdom, which Christ entrusted to his apostles and to all those who would build on the foundation which they had laid? These questions can be answered in different ways by the various groups of Catholics present here today.
[Text in Danish]
Det er med stor glaede at jeg fejrer denne eukaresti sammen med alle jer i disse smukke omgivelser, hvor ruinerne of Cistercienser klosteret minder os om evengeliseringen af det vestlige Danmark for mange arhundreder siden. I som er Katolikker af dansk oprindelse kan se tilbage med taksomhed og stolthed til dem som har vaeret før jer i troen, til dem som i, hver generation har taget Herrens bud til hjertet at "gøre disciple af alle nationerne".
Matte I altid leve og vokse i denne tro.
I also wish to greet the Danish Catholics of Polish or Vietnamese descent, as well as the visitors from Germany:
[Text in Polish]
Drodzy bracia i siostry polskiego pochodzenia! Niektóre z waszych rodzin przebywaja tutaj od czasów pierwszej wojny swiatowej. Inni sa emigrantami nowszej daty. Stanowicie pomost chrzescijanskiej wiary i kultury w Europie Pólnocnej. Niech milosc do Matki Bozej, która wy i wasze rodziny przyniesliscie z Polski, nadal wzrasta w sanktuariach, takich jak tutejsze sanktuarium w Om. Oby ta milosc podtrzymywala was zawsze w praktykowaniu waszej wiary katolickiej.
[Text in Vietnamese]
Trong Chúa, tôi thân ái chào mùng anh chi em den tù Viêt Nam. Nám ngoái, nhiêu nguòi trong anh chi em dã vê Roma, du lê Phong Thánh cho các Chân Phuóc Tu Dao Viêt Nam, và ít lâu sau môt Trung Tâm hành huong dâng kính các ngài dã duoc xây tai dây. Tôi cãu xin cho anh chi em luôn duoc guong anh dung làm chúng cho Tin Mùng cua các Ngài soi sáng, dê anh chi em cung kiên trung sông Dúc Tin Công giáo, và duy tri các truyén thông gia dinh manh me cua anh chi em.
[Text in German]
523 Liebe Brüder und Schwestern aus Norddeutschland, eure Anwesenheit erinnert uns daran, daß unser Glaube alle Grenzen überschreitet und uns alle als eine einzige Familie Gottes vereint. Es ist eine große Freude für mich, daß mein Besuch in Dänemark es euch ermöglicht, diese Eucharistie mit dem Papst zu feiern. Ich hoffe, daß meine Anwesenheit euch in eurem katholischen Glauben sowie in eurer Liebe zu Christus und zu seiner Kirche stärkt.
2. I know that Catholics in this part of Denmark sometimes feel isolated because of the distance which separates them from one another. The fact that few Catholics are nearby to offer fellowship and support presents you with a special challenge as you seek to practise the faith and to bring up your children as Catholics. Always remember that even the most isolated Catholics are not alone. The smallest of your communities in the North is still part of the universal Church; each is united with the Church in Rome and with Catholics in every land and nation.
Another source of encouragement for you is the example given by many of your neighbours who, though not Catholic, try to live their lives in fidelity to their Christian Baptism. They desire with all their hearts to follow Jesus Christ and serve him. A true ecumenical spirit enables Christians to respect each other as fellow pilgrims and to help one another to proclaim the Gospel. Together we can bear witness to God’s love, by meeting the spiritual and material needs of others, and by bearing witness to Christ among those who have little faith or none at all. To all the members of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities here today I offer a special greeting of peace.
3. As we recall the Lord’s command to make disciples of all nations, we must keep in mind the invisible action of the Holy Spirit who is at work in the whole of creation. To use the words of the Creed, we profess the Holy Spirit to be truly the “giver of life”.
People today are aware of theories about how the universe came into existence. But Saint Paul sees something in creation that is not visible to scientists, something that escapes the largest of telescopes as well as the most refined of microscopes. In his Letter to the Romans he makes us aware of another kind of development which is also at work in the created world: the process of transformation in the Holy Spirit, by which humanity and all creation are prepared for the Kingdom of God.
