S. John Paul II Homil. 60
60 What is Grace? "It is a gift of God." The gift that is explained with his Love. The gift is where there is love. And Love is revealed by means of the Cross. This is what Jesus said to Nicodemus. Love, which is revealed by means of the Cross, is precisely Grace. God's innermost face is revealed in it. He is not just the judge. He is the God of infinite majesty and extreme justice. He is the Father who wishes the world to be saved and to understand the meaning of the Cross. This is greater eloquence than the meaning of the Law and the penalty. It is the word which speaks to human consciences in a different way. It is the word which obliges in a different way from the words of the Law and the threat of the penalty. To understand this word it is necessary to become a changed man. The man of Grace and Truth. Grace is a binding gift! The Gift of the Living God, which commits man to the new life! And it is just this in which that judgment, of which Christ also speaks to Nicodemus, consists: the Cross saves and at the same time judges. It judges differently. It judges more deeply. "For everyone who does evil hates the light"... just that stupendous light that comes from the Cross!... But he who does what is true comes to the light" (Jn 3,20-21). He comes to the Cross. He submits to the requirements of grace. He wants to be bound by that unutterable gift of God. He wants it to form his whole life. This man feels in the Cross the voice of God who addresses his sons on this earth of ours, in the same way as he once spoke to the exiles of Israel through Cyrus, King of Persia, with the invocation of hope. The Cross is the invocation of hope.
4. Gathered at this Lenten Station of Christ's Cross, we must ask ourselves these fundamental questions which flow to us from the Cross. What have we done and what are we doing in order to know God better? This God, who revealed Christ to us. Who is he for us? What place does he occupy in our consciousness, in our life?
Let us question ourselves about this place, because so many factors and so many circumstances take away from God this place in us. Has God not already become for us just marginal? Has his name not been covered in our soul with a lot of other words? Has it not been trodden underfoot, like that seed which "fell along the path" (Mc 4,4)? Have we not inwardly renounced redemption by means of the Cross of Christ, putting in its place other purely temporal, partial, and superficial programmes?
5. The Sanctuary of the Holy Cross is a place in which we must ask ourselves these fundamental questions. The Parish is a community, reanimated by the Cross of Christ.
What are we to say about our parish Community?
I hope that, alive and active since1910, it will always pulsate with Christian life, fecundated by fervent and assiduous presence at the sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation; that, enlightened by continual catechesis, at all levels, for deeper study of the Word of God and for knowledge of Jesus Christ, it will express itself in active and generous dedication to brothers who need our work and our affection in any way.
Taking the opportunity from this visit today, which is at the same time a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Cross of Christ, I unite with all of you present here.
I wish to unite with the parish priest, to whose zeal and responsibility is entrusted this portion of the People of God; with the priests who collaborate with him in the parish apostolate; with the Monastic Community of the Cistercians, who bring the spirit of St Bernard to life again in prayer and sacrifice. I unite with the fathers and mothers, who give themselves with exemplary abnegation for the good of their children. I unite with young men and women, who wish to make their contribution of ideas and industry for the growth of a better society. I unite with youngsters and children, who make this world joyful with their natural innocence. I unite with the Sisters who carry out their apostolate within the parish: the Apostles of the Sacred Heart, the Daughters of Our Lady at Mount Calvary, the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate, the Carmelite Sisters, the Daughters of Our Lady of Purity, the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, the Sisters of St Joseph, the Sisters of the Poor of St Vincent, the Franciscan Tertiary Sisters of All Saints, the Sisters Daughters of Mercy, the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, the Cistercian Oblate Sisters of Charity. But, in particular, I unite with the poor, the sick, the old, with all those suffering loneliness, incomprehension, rejection, hunger for affection; and I ask them to unite with Christ hanging on the Cross, and to offer their sufferings for the Church and for the Pope.
And let us humbly confess our faults, our shortcomings, our indifference with regard to this Love which was revealed on the Cross. And at the same time let us renew ourselves in the spirit with the great desire for Life, the Life of Grace, which continually raises man, strengthens him, commits him. That grace which gives our existence on earth its full dimension.
30 March 1979
61 Beloved Brothers and Friends in the Lord!
As in past years, you, the personnel of the Vatican Polyglot Printing House and of L'Osservatore Romano, have prepared with some days of "Spiritual Exercises" to carry out the "Easter Precept". And this morning you are gathered here to meet, as a community and personally, Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, him who is our "Pasch".
