S. John Paul II Homil. 505
Stortorget, Tromsø (Norway)
Friday, 2 June 1989
506 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Text in Norwegian
[Det er en glede for meg a kunne besöke dere her i Tromsø. Det er förste gang jeg besöker et land nord for polarcirkelen. Jeg vet at dere har mörketid i tva maneder av aret. Men nu er det de lyse netters tid. Solen gar ikke ned!
Jeg forstar hvor meget dere ma elske lyset!
Jesus Kristus har sagt: "Jeg er verdens lys". Han er lyset som alltid skinner, Han er lyser som alltid varmer! Han er selve lyset som bringer oss Kjärlighet, Glede, Hap och Fred.
Jeg hilser dere alle og ber om velsignelse over dere og landet her i nord.]
2. As we come together this evening in prayer, we must ask ourselves what it means to pray. The beautiful Psalms that we have just sung teach us the basis of all prayer; they remind us that we are creatures who have a relationship with the God who made us:
“In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his. To him belongs the sea, for he made it. and the dry land shaped by his hands... let us kneel before the God who made us” (Ps 95,4-6).
The Psalms also speak of our need for deliverance, or, to be more exact, they celebrate with thanks giving the mighty deeds of deliverance that God has accomplished for his people:
“He remembered us in our distress, for his love endures for ever. And he snatched us away from our foes... He gives food to all living things, for his love endures for ever” (Ps 136,23-25).
507 Dear brothers and sisters: in the Psalms we see how God’s chosen people were filled with praise and thanks for the gift of creation and for their deliverance from earthly enemies. How much greater then is our need to pray to Almighty God, who frees us from sin and death through his Son’s Cross and Resurrection, and who makes us into a new creation through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thus we are led to the Gospel. Like the very first disciples, we come to Christ eager to learn how to pray (Cfr. Luc Lc 11,1). By teaching us the “Our Father” Christ establishes the pattern for all prayer. He explains our relationship with God and with one another: God is our Creator. He is our Redeemer. With him as our common Father we are brothers and sisters to one another.
3. And so we say: “Our Father who art in heaven” (Mt 6,9).
When Jesus prays he uses the Aramaic word “Abba” (Cfr. Marc. 14, 36), which is what small children would have called their fathers. Only Christ, the Eternal Son who is one in being with the Father, has the right to address with such familiarity, with such intimacy, the one whose throne is in the heavens. But we too have been given this privilege by our adoption as children of God in Baptism (Cfr. Rom Rm 8,15 Ga 4,6). We have become sons and daughters “in the Son” Jesus Christ.
This unimagined and undeserved gift of communion with God transforms every human relationship. We pray not to “my” father or to “your” father, bur to “our Father”. Even when we “shut the door and pray... in secret” (Mt 6,6), we are spiritually united with all our brothers and sisters in Christ and with every human person created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Prayer delivers us from selfishness, from isolation and loneliness. It opens us up to the mystery of communion with God and with others.
4. “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Ibid.6, 9-10).
In the modern world, scientific and technological developments have dispelled many of our fears, relieved so many of the burdens of our existence, and opened up new possibilities for human self-realization. But these developments can also lead to a great temptation like the one “in the beginning” in the Book of Genesis: the temptation to decide for ourselves what is good and evil without reference to the God who made us, the vain attempt to place ourselves and our wills, rather than God and his law, at the centre of the universe. But if we reject or ignore God “who is love”, we reject love itself.
The first concern of the “Lord’s Prayer” is that God’s name should be glorified, that his Kingdom should come, that his will should be done. If that is our priority, then all else will be given us besides. Progress in science, economics, social organization and culture will not rob us of our humanity, but will reflect the love that alone gives life, meaning and joy to our human efforts. It is God who “gives us our daily bread” (Ibid. 6, 11), even as we remember that it is not by bread alone that we live, “but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Ibid. 4, 4).
5. "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt 6,12)
Christ’s teaching is simple but sobering. He says, “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Ibid.6, 14-15).