Paul writes that “the whole creation has been groaning in travail together... and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rm 8,22-23). The Holy Spirit is at work in the power of the Redemption; and his invisible action strengthens the apostolic mission of the Church among the nations. it is in this sense above all that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given” to Christ as Redeemer of the world.
4. The power of the Holy Spirit at work in creation makes us a people of hope. Amid all our experiences of the material world hope preserves within us the certainty of another world: the Kingdom in which God will be “all in all” (cfr. 1Cor 1Co 15,28). Hope is like a dynamo of energy for the divine realization of God’s plan for the future of the world, and especially for the future of the human family. The future of man in God – this is what Saint Paul is referring to when he says: “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience”.
At times this hope is tested. We may be tempted to think that evil is stronger than good.Prejudice, conflict and hatred take a fearful toll on the human spirit and leave destruction, suffering and death in their wake. Slavery to self under the guise of freedom leads to the exploitation of others and the lessening of one’s own human dignity, even the loss of one’s soul. There are also the more subtle temptations that come from the indiscriminate pursuit of material things. These can blind us to the transcendent spiritual destiny of which Saint Paul speaks. And then there is the greatest temptation of all, fostered by the illusion of self-sufficiency in a technological world the temptation to forget the God who made us, the temptation to live and do as we please without obedience to his law. This is to forget the truth about all created beings expressed in the words of today’s Responsorial Psalm:
“If you, Lord, take back your spirit, they die,
returning to the dust from which they came,
you send forth your spirit, they are created;
524 and you renew the face of the earth” (Cfr. Ps Ps 104,29-30)
At this liturgy, dear brothers and sisters, we proclaim an end to all hopelessness, an end to all despair. We celebrate the future of man in God made possible by Christ’s victory over sin. We rejoice that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rm 8,26). He is constantly coming to the Church in order to help her. He also comes to each one of us so that we may fulfil our earthly responsibilities towards the Kingdom of God and the gift of eternal life.
Christian faith radiates hope, even as it challenges us with the Cross, with personal conversion. Christ conquered sin by dying for sinners, and he now reigns in our world with the hidden power of love, the power of the Holy Spirit, even in the midst of sin. As Christians we are individually called to believe in this hidden power We are also called like the first apostles to proclaim God’s Kingdom by word and deed: “Go... make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28,19).
5. Within this context of hope I wish to say a word to all the young people here today. I understand that for many years Øm has been a centre for youth activities, which have given young Catholics an experience of fellowship, a shared sense of belonging to the Church. I join the whole Church in Denmark in fervent prayer that the gift of eternal life which each of you received at your Baptism will never be lost because of indifference or forgetfulness of God. Like the first apostles, you too are called to be disciples and to make disciples of others among your families, friends and community.
You are a very vital part of the future of humanity in God. To keep alive this hope you can rely on prayer, both in private and at Church in public worship, to show you the path which God wishes you to follow in life.
To those engaged in youth work, especially the representatives from the Catholic schools, I offer every encouragement and support. Yours is the truly noble task of helping young Catholics to grow in their faith and of forming them, and others too, in Christian living and virtue.
6. On Pentecost Day, at the beginning of the Church’s pilgrimage towards the future of humanity in God, we know that Mary was in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Though she did not receive the apostles’ apostolic mission, the example of her heroic faith and witness to the mystery of Christ precedes the witness of the Church in every land and nation.
Here, at Øm, where Mary is honoured by the Catholics of Jutland and Funen, let us look to her,
– who by faith brought forth Christ into the world through the power of the Holy Spirit;
– who “in hope believed against hope” (Rm 4,18) at the foot of the Cross;
– who in the centuries since Pentecost remains “devoted in prayer” with all her Son’s disciples;
525 – who is present in the Church’s work of introducing into the world the Kingdom of God.
Holy Mary, Mother of Divine Love, intercede for us with your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
S. John Paul II Homil. 514