And I very willingly accepted the invitation to be with you to take part in this mystical and solemn rite, and to make relations between the Vicar of Christ and the Personnel of the various Vatican organisms more and more cordial and personal.
You are here to celebrate "Easter" according to the authoritative and motherly command of the Church. Wishing to leave you a memory that will serve as reflection and exhortation to serious and constant resolutions, I take the theme from the readings of today's Liturgy.
1. In chapter seven of the Fourth Gospel, the Evangelist John carefully notes the perplexity of many persons in Jerusalem concerning the real identity of Jesus. It was the feast of Tabernacles, in memory of the Hebrews' stay in the desert; there was a great movement of people in the Holy City, and Jesus was teaching in the temple. Some people said: "Is not this the man whom they [the religious authorities] seek to kill? Here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him. Can it be that the authorities really know, that this is the Christ? Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from."
These statements indicate the perplexity of the Jews of that time: they are waiting for the Messiah; they know that there will be something secret and mysterious about the Messiah; they think that Jesus might even be he, in view of the miracles he works and the doctrine he teaches; but they are not sure, owing to the fact that the official religious authorities are against him and would even like to eliminate him.
And Jesus then explains the reason for their perplexity and their unawareness of his real identity: they judge only by external, civic, and family features, and do not go beyond his human nature; they do not penetrate the wrappings of his appearance. "You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me."
It is a historical event, narrated by the Gospel, but it is also the symbol of a perennial reality: many people do not know or do not want to know who Jesus Christ is, and they remain perplexed and disconcerted. In fact, just as they then tried to arrest him, after his speech then in the Temple, so some people sometimes challenge him and fight against him. You, on the other hand, know who Jesus is; you know where he came from and why he came! You knew that Jesus is the Word Incarnate, Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, who assumed a human body; he is the Son of God become man, who died on the cross for our salvation, rose again glorious, and is always present with us in the Eucharist.
What Jesus said to the Apostles at the Last Supper, also holds good for all Christians enlightened by the Magisterium of the Church: "This is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent... I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world... Now they know that everything that thou hast given me is from thee; for I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me... O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me" (Jn 17,3-9,25).
The great tragedy of history is that Jesus is not known, and therefore is not loved, not followed.
You know Christ! You know who he is! Yours is a great privilege! Always be worthy and aware of it!
62 Hence springs your "paschal" joy and your Christian responsibility. May the "paschal" meeting with Jesus in the Eucharist give you the strength to deepen this knowledge of Jesus, to make your faith a firm point of reference in spite of the indifference of hostility of a large part of the world in which we must live.
2. The book of Wisdom (Chapter Two), analysing the characteristics of the righteous man and of the wicked man, sketches in a practical way what the testimony of the responsible and consistent Christian must be. The righteous man—the book of Wisdom says—professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord; he boasts that God is his father.
To have knowledge of God! To have God as Father! These are tremendous statements, which put philosophers in a crisis! Well, the Christian knows and bears witness that he knows God as Father, as Love, as Providence.
God is the Lord of life and of history, and in his fatherly love the Christian abandons himself trustfully.
The life of the righteous man is different from that of others, and his ways are quite different, and so he ends up by being a reproof and condemnation for those who do not live righteously, blinded by wickedness, and do not want to know "God's secrets".
The Christian, in fact, is in the world, but not of the world (cf. Jn Jn 17,16); his life must necessarily be different from the life of those who do not have faith. His behaviour, his lifestyle, his way of thinking, making choices, evaluating things and situations are different, because they take place in the light of the word of Christ, which is a message of eternal life.
Finally—still according to Wisdom—the righteous die in bliss, while the wicked do not "hope for the wages of holiness nor discern the prize for blameless souls" (Sg 2,22).
The Christian must live in the perspective of eternity. Sometimes his truly Christian life may give rise even to persecution, open or underhand: "Let us see if his words are true: let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance." The certainty of the eternal happiness that awaits us makes the Christian strong against temptations and patient in tribulations. "If they persecuted me," the Divine Master said, "they will persecute you" (Jn 15,20).
