S. John Paul II Homil. 804



24 December 1997

1. "Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy... ; for to you is born this day... a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (
Lc 2,10-11).

Today! This "today" which resounds in the liturgy does not refer only to the event which took place two thousand years ago and which changed the history of the world. It also refers to this Holy Night in which we are gathered here, in Saint Peter's Basilica, in spiritual communion with all those throughout the world who are celebrating the Solemnity of Christmas. Even in the farthest reaches of the five Continents there resound tonight the angelic words heard by the shepherds of Bethlehem: "Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy... ; for to you is born this day... a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Lc 2,10-11).

Jesus was born in a stable, as the Gospel of Luke recounts, "because there was no room for them in the inn" (Lc 2,7). Mary, his Mother, and Joseph had not found a welcome in any house in Bethlehem. Mary had to lay the Saviour of the world in a manger, the only cradle available for the Son of God made man. This is the reality of the Lord's Nativity. Every year we return to it: thus we rediscover it, thus we experience it every time with unchanged wonder.

2. The birth of the Messiah! It is the central event in the history of humanity. The whole human race was awaiting it with a vague presentiment; the Chosen People awaited with explicit awareness.

A privileged witness of this expectation, throughout the entire liturgical season of Advent and also at this solemn vigil, is the Prophet Isaiah who, from the distant centuries directs his inspired gaze to this single, future night at Bethlehem. Although he lived many centuries earlier, he speaks of this event and its mystery as if he were an eyewitness of it: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given" - "Puer natus est nobis, Filius datus est nobis" (Is 9,6).

Such is the historical event imbued with mystery: a tender child is born, fully human but at the same time the only-begotten Son of the Father. He is the Son, not made but eternally begotten, the Son of one being with the Father. "God from God, light from light, true God from true God". He is the Word, "through whom all things were made".

We shall soon proclaim these truths in the Creed and add: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man". Professing our faith together with the whole Church, this night too we shall acknowledge the amazing grace which the Lord's mercy bestows on us.

Israel, the People of God of the Old Covenant, was chosen to bring to the world, as a "shoot from the stump of David", the Messiah, the Saviour and Redeemer of all humanity. Together with an outstanding representative of that People, the Prophet Isaiah, let us therefore turn to Bethlehem with our eyes lifted in expectation of the Messiah. In the divine light we can glimpse how the Old Covenant is being fulfilled and how, with Christ's birth, a New and Eternal Covenant is being revealed.

3. Saint Paul speaks of this New Covenant in the Letter to Titus which we have just heard: "The grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men" (Tt 2,11). Precisely this grace enables humanity to live "awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ", who "gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds" (Tt 2,14).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, this message of grace is today addressed to us! Listen, then! To all "whom God loves", to all who accept the invitation to pray and keep vigil on this Holy Christmas Night, I repeat with joy: God's love for us has been revealed! His love is grace and faithfulness, mercy and truth! By setting us free from the darkness of sin and death, he has become the firm and unshakeable foundation of the hope of every human being.

806 The liturgical song repeats this with joyful insistence: Come, let us adore him! Come from every part of the world to contemplate what has taken place in the grotto ion.

4. How unsearchably deep is the mystery of the Incarnation! Abundantly rich, in turn, is the Christmas Liturgy: in the Masses of Midnight, Dawn and Christmas Day, various liturgical texts cast successive rays of light on this great event which the Lord wants to make known to all who await him and seek him (cf. Lk
Lc 2,15).

In the mystery of Christmas is fully reflected the truth of his plan of salvation for man and for the world. It is not only man who is to be saved, but all creation is invited to sing to the Lord a new song, to rejoice and to exult together with all the nations of the earth (cf. Ps Ps 96).

It was this very song of praise which resounded with solemn magnificence over the poor stable at Bethlehem. We read in Saint Luke that the heavenly host praised God saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased" (Lc 2,14).

In God is the fullness of glory. On this night the glory of God becomes the inheritance of all creation and, in particular, of mankind. Yes, the Eternal Son, the eternal object of the Father's pleasure, became man, and his earthly birth on Christmas night testifies once and for all that in him every man is included in the mystery of God's love, which is the source of definitive peace.

"Peace among men with whom he is pleased". Yes, peace to humanity! This is my Christmas wish. Dear Brothers and Sisters, during this night and throughout the Christmas Octave, let us implore from the Lord this much needed grace. Let us pray that all humanity will come to know in the Son of Mary, born in Bethlehem, the Redeemer of the world who brings us the gift of love and peace.




St Ignatius Church

Wednesday 31 December 1997

1. "Ubi venit plenitudo temporis, misit Deus Filium suum...". "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Ga 4,4).