Dear brothers and sisters: is this not perhaps the most difficult petition of the “Lord’s Prayer”, precisely because what is asked of us is so clear and uncompromising? In praying these words we profess our trust in God’s mercy, but we also commit ourselves to a life of forgiveness. So often we impose conditions on our forgiveness, or refuse to seek reconciliation if we have been wronged. Yet if God were to treat us like this, who could be saved? With good reason we deplore the hatred, revenge and hardness of heart that afflict society in so many parts of the world, but the “Lord’s Prayer” challenges us to change the world by first being converted in our own hearts. Christ’s way of forgiveness demands that we should love even our enemies and pray for our persecutors (Cfr. Ibid. 5, 44). Only then can we truly pray as Jesus taught us.
508 6. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Ibid. 6, 13).
This final petition in the “Our Father” helps us to understand divine Providence in the light of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. It warns us of the existence of evil and calls to mind Christ’s words: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Ibid.10, 28).
This does not mean that God is deaf to our prayers for deliverance from physical danger and evil, or that he is indifferent to the suffering and death caused by natural calamities, disease, famine and war. It is only natural that we should turn to our heavenly Father for protection from these evils which entered the world because of original sin. But at the same time we must have confidence in Christ’s victory over suffering and death. When, despite our prayers and human efforts, we still suffer evil in this passing world, we must have faith that it can be overcome through the redeeming power of love. The greatest evil that can ultimately befall us is to be separated from God because of sin. That, above all, is what we mean when we pray that we may not be led into temptation but delivered from evil.
7. Dear brothers and sisters: what does it mean to pray? It means to lift up our minds and hearts to God in praise and thanksgiving, and to live according to the truth about God, about ourselves and about the world. It means to worship God not just with words but also with deeds, as the “Lord’s Prayer” teaches us.
Gathered this evening in the long bright twilight of the North, in the light of the unsetting sun which so clearly symbolizes Christ, the Light of the world, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, let us take to heart the words with which he ended his sermon in the Gospel. What he said to the crowd that day is addressed to each one of us too: “Every one... who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Mt 7,24-25).
May “our Father in heaven” grant us always this wisdom and this strength.
Stortorget, Tromsø (Norway)
Saturday, 3 June 1989
“How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8,1).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. These words of the Psalmist come to mind when we behold the beauty of God’s creation in this land of the Midnight Sun, which shines on the fjords and mountain ranges for all to admire. As we survey the magnificent landscape here in the far North of Norway within the Arctic Circle, our thoughts turn northwards towards that pole which has attracted so many adventurous travellers and explorers. We also turn to the South, East and West: to the other nations of Europe and to other vast continents, including those across the sea. And with the Psalmist we repeat: “How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” Creation bears witness. It speaks of the Creator.
509 2. It is a great joy for me to join you in giving thanks today for the gifts of Creation and Redemption we have received from God. As chief Pastor of the Catholic Church, I am especially eager to celebrate the Eucharist with the Catholic people: with my brother, Bishop Goebel, with the priests and religious who give themselves so generously to the service of the Church in this northern part of Europe, and with all the lay faithful whom they serve.
The roots of Catholic faith in the city of Tromsø are ancient. Already in the early Middle Ages, long before the divisions of a later time, there was a church here dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Today there is Our Lady’s Church, which serves the Catholic population of Northern Norway. That population includes not only native Norwegians but Catholic immigrants as well, who have come here in recent years to establish a new home for themselves and their children. Upon all my Catholic brothers and sisters I invoke an abundance of strength and joy in the Lord.
At the same time I cordially greet those of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, especially the members of the Lutheran Church, and all people of good will who have come here to pray with the Pope. I hope that my presence will serve to deepen mutual respect and to promote the unity of all Christians, in keeping with Christ’s prayer “that they may all be one” (Jn 17,21). I also hope that my visit will help to awaken in all hearts a renewed commitment to the person of Jesus Christ, the commitment which is the great goal of all the Churches in preaching the Gospel.
3. “When I see the heavens, the work of your hands,
the moon and the stars which you arranged,
what is man...?” (Ps 8,4-5).
