S. John Paul II Homil. 313
314 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. There is one centre around which the human family can be united Jesus Christ. That is the will and plan of God. Jesus said: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12,32). He died “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (Ibid. 11, 52). His Church is “the sacrament or instrument and sign of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race” (Lumen Gentium LG 1). She is truly the beginning of the incorporation of all humanity into Jesus Christ as the one Lord. “In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his Cross” (Col 1,19-20).
Divisions among Christians are contrary to the plan of God. “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Tm 2,5), in whom God wishes to reconcile all things to himself. Those who are the bearers of his mission must themselves be reconciled; they must show forth his unifying love in action; they must live in that communion which is towards the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit, and they must manifest this in a united community which witnesses to the reconciling work of God.
The Second Vatican Council threw new light on this imperative and the present Synod has reaffirmed it. So it was important that in these days, in company with our friends the delegated Observers from the other Churches and Christian World Communions, we should spend some time in prayer for the unity of Christians.
2. The restoration of unity must be above all a restoration of the inner dimension of the Christian life - a wholehearted personal commitment to Jesus Christ which makes intolerable any separation among those who share that commitment. Any faltering in the movement towards unity since the impetus of the Second Vatican Council is partly due to the fact that we have not attended enough to this interior dimension. We must not take it for granted. The most basic form of work for the unity of Christians is sustained and persevering prayer, which itself calls forth collaboration and dialogue. It is because individuals and communities in the Catholic Church gave themselves to such prayer that the Church was able in the Second Vatican Council to assume with special vigour her ecumenical responsibility. A change of heart, interior conversion, renewal of the Church - which were among the central objectives of the Council (Cfr. Unitatis Redintegratio UR 6-7) - are essential to the ecumenical movement and its growth.
3. As we gather here this afternoon, let us ask the Lord who ended all enmities by his Cross and who broke down all walls of separation to look with compassion on the agonies of our world. By the power of his Holy Spirit, may he make us instruments of his peace and reconciliation. Let us pray that God will touch the Catholic Church with the power of his renewing grace on the occasion of the Synod, and that he may equally renew and encourage in the search for unity those Churches and Christian World Communions represented here by their Observers, and all other Christian communities. Let us thank him for what he has done for them as well as for the Catholic Church through the Second Vatican Council. Together we ask that for all of us this Synod may be a point of revival of the will for unity, a deepening of our purpose to go ahead, a resolution to continue in theological dialogue, in greater efforts of collaboration and common witness and in unfailing prayer.
May he who has begun this good work in us “bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Ph 1,6).
Saturday, 1 February 1986
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. This afternoon, Jesus Christ repeats to us the words of the Gospel: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” .
315 At the beginning of my pilgrimage to the shrine which is the People of God living in this vast land of India, I wish to recall these words of Jesus Christ from today’s Liturgy. These words speak of our pilgrimage through faith. Through faith we journey towards God along this path which is Christ.
He is the Son of God and he is of the same substance as the Father. God from God and Light from Light, he became Man, in order to be for us the path to the Father. He unceasingly spoke to the Father during his earthly life. To him, to the Father, he directed the thoughts and hearts of his listeners. In a certain sense he shared with them the Fatherhood of God, and this was shown in a special way in the prayer that he taught his disciples: the Our Father.
At the end of his Messianic mission on earth, on the day before his Passion and death he says to the Apostles: “In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”.
If the Gospel is the revelation of the truth that human life is a pilgrimage towards the Father’s house, then it is at one and the same time a call to the faith through which we travel as pilgrims: a call to pilgrim faith. Christ says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”.
2. Yes, human life on earth is a pilgrimage. We are all conscious of passing through the world. Man’s life begins and ends, starts at birth and goes on to the moment of death. Man is a being who is transitory. And in this pilgrimage of life, religion assists man to live in such a way as to reach his goal. Man is constantly confronted with the transitory nature of a life which he knows is extremely important as a preparation for everlasting life. Man’s pilgrim faith orients him to God and directs him to make those choices which will assist him to reach eternal life. Hence every moment of man’s earthly pilgrimage is important – important in its challenges and choices.
Closely touching man in his pilgrimage is the reality of human culture. The Second Vatican Council has insisted that “there are many links between the message of salvation and human culture. For God, revealing himself to his people to the extent of a full manifestation of himself in his Incarnate Son, has spoken according to the culture proper to different ages” . And again: “Christians, on pilgrimage towards the heavenly city, should seek and savour the things which are above. This duty in no way decreases, but rather increases, the weight of their obligation to work with all men in constructing a more human world” .