My wish for you is that the paschal meeting with Jesus may bring you the joy and strength of witness, convinced that after the terrible grief of Good Friday there gushes forth the glorious joy of the Sunday of Resurrection!
3. Finally, the liturgy makes us meditate further on human weakness and frailty, and on the need of trusting completely in God's mercy: "The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit... none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned" (Ps 34).
Always, but especially in modern society, so feverish and violent, does the Christian feel the need of having recourse to the Lord with prayer and by means of the sacraments.
63 So continue, you too, to draw light and strength from the Sacraments of Penance and of the Eucharist, in which God "has placed the remedy for our weakness". Accept with joy the fruits of the Redemption, and manifest them in your daily life, at home, at work, in leisure, in the various activities, convinced that he who receives Christ must be transformed into him: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me" (Jn 6,56-57).
A great honour! A sublime commitment!
With these wishes, asking for the special assistance of the Blessed Virgin, I sincerely trust that the lives of you all and of your dear ones will always enjoy, and cause others to enjoy, the happiness of Christian Easter.
31 March 1979
The Eucharist we are celebrating together is the sign of particular unity with Christ, the one eternal Priest, who "entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking... his own blood" (He 9,12). The same Christ is always present in the Church "to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20). He dwells in her, gathering the people of God round the table of the Word and of the Eucharist. He dwells in her through our priestly service.
When we find ourselves around the altar in this way today, in this communion that we formed formerly at the Belgian College in Rome, our hearts are then filled with gratitude for the gift of the priestly vocation, because he has chosen us so that we may go and bear fruit (Jn 15,16), because, entrusting his mysteries to us, he has entrusted to us men who have "redemption through his blood" (Ep 1,7). Looking at all that with the eyes of faith, we feel our worthlessness and we are always ready to repeat: "We are unworthy servants" (Lc 17,10) We always feel, too, the greatness of God and we thank God for this gift. "O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good" (Ps 106,1).
Today, we wish to address this gratitude to one another. The Lord wishes us to know how to be grateful to men, to look at our life from the point of view of the gifts received through men, our brothers. Thus, I would like today, with you, to look back on those years which gathered us within the walls of the old Belgian College, situated at 26 Via del Quirinale, in the neighbourhood of St Andrew's Church where St. Stanislaus Kostka, the Patron Saint of youth, died and rests.
Some thirty years separate us from that time. One might yield to the laws of time which bring us, among other things, to forgetfulness. But the voice of the heart is stronger, which asks us to keep things in our memory and think of them again with gratitude. Today we thank Christ who bestowed on us the grace of being together, in this important period of our lives, when we were still in the first years of our priesthood or preparing for it. "Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum": "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (Ps 133,1).
We thank God for having let us be brothers for one another, and our gratitude is also reciprocal among us. He let us live this brotherhood which unites men coming from different families, different nations, different continents, for that was how he gathered us then. We say: thanks for what each one was for the others at that time and for what everyone was for everyone. Thanks for the way we shared with others our qualities of intelligence, character and heart. Thanks for the place that the studies then in progress had, in this mutual exchange, as well as the apostolic and pastoral experiences in which each one of us was already engaged. Thanks for what sacred Rome was for us, as we learned to know it systematically as the capital of antiquity and the capital of Christendom. Thanks for what was the experience of Europe, of the world, of each of our countries, which were then picking themselves up after the sufferings of the second world war.
Let us think finally of what our Superiors were for us: our revered Rector, Cardinal de Furstenberg, who is present in our midst today; and also our Bishops who came to see us, who visited us at the College, as well as other ecclesiastics, the apostles of their time, such as Father Cardijn, not to mention the learned professors, the preachers of retreats, the directors of conscience: what have they been for us?
64 We want to speak of all that, in the first place, to Christ himself, beginning with this concelebration, this liturgy. And this concelebration permits us also to express ourselves to one another. We also wish to renew this spirit that we received through the "laying on of hands" (cf. 2Tm 1,6), and this union of hearts, the secret of which the Lord himself knows. Amen!
"Sir, we wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12,21).
1. This is what the people who had come to Jerusalem from various parts said to Philip, who was from Bethsaida. When people from the various parts of Italy arrived here, in this place, bordering on great Rome, where until some time ago there was only the country, they seemed to say the same thing: We want to see Christ in our midst! We want him to live with us; we want his house to rise here. We hardly know one another. We want him to make us acquainted with one another, to make us approach one another, so that we will no longer be strangers, but become a community...