The Psalmist asks God about man. And man, placed within the visible natural world of which he is a part, asks himself: “Who am I?”. It is necessary for him to ask this question. Of all the visible creatures in the universe, man alone is capable of asking questions about himself and about the world. The question “What is man?” evokes many different answers, each of which reflects human experience and human ways of thinking. They are the result of reflection, as well as scientific research. But the Psalmist answers this question in the light of God’s word. Here is what he has to say about man:
“You have made him little less than a god;
with glory and honour you crowned him,
gave him power over the works of your hand,
put all things under his feet” (Ps 8,6-7).
510 These words of the Psalm reflect the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. There we read: “God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth”. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gn 1,26-27). This is the answer of the Book of Genesis to the question: “What is man?”. And just as the Psalmist says, “You... gave him power over the works of your hand”, so too in Genesis we read that “God blessed them, and God said to them” – to both the man and woman – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion” (Ibid.1, 28).
4. We see then that the root of man’s vocation in the created world is to the found in certain fundamental gifts: in the gift of the person and of the community through mutual love – in marriage, in the family – in the gift of life. Man, whether male or female, is the only creature that can be called a person. This is because he is the only creature made in the “image and likeness” of God. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute a perfect communion of love, so too each of us is called to enter into loving communion with others through self-giving. Without this relationship we can neither live nor develop our gifts.
In the Book of Genesis we see how this self-giving is mainly realized in marriage: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gn 1,26-27). The love of a married couple unites them, but it also enables them to become cooperators with God in giving life to a new human person. Thus they establish the most basic of human communities, the family. At the same time, Genesis also speaks of another fundamental gift: the earth, which is given to man so that he may use its riches in a creative way.
We cannot continue our reflection on God’s word in today’s liturgy without first asking: “How well does man use these fundamental gifts?”. What is the mutual relationship of man and woman today? What of marriage and the family? Are they really a communion of life and love? Again, does man make good use of his dominion over the earth? Is he a conscientious protector of creatures or a brutal exploiter? By misusing the natural environment does he not threaten his own future on this planet?
5. “...what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him?” (Ps 8,5).
What is he? The Psalmist’s question leads us further. It prepares us for the conversation which Christ had with Nicodemus by night: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn 3,5-6). People are born from their parents – from men and women – according to the flesh. But they must also be born spiritually. The truth is that they are not only flesh but also spirit. Their destiny is not only the earth and the created world, but also the Kingdom of God.They must therefore be born of the Holy Spirit so as to become, by a supernatural gift, adopted children of God, children “in the Son”. This is the meaning of Baptism, the sacrament of “water and the Spirit”, of which Christ speaks in his conversation with Nicodemus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are freed from the inheritance of original sin and are given the pledge of eternal life in God.
Christ says to Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3,16-17). What does it mean to be “saved”? It means to be freed from evil. It means to be freed from the sin that leads away from God, and to be prepared in Christ for union with God.For eternal union with God: for eternal life! Christ also revealed to Nicodemus that night the meaning of the Cross on which he was to offer his life for man’s redemption. He says: “the Son of man must be lifted up” (Ibid.3, 14). And elsewhere Saint John tells us; “By this we know love, that (Christ) laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1Io. 3, 16).
6. A few moments ago I spoke of love in marriage and family life. But what about people outside the family circle? The example of Christ and his self-sacrifice on the Cross leads us into the very depths of charity, to that love which embraces not only those who love us, but every human being, even our enemies. This kind of charity is a gift from God; it is a baptismal gift. Left to ourselves, we may achieve a certain altruism in the name of our common humanity. But as the Second Vatican Council pointed out so prophetically – and we see this verified every day – “once God is forgotten, the creature is lost sight of as well” (Gaudium et Spes GS 36). If we do not love God, known or unknown, we will not love one another.