The Church proclaims that man in his pilgrim life is all the more worthy of respect and love and care in the many circumstances of earthly living precisely because he is destined to live for ever. And all true human culture, taking into account the dignity of man and his final destiny, is an aid to man in his noble and righteous living, in this land of pilgrimage. Saint Paul himself presents to the Christian community this invitation: “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence? if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”.
3. As man on this earth passes from birth to death he is aware of being a pilgrim of the Absolute. Here in India this consciousness is very deep. Your ancient sages have expressed the anguished cry of the soul for the Absolute. There is indeed an age-old yearning for the infinite, a constant awareness of the divine presence and endless manifestations of religious feelings through popular feasts and festivals.
And in the very quest for the Absolute there is already an experience of the divine. Among all those who down the centuries have searched for God, we remember the famous Augustine of Hippo who, finding him, exclaimed: “Where, therefore, did I find you, in order to know you, if not in you, above me?” . In India this quest for God and this experience of him have been accompanied by great simplicity, asceticism and renunciation. All of this renders great honour to India as a religious natal generously committed to her spiritual pilgrimage.
4. In the Revelation of the Old and New Covenants, man living in the visible world, in the midst of temporal things, is at the same time profoundly aware of the presence of God, who penetrates his whole life. This living God is in fact the ultimate and definitive bulwark for man amidst all the trials and sufferings of earthly existence. He longs to possess this God definitively even as he experiences his presence. He strives to attain to the vision of his face. In the words of the Psalmist: “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life; when can I enter and see the face of God?”
5. As man strives to know God, to perceive his face and experience his presence, God turns towards man to reveal his own life. The Second Vatican Council dwells at length on the importance of God’s intervention in the world. It explains that “through divine revelation, God chose to show forth and communicate himself and the eternal decisions of his will regarding the salvation of men”.
316 At the same time the merciful and loving God who communicates himself through revelation still remains for man an inscrutable mystery. And man, the pilgrim of the Absolute, continues throughout his life to seek the face of God. But at the end of the pilgrimage of faith, man comes to the “Father’s house” and being in this “house” means seeing God “face to face”.
6. This seeing God “face to face” is the deepest desire of the human spirit. How eloquent in this context are the words of the Apostle Philip in today’s Gospel, when he says to Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father and we shall be satisfied”.
Those words are indeed eloquent because they bear witness to the deepest thirst and desire of the human spirit, but more eloquent still is the answer that Jesus gives.
Jesus explains: “He who has seen me has seen the Father”. Jesus is the revelation of the Father; he explains to the world what the Father is like, not because he is the Father, but because he is one with the Father in the communion of divine life. In the words of Jesus: “I am in the Father and the Father in me”. Man no longer has to search all alone for God. In partnership with Christ, man discovers God and he discovers him in Christ.
7. In the Son, in Jesus Christ, God’s self-revelation reaches its fullness and zenith. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews stressed this point when he wrote: “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 his Son”. Therefore Christ is forever the way.
He is the way because he is the truth. He gives the ultimate answer to the question “Who is God?” The Apostle John testifies: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known”. Through his Incarnation, Jesus Christ, as Son of God, makes known the love and kindness and mercy of the eternal God. And he does this as the Son of Mary, God made man, in a way that humanity can understand.
We “reach” God through the truth. Through the truth about God and through the truth about everything that is outside God: about creation, the macrocosm, and about man, the microcosm. We “reach” God through the truth that Christ proclaims, through the truth that Christ actually is! We reach God in Christ who continues to repeat: “I am the truth”.
And this “reaching” God, through the truth which is Christ, is the source of life. It is the source of the eternal life which begins here on earth in the “darkness of faith”, to reach its fullness in the vision of God “face to face” – through the light of glory, as he actually is.
Christ brings this life, for he is the life – just as he says: “I am the life”. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”.
8. “Why are you cast down, my soul?... Hope in God” . “Behold, we are now coming to the altar of God, to the God of our joy” .
We come here in order to celebrate the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the most holy Sacrament of our pilgrimage through faith. It is the nourishment for our journey. It is the banquet of life.