The Latin expression plenitudo temporis intends to show that the mystery of the Incarnation marks the fullness of time. The Son of God, by becoming man, entered the temporal dimension, and by his presence, brought it into eternity. Jesus Christ, the Word, the Son one in being with the Father, God from God, belongs in himself to the divine dimension of eternity but, by becoming man, in himself accepted the temporal dimension. The birth of the Redeemer in Bethlehem thus gave rise to a new way of counting the years: in fact: it is customary to speak of "before" and "after" Christ.

807 2. Christus heri et hodie, Principium et Finis, Alpha et Omega. Ipsius sunt tempora et saecula. Ipsi gloria et imperium per universa aeternitatis saecula. The liturgy proclaims these words during the Easter Vigil, while the numbers of the year are carved on the paschal candle, the symbol of the risen Christ. Time belongs to Christ. In becoming man, the Son of God accepted time, which he subjected to himself, as a measure of his earthly existence. Through him, the history of man and salvation meet and are united.

Today, the last day of the year, let us look at the days, the weeks, the months that have passed, as at another fragment of salvation history, which concerns us all. In the spiritual atmosphere that marks this Christmas season, the Diocese of Rome, in communion with all Christianity throughout the world, pauses this evening to reflect on 1997, another solar year we will soon have left behind.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, with regard to our diocesan community, the year ending today is pre-eminently associated with the City Mission which, after a period of preparation, has increasingly involved the parishes and all ecclesial realities. It is a place for carrying out community and ongoing evangelization, which with God's grace is proving to be a particularly effective way of proclaiming the Gospel to the inhabitants of our metropolis.

Last Lent, about 12,000 missionaries, mostly lay people, visited the city's families, bringing them as a gift the Gospel of Mark. The act of entering homes with the Gospel and the warm welcome the missionaries have usually been given are in themselves highly significant: Romans, even those who do not go to church or only rarely, are waiting to meet the Lord. This is also confirmed by the remarkable interest and widescale participation resulting from the meetings on the theme of faith and the search for God that were held in the Cathedral Basilica of St John Lateran. Through them, a sincere dialogue was established between those who proclaim Christ and those who are seeking complete answers to life's basic questions.

The Mission invites us to look to the future, to prepare the ground for the evangelization of our city in the perspective of the third millennium. With this in mind, in the last part of the year we paid special attention to young people, whom I myself addressed in a special Letter on 8 September, the feast of the Birth of Mary, urging them to be protagonists in proclaiming and witnessing to Christ among their contemporaries. I hope that passion for the Gospel will make increasing headway in the souls of many young Romans.

4. During this celebration, as we embrace the entire city community in our prayer, I wish to address a cordial greeting to dear Cardinal Ruini with his Auxiliary Bishops, to Cardinal Canestri and Fr Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to whose religious is entrusted the Church that has welcomed us. The greeting is also extended to all the city's inhabitants: in the first place, to the mayor, who again this year wished to be present at this ceremony to offer, on behalf of the Administration, the traditional votive chalice. With him, I greet the members of the Municipal Administration and Council whom I will have the joy to meet next 15 January, during my visit to the Capitoline. I address a special thought to the president of the region, to the prefect of Rome and to all the other authorities present. I greet the social workers who serve the people, and the volunteer workers involved in numerous activities. A special mention goes to everyone who is in difficulty and is spending these festive days in hardship and suffering. To one and all I assure my affectionate thoughts, strengthened by constant prayer.

As we end 1997, a trusting plea rises spontaneously to the Lord: that he may give his Spirit of wisdom and strength to preachers of the Gospel and open the hearts, consciences and lives of each one fearlessly to receive Christ who comes.

In reviewing the past year, I would also like to thank the Lord who allowed me to visit other parish communities, thus reaching a total of 265 parishes since the beginning of my episcopal ministry in Rome. Everywhere I have found living communities, although in a variety of social conditions, which are keen to grow in faith and in active witness to Christian charity.

This network of parishes, which covers the entire territory of the Diocese and whose structures are also being completed in view of the Great Jubilee, is a resource of incalculable value for the city of Rome. In fact, it encourages the strengthening of social relations marked by mutual knowledge, friendship and solidarity. It greatly contributes to the education of children and young people and to the moral capacity of families, to hospitality for the marginalized and to the care of the lonely and suffering.

5. To function efficiently, each parish community, like every specific form of diocesan pastoral ministry, needs the generous and faithful service of its priests. I therefore thank the Lord that last 20 April I could ordain 30 new priests for our Diocese.