To you, dear brothers and sisters, has been entrusted a great gift. The light of Christ which never sets has shone upon this land for many generations. It is your privilege to know that his Birth, Death and Resurrection reveal that “God is love” (1 Io.4, 16). For a Christian, love is not a philosophy or a set of principles, much less an ideology; it is not even a morality as such. For us love has a personal name, and this name is Jesus Christ! It is only by entering into a relationship of love with this living person that we can fulfil the purpose for which we were created. It is only by transcending ourselves through faith, by responding to the divine gift of Baptism into Christ, that we will find the joy and peace for which the human heart longs.
Dear people of Northern Norway, I beg you: open the door of your hearts to Christ. Enter into communion with God through Christ, so that you may be in communion with every human person. Turn to him whose name is love so that you may love others, not because of any mere passing qualities, but because they are created in the image and likeness of God, because they have been redeemed, with you, in the Blood of the Lamb.
7. “What is man that you should keep him in mind?” The Gospel answers that question for us. It is a response that surpasses anything that we could hope for or imagine. It encompasses much more than we could ever think about ourselves or could say as a result of all our searching, with all the language of science.
511 Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask a question here, on this spot, in this city of Tromsø, on the northern edge of Europe, and let it be directed to the whole continent and to all the continents and nations of this planet: “What is man?”. Down through the centuries the answer in the Gospel of Christ reaches every generation.It is the answer of the Paschal Mystery, of the Cross and Resurrection!
Truly, “the light has come into the world”, but have we not too often preferred the darkness? (Cfr. Io Jn 3,19) Why is this so? In Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus we find the following answer: “every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God” (Jn 3,20-21). We who are baptized into Christ must take his invitation to heart every day of our lives: “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light” (Ibid. 12, 36). This, dear brothers and sisters, is your vocation and dignity: to be children of light in this land of the Midnight Sun:
– the divine light that shines on creation,
– the light that leads to redemption,
– the everlasting light of Christ.
För jeg avslutter vil jeg gjerne takke dere for invitasjonen til Tromsö.
Min takk og min hilsen gjelder i särlig grad de troende i Tromsö katolske Stift. Men min takk og min hilsen gär videre til dere alle som har värt med i denne gudstjenesten for a prise var felles Far och hans Sönn Jesus Kristus i Den hellige And.
Jeg takker myndighetene i denne by som har lagt alt vel til rette (og har passet godt ?a meg).
Jag har hört om gjestfriheten her i Nord-Norge og har fätt oppleve den.
Matte Var Herre Jesus Kristus, Kirkens Herre, före arbeidet for Kirkens enhet videre till malet. Matte Han velsigne denne by og denne landsdel og alle dem som er her. Dette er min bönn for dere.
512 Cathedral of Christ the King, Reykjavik (Iceland)
Sunday, 4 June 1989
“Lord,... I am not worthy to have you come under my roof” (Lc 7,6).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. These are familiar words. We say them before Holy Communion every time we participate at Mass. Today they will be repeated here in Reykjavik, in Iceland, in this solemn assembly gathered in faith and love to celebrate the Eucharist with the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter.
Text in Icelandic
Kaeru börn; betta er hátídleg stund í lífi ykkar og mér er bad einstök ánaegja ad vera hér á Íslandi til ad veita ykkur sakramentid, er bid gangid í fyrsta sinn til altaris. Pid hafid nú nád beim broska ad geta tekid á móti altarissakramentinu. Pad er von mín ad bid vardveitid kaerleikann, sem bid synid Jesú Kristi í dag, alla aevidaga ykkar.
Ykkur, íslenskum börnum og ungmennum, fel ég bennan kross, sem ég nú hef blessad. Hann munu skátar reisa vid Ulfljótsvatn til minningar um heimsókn mína. Hann mun minna ykkur á búsund ára sögu kristni á Íslandi. Hann mun minna ykkur á, ad bessi trú er arfleifd ykkur. Tileinkid ykkur hana! Lifid hana til fullnustu! Petta er ósk mín til handa íslenskri aesku.