This was how the people spoke who had come here from the different parts of Italy. This was how you yourselves spoke, dear parishioners of this young parish of San Bonaventura da Bagnoregio. And such or similar words are still current: they are still heard even now.
Your parish is a very young one. It was born here of your faith, on this ground which was still uncultivated until a short time ago. It was born here of your firm resolution to have Jesus live in your midst.
It was born of the initiative that you manifested before the ecclesiastical authorities, and also before the civil authorities. Thanks to that, this church, which already serves your Christian community, was erected. And the other instruments useful for parish life were set up.
I am well aware that, in spite of the many difficulties encountered, a great deal of work has already been carried out methodically and with abnegation, and that you intend to continue the fine work, developing it according to the lines of a gradual increase which will expand more and more every day, in order to reach all the needs of this parish family. The Pope follows you in this with his good will and his fatherly care: we wish to see Jesus!
2. With all the greater joy I come to you today as Bishop of Rome, this being my first canonical visit. I am happy to be able to carry it out, today on the fifth Sunday of Lent; but I am also pleased that the Cardinal Vicar of Rome is present and also the Auxiliary Bishop Monsignor Salimei, who will pay a more detailed pastoral visit to your parish this week. I greet all the parishioners cordially. I congratulate you on this good and courageous beginning. I greet your Pastors, the Franciscan Conventual Fathers, whom I have already had the opportunity to meet, obtaining from them information about the essential problems of the life of the parish. I wish to address a word of approval and encouragement to the many groups operating with zeal and dedication in the various sectors of the apostolate, wishing them more and more success and good results in their activity.
I also wish to manifest my deep gratitude and sincere good will to the Carmelite Fathers of the neighbouring Parish of St Mary Regina Mundi, who, in the midst of the serious difficulties that can be imagined, had the merit of beginning the pastoral care in this area which was becoming more and more populated.
3. And now allow me to refer again to the liturgical readings of this Sunday. The prophet Jeremiah speaks in the first reading of the covenant which God wishes to make, once more, with the house of Israel. Since the people of Israel had not kept the preceding covenant, God wishes to make another one, a stronger and more interior one. "I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jr 31,33).
65 Dear Brothers and Sisters! God has concluded with us the new and at the same time definitive covenant in Jesus Christ, who, as St Paul says today, "becomes the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (He 5,9).
This Covenant is based on the Son's perfect obedience to the Father. By virtue of this obedience, Christ "was heard" (He 5,7) and is always heard. He maintains uninterruptedly this union of man with God, which was established on his cross. The Church—as the Council states—"is a sacrament or sign and instrument of deep union with God and of the unity of the whole of mankind" (Lumen Gentium LG 1).
You who have formed here a living particle of the Church, that is, your Parish, have expressed in a particular way this covenant with God, in which you wish to persevere with the grace of Jesus Christ.
If some one were to ask you why you did so, you could answer in this way, as the Prophet says today: we wish that he should be our God and that we should be his People; we want his laws to be written on our hearts. You are looking for a support for these hearts of yours and for your consciences.
You are looking for a support for your families. You want them to be stable, not to break up; you want them to form those living hearths of love by which man can warm himself every day. Persevering in the sacramental marriage bond, you wish to hand down life to your children, and, together with life, human and Christian education. Each of you, dear parents, feels deeply this great responsibility which is bound to the dignity of the father and of the mother. You know that your own salvation, and the salvation of your children, depends on that. How am I playing the father's part? What kind of a mother am I? These are the questions that you ask yourselves more than once. You rejoice, and I with you, at all good that is manifested in you, in your families, in your children. I take pleasure with you in their progress at school, in the development of their young consciences. You want them to become really "men". And this, to a large extent, depends on what they acquire in their parents' house. No one can replace you in this work. Society, the nation, the Church, are constructed or the foundations laid by you.
I look at these children of yours, the youth of your parish. They are present in large numbers here. This parish is young, really young. How many hopes children and the young put in life! And how much hope we have in them!
Just for this reason, we must firmly base our whole life, and above all family life, on Jesus Christ. Because he, who "became the source of eternal salvation to all..." (He 5,9), indicates to us every day the ways of this salvation. With word and example he teaches us how we must live. He shows us what is the deep and ultimate meaning of human life.