317 In it we are united with Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We make him present under the appearances of bread and wine in his Death and Resurrection. Our pilgrimage through faith has in the Eucharist its fullest and most expressive sign. And at the same time we unite ourselves with one another in fraternal community. We unite ourselves with the whole Church. We unite ourselves with all humanity and with the angels. We give back to God the whole of creation. Together with everyone we sing “Holy, holy, holy”!
And behold from the very heart of this Liturgy, from the heart of the Eucharist, we proclaim to all:
Rejoice! Rejoice with us! The Lord is near! Amen.
Indira Gandhi Stadium in Delhi
Sunday, 2 February 1986
“O gates, lift high your heads; / grow higher, ancient doors. / Let him enter, the King of glory!”.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. These words of the Psalm of today’s liturgy are addressed to the ancient temple in Jerusalem. The doors of the temple must be opened wide for the King of glory to enter. In the feast that we are celebrating, the Presentation of the Lord, we commemorate the first time that the King of glory entered his temple in Jerusalem as the Incarnate Word.
Today we are gathered together in the capital of India, at the foot, as it were, of the highest mountains of the world. And on this occasion we address the Psalmist’s invocation to another temple of God, to the temple that is the whole world, visible and invisible. God is present in this world, yet he wishes to draw nearer still. So let the peaks of the Himalaya mountains, “the roof of the world”, be lifted up at the Lord’s coming. At the same time, may the doors of the very ancient cultures whose cradle is this land open before the Lord.
God is present in the very heart of human cultures because he is present in man – in man who is created in his image and who is the architect of culture. God is present in the cultures of India. He has been present in all the people who have contributed by their experiences and aspirations to the formulation of those values, customs, institutions and arts which comprise the cultural heritage of this ancient land.
And the King of glory wishes to enter into these cultures ever more completely; he wishes to enter every human heart that will open itself to him:
318 “O gates, lift high your heads; / grow higher, ancient doors. / Let him enter, the King of glory!”.
2. Yes, on this feast of the Presentation God enters into his temple as “the King of glory”. But “who is the King of glory?” . Today’s feast reveals to us the answer.
Let us look at Mary and Joseph carrying to the temple in Jerusalem a baby. It is the fortieth day after his birth. And they are presenting him in the temple to fulfil a precept of the law. But much more than the law is being fulfilled by their obedience. The prophecies of old are all being, fulfilled. For Mary and Joseph are bringing to the temple the “light of all the nations”.
God enters the temple not as a powerful ruler but as a little child in his Mother’s arms. The King of glory comes not with a show of human force and power, not with a great fanfare and noise, not causing fright and destruction. He comes into the temple as he came into the world, as an infant in silence, in poverty, and in the company of the poor and the wise.
God comes as a little child – God the Creator of all, the all powerful Lord of heaven and earth, the King of glory. The first entrance of God into the temple of his people is wrapped in the mistery of littleness, his power hidden in simplicity and helplessness. His coming is completely shrouded in mystery.
3. Unexpectedly, from the very centre of the mystery, a voice is heard. The aged Simeon speaks, for the Gospel tells us: “The Holy Spirit was upon him” . Simeon therefore speaks as a prophet. What he utters is astonishing. He breaks forth in praise of God, saying: “Lord, now... my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel”.
These are surprising words to be said about an infant. Yet Simeon’s prophecy is true And the words of the Psalm are fulfilled. He who has entered into the temple in Jerusalem, as an infant, will become the light and the salvation of the whole world. In this way, bringing light and salvation he comes as the King of glory.
4. But how will this King establish his “Kingdom of glory” on earth? In what way would Jesus who was born in Bethlehem become the light and salvation of the world? Simeon answers the question when he speaks about “a sign of contradiction”. These words reveal the whole Messianic path of Christ from his birth until his death on the Cross.
Though Jesus is the light for revelation to all the nations, yet he is destined in his own time, and in every age, to be a sign that is spoken against, a sign that is opposed, a sign of contradiction. This had been true of the Prophets of Israel before him. It was true of John the Baptist and it would be true of the lives of those who would follow him.
He performed great signs and miracles – healing the sick, multiplying the loaves of bread and the fishes, calming storms, raising the deads to life. Crowds flocked to him from everywhere, and they listened to him attentively, for he spoke with authority. Yet he encountered bitter opposition from those who refused to open their hearts and minds to him. Ultimately the most tangible expression of this contradiction is found in his suffering and death on the Cross. The prophecy of Simeon proved true. It was true of the life of Jesus and it is true of the life of his followers, in every land and in every age.