This solemn Eucharist, the memorial of the saving death of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a celebration of Iceland’s thousand years of Christian history. With gratitude we remember “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith”: from the first hermits of the ninth century mentioned in the Sagas, who came possibly from Ireland, and the first Icelandic bishop, Isleifur Gissurarson, and the saintly Bishop Thorlakur Thorhallsson. We remember your national hero, Bishop Jon Arason, the Jesuit Father Jon Svensson, and Gunnar Einarsson who persevered like Simeon waiting for the Lord, and died one month after his son Johannes Gunnarsson returned as the first Icelandic Catholic bishop of modern times. And all the others, too numerous to mention by name. Both Catholics and Lutherans can look back on the fidelity of men and women of sincere and resolute faith who bore witness to Christ in this land. Christ is the Light of the nations, the Light of these Northern countries I am visiting, the Light of Iceland! To him be praise for ever and ever!
2. It was Christ himself who gave us the Eucharist. He gave it once for all when he offered himself on the Cross “for the life of the world”. In fact, during the Last Supper he instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood under the signs of bread and wine, and he told the Apostles to renew that memorial – “in memory of him” – until he comes again. Christ himself gave to them, and gives to us, his Body as food and his Blood as our spiritual drink.
The Eucharist, which is celebrated over and over again in the Church, is both a Sacrifice and a Banquet. It contains the Church’s whole spiritual wealth: Christ himself in the fullness of his humanity and in his marvellous divine equality with the Father. It is the very centre of the assembly of the faithful over which the priest presides (Cfr. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 5). The Second Vatican Council clearly states that no Christian community can be built up unless it has its basis and centre in the celebration of the Eucharist, in which all education in community spirit must originate (Cfr. ibid. 6). In fact, the Council boldly states that the principal manifestation of the Church consists in the full, active participation of God’s holy people in the Eucharist at which the bishop presides, surrounded by his priests and ministers (Cfr. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 41). All else in the Church’s life is directed to this.
513 It is therefore a great joy on this Sunday, during my visit to Iceland, to be able to celebrate this most holy of gifts with the Catholic community:
– with Bishop Jolson, and the priests who serve here;
– with the religious; with the laity;
– in the company of our beloved Lutheran brothers and sisters who have wished to join us in this moment of prayer.
I have been told that this is Seaman’s Sunday, when special prayers are offered throughout the country for those who work at sea. Let us remember those who have been lost or injured in this traditional Icelandic occupation, which demands so much effort, courage and perseverance. May God have mercy on the souls of the departed and may he comfort those who have been the victims of a sea that is so generous but at times so cruel.
3. The words “Lord,... I am not worthy” (Lc 7,6) were said for the first time by a Roman centurion, a man serving as a soldier in the land of Israel. Though he was a foreigner and a pagan, he loved the people of Israel, and – as the Gospel tells us – he had even built them a synagogue, a house of prayer. For that reason the Jews warmly supported the request he wished to make to Jesus, to heal his servant. In answer to the centurion’s petition Jesus set out for his house. But at that point the centurion, wanting to save Jesus the effort, said to him: “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; that is why I did not presume to come to you myself. Just give the order and my servant will be healed (Lc 7,6-7). Christ granted the centurion’s wish, but at the same time “he was amazed” at the centurion’s words and said to the crowd following him: “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith” (Ibid. 7, 9).
4. If we repeat the words of the centurion when we approach Holy Communion, we do so because these words express a faith that is strong and deep. The words are simple but in a sense they contain the fundamental truth which says who God is and who man is: God is all-holy, he is the Creator who gives us life and who makes all that exists in the universe. We are creatures and his children, in need of healing because of our sins.
In a highly developed society such as yours, where everyone has enough to eat, where education and health care are available to all, and where a high level of social justice has been achieved, it is easy to lose sight of the Creator, from whose loving hands all things come. It is easy to live as if God did not exist. Indeed, there is a powerful attraction to such an attitude, for it might seem that acknowledging God as the origin and end of all things lessens human independence and places unacceptable limits on human action. But when we forget God we soon lose sight of the deeper meaning of our existence, we no longer know who we are (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 36). Is this not an important part of the dissatisfaction that is common in highly developed societies?