And if man becomes sure of this meaning of life, then all problems, even ordinary everyday ones, are solved according to it. Life develops, then, at the same time, on the human and divine plane.
Today we hear the Lord Jesus announcing his death. This is already the fifth Sunday of Lent; we have drawn much nearer to Holy Week, to the Sacred Triduum which will again recall to us particularly his passion, death, and resurrection. Therefore the words with which the Lord announces his end, now near, speak of glory: "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified... Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say?... Father, glorify thy name." (Jn 12,23). And finally he utters the words which express so deeply the mystery of his redeeming death: "Now is the judgment of this world... And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (Jn 12,31-32). That lifting up of Christ from the earth is prior to his elevation in glory: lifting up on the wood of the cross, lifting up in martyrdom, lifting up in death.
Jesus announces his death also in these mysterious words: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (Jn 12,24). His death is the pledge of life, it is the source of life for us all. The eternal Father preordained this death in the order of grace and salvation, just as, in the order of nature, the death of the grain of wheat under the earth is established so that there may spring from it the ear bearing abundant fruit. Man is then nourished by this fruit, which becomes daily bread. Also the sacrifice which was accomplished in the death of Christ became food for our souls under the appearances of bread.
Let us prepare to live Holy Week, the Sacred Triduum, the Death and the Resurrection. Let us accept this life, the spring of which is his Sacrifice. Let us live this life nourishing ourselves with the food of the Body and the Blood of the Redeemer, let us grow in it to reach eternal life.
66 1. "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you!" (Lc 22,15).
These words of Christ's come into my mind today, as we meet together round the altar of St Peter's Basilica to take part in the celebration of the Eucharist. Right from the beginning, since I have been granted the privilege of standing at this altar, I have greatly desired to meet you, young people studying at the University and colleges of this city. I missed you, University students of the Pope's diocese. I had the desire, let me tell you, to feel you near. I have been accustomed to such meetings for years. In the period of Lent—and also of Advent—I often had the privilege of finding myself in the midst of University students in Krakow, on the occasion of the closing of the spiritual exercises which gathered thousands of participants. On this day I meet you. I greet cordially all of you here present. And in you and through you I greet all your fellow students, your Professors, researchers, your faculties, organizations, and those in charge of your circles. I greet the whole of "academic" Rome.
In this period in which, every year, Christ speaks to us again in the life of the Church with his "Passover", the need of being with him is revealed in human hearts, particularly in young hearts. The time of Lent, the Holy Week, the Sacred Triduum, are not just a memory of events that occurred nearly two thousand years ago, but constitute a special invitation to participation.
2. Passover means "passing over".
In the Old Testament it meant the exodus from the "house of slavery" of Egypt and the passing over the Red Sea, under the special protection of the Lord God, towards the "Promised Land". The wandering lasted for forty years. In the New Testament this historic Passover was accomplished in Christ during three days: from Thursday evening to the Sunday morning. And it means the passing through death to the resurrection, and at the same time the exodus from the slavery of sin towards participation in God's life by means of Grace. Christ says in today's Gospel: "If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." (Jn 8,51). These words indicate at the same time what the Gospel is. It is the book of eternal life, towards which go the innumerable ways of man's earthly pilgrimage. Each of us walks on one of those roads. The Gospel teaches about each of them. And the mystery of this sacred book consists just of this. The fact that it is read a great deal springs from this, and its relevance today comes from this. In the light of the Gospel our life acquires a new dimension. It acquires its definitive meaning. Therefore life itself is shown to be a passing over.
3. Human life a passing over.
This life is not one whole, enclosed definitively between the date of birth and the date of death. It is open to the last fulfilment in God. Each of us feels painfully the close of life, the limit set by death. Each of us is in some way conscious of the fact that man is not contained completely in these limits, and that he cannot die definitively. Too many questions not spoken and too many problems unsolved—if not in the dimension of personal, individual life at least in that of the life of human communities: families, nations, humanity—stop at the moment of the death of every man. In fact, none of us lives alone. Various circles pass through each man. Also St Thomas said: "Anima humana est quodammodo omnia" (Comm. in Arist. De Anima, III, 8, lect. 13). We bear in us the need of "universalization". At a given moment, death interrupts all this...