5. Thus the Cross becomes the light; the Cross becomes salvation. Is this not the Good News for the poor and for all who know the bitter taste of suffering? Here in India, and in many other places in the world, there are millions of poor people, and they share in the Cross of Christ because Christ on the Cross has taken to himself all the crosses of the world. There is the cross of hunger by which countless men, women and children are deprived of their “daily bread”, and parents’ hearts are filled with anguish as they see their children undernourished or even dying in infancy. So many others live in poverty and suffering, where they are victims of disease and where they are powerless and subject to despair.
319 Yet the cross of poverty, the cross of hunger, and the cross of every other suffering, can be transformed, for the Cross of Christ has become a light in our world. It is a light of hope and salvation. It gives meaning to all human suffering. It brings with it the promise of everlasting life freed from pain and sin. The Cross was followed by the Resurrection. Death was conquered by life. And all who are joined with the crucified and risen Lord can expect to share in this same victory.
The Cross of Christ won freedom for us from the slavery of sin and death. This freedom, this liberation, is so fundamental and all embracing that it calls for freedom from all the other forms of slavery which are linked to the introduction of sin into the world. This liberation calls for a struggle against poverty. And it requires all who belong to Christ to engage in persevering efforts to relieve the sufferings of the poor. That is why the Church’s mission of evangelization includes energetic and sustained action for justice, peace and integral human development. Not to assume these tasks would be to betray the work of evangelization; it would be infidelity to the example of Jesus who came “to preach good news to the poor”; it would be in effect a rejection of the consequences of the Incarnation, in which “the Word became flesh”.
6. The Church in India has for many years been making important contributions to the development of this country and to the alleviation of the problems of the poor. The work of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and many others bears eloquent testimony to this commitment, as do the impressive records of achievement of the many Catholic institutions of education, health and service.
At the same time, Christians here and abroad have applauded the efforts made by many others in India to relieve the burdens of misery and to overcome attitudes and structures which have kept millions enslaved in poverty. There is the monumental contribution of Mahatma Gandhi, who helped break down social barriers and divisions and made possible a new era of unity and advancement. “We are all equal. It is the touch of sin that pollutes us and never that of a human being. None are high and none are low for one who would devote his life to service” . He stands as a symbol of the highest qualities and values of the Indian people, and is admired in every country of the world. Rabindranath Tagore, too, helped shape the spirit of modern India. While appreciating the importance of technology and material progress, he helped you to prize the primacy of spiritual values.
7. Many others could be mentioned as well, people who have played an important role in the uplifting of the poor, people who are dear to your own hearts and who in many cases are deeply respected and admired throughout the world.
The noble efforts of these great men and women of India, efforts aimed at fostering social liberation and integral human development are in accord with the spirit of the Gospel. All who have advanced the dignity and freedom of their brothers and sisters are blessed in the eyes of Christ, the King of glory. By their efforts, such people help to bring about a civilisation of love, where the rich willingly share with the poor, where the poor can be free from hunger and want, and where everyone comes to realise that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” .
8. But such a civilisation does not yet fully exist, and numerous obstacles block its total realisation. On this Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord, when we contemplate the coming of the Lord to his temple, we must heed the words of the Prophet Malachi, proclaimed in the first reading of today’s liturgy: “The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple... But who can endure the day of his coming?... for he is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver”.
So many problems of social life in India and throughout the world need refinement and purification. Individuals and groups need healing and reconciliation. Ignorance and prejudice must be replaced by tolerance and understanding. Indifference and class struggle must be turned into brotherhood and committed service. Discrimination based on race, colour, creed, sex or ethnic origin must be rejected as totally incompatible with human dignity. Yes, the Lord will come to purify our minds and hearts, to refine our motives. Let us welcome him gladly and accept his grace of repentance.
9. Venerable brothers and dear brothers and sisters: brother bishops, priests, religious and lay men and women from the Archdioceses of Delhi and Agra, from the Dioceses of Ajmer and Jaipur, Allahabad, Bijnor, Gorakhpur, Jhansi, Jullundur, Lucknow, Meerut, Simla and Chandigarh, Udaipur and Varanasi, from the Prefecture Apostolic of Jammu and Kashmir and from the Kingdom of Nepal: today, on the Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord the peaks of the tallest mountains of the world lift high. The doors of the most ancient cultures of our earth are opened. Welcome him whom Mary and Joseph bring to us in the mystery of today’s liturgy.