The Roman Seminary, together with the other seminaries in which our diocesan clergy are trained, offers through the Lord's grace an effective formative course in which serious study is accompanied by an intense life of prayer and commitment to authentic fraternal communion. As I encourage those in charge of formation to continue their praiseworthy work, I am thinking first and foremost of Cardinal Ugo Poletti, whom the Lord called to himself on 25 February this year. We remember him today, as we reiterate our gratitude to God for the good that he achieved in this Church and in this city. With Cardinal Poletti, we also entrust to the Lord the other priests who died during the year, including beloved Mons. Luigi Di Liegro. The testimony and work of the priests who devoted their lives to God and to their brothers and sisters is a legacy and a valuable example for the clergy and for the whole diocesan community.

808 Another reason for deep gratitude to the Lord is the noticeable increase in the number of priestly vocations, which promises great hope for the future of our community. Here I express the wish that a similar increase, rich in promising apostolic fruits for everyone, may also be noted in vocations to the consecrated life, especially female religious vocations. And I am sure that this will happen, if priests and parish communities generously support the work the institutes of consecrated life are undertaking in this area.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, we have paused to consider some aspects of what God has done in our Diocese this year. In glancing back to the past months, the desire to ask forgiveness and give thanks to God comes naturally to us: to ask forgiveness for the sins committed and the omissions and faults remembered, commending them all to divine mercy; and then to give thanks for all that God has given us day after day.

This is why we sing the Te Deum: we praise God and give him thanks for the good he has granted to us, which marked the various moments of the year that has now ended:

Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine,
et benedic hereditati tuae...
Per singolos dies benedicimus te;
et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum,
et in saeculum saeculi.




1 January 1998

809 1. “When the time had fully come” (Ga 4,4). These words of the Letter of St Paul to the Galatians correspond very well to the character of today’s celebration. We are at the beginning of the New Year. According to the civil calendar, today is the first day of 1998; according to that of the liturgy, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Based on Christian tradition, the custom of counting the years from Christ’s birth has spread throughout the world. Therefore on this day the lay and ecclesial dimensions converge in their celebration. While the Church celebrates the Octave of Christmas, the civil world celebrates the first day of a new solar year. Precisely in this way, year after year, that “fullness of time” described by the Apostle is gradually expressed: it is a sequence that advances gradually down the centuries and millenniums and will be ultimately fulfilled at the end of the world.

2. We are celebrating the Octave of the Lord’s Birth. For eight days in the liturgy we have been reliving the great event of Jesus' birth, according to the narrative offered to us by the Gospels. Today St Luke describes the Christmas scene in Bethlehem once again. Indeed today’s account is far more condensed than that of Christmas Eve. It confirms and in a certain sense completes the text of the Letter to the Galatians. The Apostle writes: “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman ... so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’. So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir” (Ga 4,4-7).

St Paul’s marvellous text perfectly expresses what can be described as “the theology of Christ's birth”. It is a theology similar to that proposed by the Evangelist John who, in his Prologue to the Fourth Gospel, writes: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.... To all who received him, who believed in his name he gave power to become children of God” (Jn 1,14). St Paul expresses the same truth but, we can say, in a certain sense he completes it. This is the great proclamation that resounds in today’s liturgy: man becomes the adoptive son of God thanks to the birth of the Son of God himself. Man receives this sonship through the work of the Holy Spirit — the Spirit of the Son — whom God has sent into our hearts. It is thanks to the Holy Spirit’s gift that we can say: Abba! Father! Thus St Paul seeks to explain in what our adoptive sonship consists and how it is expressed in relation to God.

3. Aided by St Paul and by the Apostle John in our theological reflection on the Lord’s Birth, we understand better why we are accustomed to counting the years with reference to Christ’s birth. History is divided into centuries and millenniums “before” and “after” Christ, since the Bethlehem event represents the basic measure of human time. Jesus' birth is the centre of time. The Holy Night has become the essential reference point for the years, centuries and millenniums in which God’s saving action unfolds.

Christ’s coming into the world is important from the standpoint of human history, but it is even more important from the standpoint of man’s salvation. Jesus of Nazareth willingly submitted to the limits of time and opened it once and for all to the dimension of eternity. Through his life, and especially by his Death and his Resurrection, Jesus revealed unequivocally that man's existence is not “oriented to death” and destined to be extinguished in it. Man exists not “for death”, but “for immortality”. Thanks to today’s liturgy, this basic truth on man’s eternal destiny is re-presented at the beginning of every New Year. In this way light is shed on the value and on the proper dimension of every age, and also of the relentless passing of time.