Who is Christ? He is the Son of God, who assumed human life in its temporal orientation towards death. He accepted the necessity of death. Before death overtook him, he was repeatedly threatened by it. The Gospel of today reminds us of one of these threats: "...they took up stones to throw at him" (Jn 8,59).
Christ is he who accepted the whole reality of human dying. And for that very reason he is the One who made a radical change in the way of understanding life. He showed that life is a passing over, not only to the limit of death, but to a new life. Thus the cross became for us the supreme Chair of the truth of God and of man. We must all be pupils—no matter what our age is—of this Chair. Then we will understand that the cross is also the cradle of the new man.
Those who are its pupils look at life in this way, perceive it in this way. And they teach it in this way to others. They imprint this meaning of life on the whole of temporal reality: on morality, creativity, culture, politics, economics. It has very often been affirmed—as, for example, the followers of Epicurus sustained in ancient times, and as some followers of Marx do in our times for other reasons—that this concept of life distracts man from temporal reality and that it cancels it in a certain sense. The truth is quite different. Only this conception of life gives full importance to all the problems of temporal reality. It opens the possibility of placing them fully in man's existence. And one thing is certain: this conception of life does not permit shutting man up in temporary things, it does not permit subordinating him completely to them. It decides his freedom.
4. Life is a test.
67 Giving human life this “paschal" meaning, that is, that it is a passing over, that it is a passing over to freedom, Jesus Christ taught with his word and even more with his own example that it is a test. The test corresponds to the importance of the forces accumulated in man. Man is created "for" the test, and called to it right from the beginning. It is necessary to think deeply of this call, meditating on the first chapters of the Bible, especially the first three. Man is described there not only as a being created "in the image of God" (Gn 1,26-27), but at the same time he is described as a being who undergoes a test. And this is—if we analyse the text properly—the test of thought, of the "heart" and of the will, time test of truth and love. In this sense, it is at the same time the test of the Covenant with God. When this first Covenant was broken, God made another one. Today's readings recall the Covenant with Abraham, which was a way of preparation for the coming of Christ.
Christ confirms this meaning of life: it is man's great test. And for this very reason it has a meaning for man. It has not a meaning, on the contrary, if we believe that in life man must only take advantage, use, "take", and even struggle implacably for the right to take advantage, use, "take"...
Life has its meaning when it is considered and lived as a test of an ethical character. Christ confirms this meaning, and at the same time defines the adequate dimension of this test that human life is. Let us re-read carefully, for example, the Sermon on the Mount, and also chapter 25 of Matthew's Gospel the image of the judgment. This alone is enough to renew in us the fundamental Christian consciousness of the meaning of life.
The concept of "test" is closely connected with the concept of responsibility. Both are addressed to our will, to our acts. Accept, dear friends, both these concepts—or rather both realities—as elements of the construction of one's own humanity. This humanity of yours is already mature and, at the same time, is still young. It is in the phase of the definitive formation of one's life project. This formation takes place particularly in the "academic" years, in the time of higher studies. Perhaps that personal life project is suspended at present over many unknown factors. Perhaps you still lack a precise vision of your place in society, of the work for which you are preparing through your studies. This is certainly a great difficulty; but difficulties of the kind must not paralyse your initiatives. They must not give rise only to aggression. Aggression itself will not solve anything. It will not change life for the better. Aggression can only make it "bad in another way".
I hear you denounce, in your language which is so frank, the senility of ideologies and the ideal inadequacy of the "social machine". Well, to promote man's true dignity—also intellectual dignity—and not let yourselves, in your turn, be trapped in various forms of sectarianism, do not forget that it is indispensable to acquire a deep formation based on the teaching that Christ left us in his words and in the example of his own life. Try to accept the difficulties you must face precisely as a part of that test which is the life of every man. It is necessary to undertake this test with all responsibility. It is at the same time a personal responsibility—for my life, for its future pattern, for its value—and also a social responsibility, for justice and peace, for the moral order of one's own native environment and of the whole of society. It is a responsibility for the real common good. A man who has such an awareness of the meaning of life does not destroy, but constructs the future. Christ teaches us this.