He is “sign of contradiction”.
But he is also the “light of revelation to the Gentiles”.
320 He is the “light of the world”:
– by his birth in poverty on that night in Bethlehem,
– by the Gospel of the Eight Beatitudes,
– by his Cross and the Resurrection.
Truly he has been made like us, his brothers and sisters. He has been made like the sons and daughters of this ancient land. “For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted”. He is able to help all of us. He takes care of all, just as he takes care of the offspring of Abraham. He takes care of us finally through the heart of his Mother, Mary. At the foot of the Cross, his Mother’s heart was “pierced through... that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” .
Jesus Christ is the light that reveals the thoughts of our hearts.
Jesus Christ is the truth that liberates.
Let us welcome him.
Let us welcome him with faith and with love. Amen.
Monday, 3 February 1986
321 1. "Before the mountains were born / or the earth or the world brought fort, / you are God, without beginning or end" .
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Together with all of you, I wish to adore God the Creator: God the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth. I wish to adore him on India soil. I wish to adore him here in this vast country which stretches from the towering Himalayas in the North to the Malabar and Coromandel coasts in the South. I wish to adore the Creator here in Ranchi, with all of you from Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and from the Kingdom of Nepal. In a particular way, I join in praise and worship with the millions and millions of workers in India: with every man and woman who works in the fields, in the mines, in the factories, in the workshops, in the offices, in the homes, in the remote villages as well as in the urban centres. At this Eucharist in Ranchi, we join our voices and hearts to adore our God who is without beginning or end.
2. The Psalmist proclaims the eternity of God when he sings: "To your eyes a thousand years are like yesterday, come and gone, no more than a watch in the night" .
God is eternal, he is eternity itself. Yet he does not remain separated from us or inaccessible to us. He is the Creator of the world: from him everything has taken its beginning. He is the Creator of man. And to us human beings who are mortal and subject to decay in our bodies, God speaks in these words: "Go back, sons of men" . And yet God invites every person whom he has created in his own image and likeness to become a sharer in his life, his wisdom and his eternity.
Hence each man and woman is a pilgrim on this earth – -a pilgrim of the Absolute, a pilgrim in search of the Absolut! And each one is called. We are all pilgrims, members of the People of God whom the Creator and Father leads towards his own holiness. He leads us to himself through the experiences and the trials of the present life.
3. In order to teach us the way of living that leads to union with God, the Father has given us his Son. He has made him the cornerstone, so that we may grow towards salvation . For in him, in Jesus Christ, we too become living stones "built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God" .
These spiritual sacrifices are linked with everything that makes up our life. In a particular way they are linked with human work, for work is a basic dimension of human life on earth.
4. Today I would like to reflect with you on the value and dignity of human work. Jesus Christ was a carpenter’s son. He worked for the greater part of his life on earth in the same trade as his foster father, Joseph. By working, Jesus proclaimed in the ordinary activities of his daily life the dignity of work. All human work is a participation in the activity of the Creator himself. Whether we work in a factory, an office or a hospital, or in the fields, or as a rickshaw driver or as a mother at home – whatever work we do – we all share in the creative activity of God. This gives all work its meaning and worth. "The basis for determining the value of human work is not primarily the kind of work being done but the fact that the one who is doing it is a person" . It follows from this that all human work, however humble it may appear, must be fully respected, protected and justly remunerated, so that families and indeed the whole community may live in peace, prosperity and progress.
5. Work brings joy and fulfilment, but it also entails toil and fatigue. The fulfilment and joy spring from the fact that human work enables men and women to exercise that mastery over the earth which God has entrusted to them . For God said to the first man and woman: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth" .
The work we do, however, may not be the type of work we would prefer, or it may be hazardous, such as work deep down in the mines. The work may be hard, monotonous condition. It is written in the Bible that because of disobedience man will earn his bread by the sweat of his brow and that the land upon which he labours will not easily yield its fruits . Yet for a worker who places his trust in God, the toil and fatigue of work is accompanied by the joy of knowing that he or she is collaborating with the Creator.