Is it not fundamental for our psychological and social well-being to hear God’s voice in the wonderful harmony of the universe? Is it not in fact liberating to recognize that the stability, truth, goodness and order which the human mind increasingly discovers in the cosmos are a reflection of the unity, truth, goodness and beauty of the Creator himself?
A radical challenge facing the human family at the end of the twentieth century is to use the earth’s resources wisely and responsibly, which means with respect for the limits to which these resources are necessarily subject. To do this is to respect the will of the Creator. And in human affairs the challenge is to build a world of justice, peace and love, where the life and equal dignity of every human being, without discrimination, is defended and sustained. To do this is to recognize the face of God in every human face, and especially in the tears and sufferings of those who long to be loved or justly treated.
No single person can solve all the world’s problems. But every act of goodness is an important contribution to the changes we all wish to see. It was from a profound sense of justice that Einar Asmundsson took the destitute Father Baudoin, a foreigner, into his home. This act had consequences far beyond anything Einar Asmundsson himself could imagine. So it is that all our good actions constitute a victory for justice, peace and human dignity. But our selfishness and lack of moral courage lead to the persistence and even strengthening of injustice in the world.
514 5. The centurion’s words are the voice of the creature praising the Creator for his generosity and goodness. Indeed, those words contain the entire Gospel: the entire Good News of our salvation. They bear witness to the wonderful Gift of God himself, expressed in the Word of life. God bestows on humanity an absolutely free gift – a share in his own divine nature. He endows his creatures with eternal life in Christ. Man is graced by God.
The faith of the Roman centurion was great. He was aware of how much he had been “graced” by Christ. He knew that he was not worthy of such a gift, and that this gift was far beyond anything that he, a mere man, could humanly achieve or even desire, for the gift is truly supernatural. The wonder of this gift is that it makes it possible for us to achieve the object of our deepest longings: to live forever in intimate union with God who is the source of all good. In the Eucharist we share in this same gift sacramentally. The Eucharist is a memorial of the suffering and death of Jesus: it fills us with grace, and it is a pledge of our future glory. Through faith we must constantly renew our gratitude for the divine gift.
In Christ, who is the divine Gift, the gift of the Gospel, the gift of the Eucharist is offered to everyone. Everyone is invited to become a member of “the household of the faith” (Cfr. Gal Ga 6,10). In this Church there are no strangers”. Even someone who comes from “a far country”, from very far away, is “at home” in the Church. That is what today’s First Reading from the Book of Kings tells us: when Solomon dedicates the great Temple in Jerusalem, he prays that “all the peoples of the earth may know your name” (1 Reg. 8, 43). In spite of differences of race, nationality, language and culture, all are called to share equally in the unity and fellowship of God’s people. While we are well aware that history has left to us Christians those divisions and differences in faith which make it impossible for us to share in the Eucharist, we earnestly pray for the time when Christ’s prayer will be fully answered: that all may be one, so that the world will believe (Cfr. Io Jn 17,21).
6. “Praise the Lord, all you nations, acclaim him all you peoples! Strong is his love for us; he is faithful for ever” (Ps 116,1-2).
Today the Church everywhere sings these words – wherever Christians gather to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist, just as we are doing here on this island of the North Atlantic, in Iceland! In so many different languages the words of the centurion are being repeated: “Lord,... I am not worthy”. These words – like those of the Psalm – speak of God’s gifts to each one of us: our life, our family, the achievement of our society, our faith, and the greatest of all God’s gifts, his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
“Lord,... I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed” (Cfr. Luc Lc 7,6).
Lord Jesus Christ! I thank you for enabling me to proclaim the mystery of faith here in Iceland, in the midst of your faithful people: with those who are about to receive you sacramentally for the first time, with the entire Catholic community, and in the company of my Lutheran brothers and sisters.
Kaeru kristnu vinir.
Ég pakka ykkur innilegar viotökur og óska ykkur og öllum Íslendingum allrar blessunar Guos.
S. John Paul II Homil. 505