5. And he also teaches us that human life has the meaning of a testimony to truth and to love. Not long ago, I had the opportunity to express myself on this subject, speaking to University students of Mexico and of the many nations of Latin America. I take the liberty of quoting some thoughts of that address, which is, perhaps, of interest to European and Roman students too. Today there exists a worldwide involvement of commitments, fears and at the same time, hopes, ways of thinking and evaluating, which troubles your young world. On that occasion I pointed out, among other things, that it is necessary to promote an "integral culture, which will aim at the complete development of the human person, in which there will stand out the values of intelligence, will, conscience, and brotherhood, which are all based on God the Creator and which have been marvellously exalted in Christ (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 61)". To scientific formation, that is, it is necessary to add a deep moral and Christian formation, that will be deeply lived and will bring about a more and more harmonious synthesis between faith and reason, between faith and culture, between faith and life. To unite dedication to precise scientific research and the testimony of a true Christian life, that is the stirring commitment of every University student (cf. John Paul II, Address to Catholic University Students in Mexico, [31 January 1979]; AAS LXXI, 1979, PP 236-237). And I repeat to you too what I wrote in February to the students of Latin-American schools: "Studies must comprise not only a given quantity of knowledge acquired in the course of specialization but also a special spiritual maturity which presents itself as responsibility for truth: for truth in thought and in action" (AAS LXXI, 1979, p. 253).
Let these few quotations suffice.
A great tension exists in the modern world. All things considered, this is a tension over the sense of human life, the meaning we can and must give to this life if it is to be worthy of man, if it is to be such that it is worth living.There also exist clear symptoms of moving away from these dimensions; in fact, materialism in different forms, inherited from the last centuries, is capable of coercing this meaning of life. But materialism does not at all form the deepest roots of European or world culture. It is not at all a correlative or a full expression of epistemological or ethical realism.
Christ—allow me to put it in this way—is the greatest realist in the history of man. Reflect a little on this formulation. Meditate on what it can signify.
It is precisely by virtue of this realism that Christ bears witness to the Father, and bears witness to man. He himself, in fact, knows "what is in man" (Jn 2,25). He knows! I repeat it without wishing to offend any of those who have tried at any time or are trying today to understand what man is, and wish to teach it.
And precisely on the basis of this realism, Christ teaches that human life has a meaning insofar as it is a testimony of truth and love.
68 Think this over, you who as students must be particularly sensitive to truth and to testimony of truth. You are, so to speak, the professionals of intelligence, since you are engaged in the study of humanistic and scientific disciplines, in view of preparation for the office that is waiting for you in society.
Think it over, you who having young hearts feel how much need of love is born in them. You who are looking for a form of expression for this love in your lives. There are some who find this expression in exclusive dedication of themselves to God. The vast majority are those who find the expression of this love in marriage, in family life. Prepare for that thoroughly. Remember that love as a noble sentiment is a gift of the heart; but at the same time it is a great task that must be assumed in favour of the other one, in favour of her, in favour of him. Christ is waiting for such a love of yours. He wishes to be with you when it is formed in your hearts, and when it matures in the sacramental oath. And afterwards, and always.
6. Christ says "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you!" (Lk 2:l5). When he ate it for the first time with the disciples he spoke words that are particularly cordial and particularly binding: "No longer do I call you servants... but I have called you friends..." (Jn 15,15); "This is my commandment, that you love one another." (Jn 15,12). Remember these words of Christ's farewell speech, from the Gospel of John, now, in the period of the Lord's Passion. Think about them again.
Purify your hearts in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Those who accuse the call, of the Church to repentance as coming from a "repressive" mentality, are lying. Sacramental Confession is not a repression but a liberation; it does not restore feelings of guilt, but cancels the guilt, dissolves the evil done, and bestows the grace of forgiveness. The causes of evil are not to be sought outside man, but first and foremost inside his heart; and the remedy starts also from the heart. Then Christians, through the sincerity of their commitment of conversion, must rebel against the levelling down of man and proclaim with their own lives the joy of true liberation from sin by means of Christ's forgiveness. The Church does not have a project of her own ready for the University, for society, but she has a project of man, of the new man, born again from Grace. Find the interior truth of your consciences again. May the Holy Spirit grant you the grace of a sincere repentance, of a firm purpose of amendment, and of a sincere confession of sins.
May he grant you deep spiritual joy.
"The Day which the Lord has made" (Ps 117/118:24) is approaching.
Be prepared for this Day!
S. John Paul II Homil. 60