322 6. For those of us who are Christians, Jesus is the perfect model and inspiration for our work. In his work, Jesus remained in deep communion with his heavenly Father. We should therefore consider carefully how Jesus faithfully performed his daily work during the many years of his life in Nazareth. This is a powerful example for all of us. The witness of Jesus in his work as a carpenter fills us with joy and encourages us to persevere in our humble service to humanity.
Furthermore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we must never forget the reason why Jesus came into the world. Jesus came to accomplish the work of salvation. And how did he accomplish the work of salvation? Through his suffering and death on the Cross and by the victory of his glorious Resurrection. All human work, no matter how insignificant it may seem, shares in this work of salvation. As I stated in my Encyclical on Human Work: "By enduring the toil of work in union with Christ Crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity. He shows himself a true disciple of Christ by carrying the Cross in his turn every day in the activity that he is called upon to perform" .
7. The Church, seeking to be faithful to the example and witness of Christ, has a very special concern for the welfare of workers. The well-known Encyclicals of the Popes starting with Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII have continually defended the right of the worker to a just wage and to proper working conditions. The Church’s teaching is founded on the principle that every human person is created in the image of God and has a unique God-given dignity. Thus no one should be used as a mere instrument for production, as though the person were a machine or a beast of burden. The Church rejects any social or economic system that leads to the depersonalisation of workers. Over and above her concern for proper working conditions, the Church insists on a just wage for workers, a wage that takes into account the needs of their family. "Just remuneration for the work of an adult who is responsible for a family means remuneration which will suffice for establishing and properly maintaining a family and for providing security for its future" .
My heart goes out in a special way to the many unemployed who want to work but are unable to find suitable employment, at times because of discrimination based on religion, caste, community or language. Unemployment and underemployment give rise to frustration and a feeling of uselessness, and cause disharmony in the family; they bring anguish and untold hardships and weaken the very fabric and structure of society. They threaten the dignity of every man and woman. There is an urgent need to take fresh initiatives to solve this grave problem, and these initiatives often require collaboration on the national and international level. And it is crucially important that the negotiations and plans to overcome unemployment be marked by respect and dialogue between the employers and those seeking work.
8. At this Mass today, I am pleased to wear liturgical vestments which have a particular symbolic meaning for the Catholic people of this part of India. The designs on the chasuble symbolise your belief in the abundant blessings that God the Creator pours out on his people, and they show your faith in the power of God to overcome all evil.
The chasuble and stole are signs of the priesthood: signs of the priestly vocation, character and ministry. Through his ministry of God’s word and the sacraments, in particular the Eucharist, the priest reminds all the baptised of everything which the first reading of this Mass so splendidly expresses: " You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people" .
And since you are God’s chosen ones, you must proclaim the wonderful works of God. You must proclaim the wonderful works of God the Creator through everything that is the result and fruit of human work. Precisely for this reason we bring to the altar the fruits of human work and we offer them in sacrifice.
9. God has "called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" .
Yes, he has called us all in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the light. Indeed, he is "the way, and the truth, and the life" . And so he can lead us to the Father, to this God who is light and truth and holiness itself. Jesus calls us and invites us to share in his own divine life – through everything which makes up our earthly existence, through all the toil of our human work.
Accepting the light which is in Christ, we too must become "the light of the world" . We have to become "the salt of the earth" . which gives taste to human life.
As followers of Christ, you are called to be the light of Christ here in India and with Christ to transform the world. Let your work serve the good of your neighbour. Share with the underprivileged, the sick and the handicapped. Strive to remove everything that oppresses people, and working together do all you can to solve the unemployment situation. Wherever you are, seek to radiate the presence of Christ: in your families, before your children, in your place of work, through the joyful practice of the virtues you have found in Jesus.
323 In this great nation, against the background of the ancient heritage of India, I ask you, dear brothers and sisters, to accept these words that Christ speaks to you today, just as he once spoke them to his first listeners and disciples: " Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" .
Sons and daughters of the great Indian motherland, accept these words! You are the Church of the Living God in this most ancient land, through which have passed so many generations languages and civilisations. Accept these words!
They are the words of Jesus Christ. It is the Redeemer, of the world who speaks, who tells you: "You are the light of the world”! "You are the salt of the earth"! And he is the "cornerstone" of our salvation; he is the cornerstone of our life in God! Amen.
S. John Paul II Homil. 313