4. In this perspective of the value and meaning of human time, on which the light of the faith is cast, the Church places the beginning of the New Year under the banner of prayer for peace. As I hope that all humanity may walk more decisively and harmoniously on the paths of justice and reconciliation, I am pleased to greet the distinguished ambassadors to the Holy See who are present at this solemn celebration. I address a cordial thought to dear Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and to all his co-workers in this dicastery, to which is entrusted the specific task of witnessing to the concern of the Pope and the Apostolic See for the various situations of tension and war, as well as the Church’s constant preoccupation with building a more just and fraternal world.

In my Message for the World Day of Peace this year, I wished to reflect on a topic I have particularly at heart: the close interaction between the promotion of justice and the building of peace. In fact, as the theme chosen for this day says: “From the justice of each comes peace for all”. Addressing the Heads of State and all people of goodwill, I stressed how the quest for peace cannot progress without an active commitment to justice. It is a responsibility that no one can shirk. “Justice and peace are not abstract concepts or remote ideals. They are values which dwell, as a common patrimony, in the heart of every individual. Individuals, families, communities and nations, all are called to live in justice and to work for peace. No one can claim exemption from this responsibility” (n. 1).

The Virgin most holy, whom we address on this first day of the year by the title “Mother of God”, turns her loving gaze to the whole world. Through her motherly intercession, the people of all the continents can feel more like brothers and prepare their hearts to welcome her Son, Jesus. Christ is the genuine peace that reconciles man with man and all humanity with God.

5. “May God be gracious to us and bless us” (Responsorial Psalm). Salvation history is marked by God’s blessing on creation, on humanity, on his believing people. This blessing is continuously repeated and confirmed in the development of the saving events. From the Book of Genesis we see how God, as the days of the creation follow one another, blesses all he has created. In a most particular way, he blesses man made in his own image and likeness (cf. Gn Gn 1,1-2, 4, 26).

Today, the first day of the year, in a certain sense the liturgy renews the Creator’s blessing that marks man’s history from the very beginning, borrowing Moses' words: “The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (NM 6,24-26).

810 It is a blessing for the year now beginning and for us, who are starting to live another moment of time, a precious gift of God. The Church, as it were identifying with the provident hand of God the Father inaugurates this New Year with a special blessing, addressed to every person. She says: The Lord bless you and keep you!

Yes, may God fill our days with good fruits. May he allow the whole world to live in justice and peace!



Tuesday, 6 January 1998

1. “Arise, shine, Jerusalem; for your light has come” (Is 60,1).

Jerusalem, welcome the Light! Welcome the One who is the Light: “God from God, Light from Light..., begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man” (Profession of Faith). Jerusalem, welcome this Light!

This “light shines in the darkness” (Jn 1,5) and men already see it from afar. Look, they have set out on a journey. By following the star, they go towards this Light which was made manifest in Christ. They journey; they search for the road; they ask the way. They arrive at Herod’s court. They ask where the king of the Jews has been born: “We have seen his star ... and have come to worship him” (Mt 2,2).

2. Jerusalem, protect your Light! He who was born in Bethlehem is in danger. Having heard that a king was born, Herod immediately considers how to eliminate someone he believes to be a rival to the throne. But Jesus is saved from this threat and flees with his family to Egypt, far from the king's murderous hand. He will later return to Nazareth, and at 30 years of age he will begin to teach. Everyone will then know that the Light has come into the world and it will be seen that “his own people received him not” (Jn 1,11).

Jerusalem, you did not defend the Light of the world. You prepared a shameful death for Christ. He was crucified, and then taken down from the cross and buried in a tomb. After sunset the patibulum crucis remained on Golgotha. Jerusalem, you did not defend your Light. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1,5). But look! On the third day Christ rose again. The darkness of death did not keep him.

Arise, shine, Jerusalem. Jerusalem, arise together with the one who has returned from the grave. Welcome the risen King, who has come to announce the kingdom of God and who wondrously established it on earth!

3. Jerusalem, share your Light! Share with all men this Light that shines in the darkness. Extend your invitation to everyone; be for all humanity the star that shows them the way to a new Christian millennium, just as once it guided the Magi of the East to the stable in Bethlehem. Invite everyone, so that “nations” may walk “by your light, and kings by the brightness of your rising” (Is 60,3). Share your Light! Share this Light that shone in you with all men, with all the nations of the earth.

811 From this perspective I turn to you, dear Brothers, who are today receiving your episcopal ordination: be faithful ministers of the new evangelization, which spreads the light of Christ in the world.

You, Archbishop Mario Francesco Pompedda, have been in the service of the Holy See for many years: continue with your characteristic skill to fulfil your task as Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, devoting yourself with pastoral spirit to the application of canonical justice.

May you, Archbishop Marco Dino Brogi, confidently assume your new tasks as Apostolic Nuncio in Sudan and Apostolic Delegate in Somalia, and represent the Pope's concern for those Churches that, not without difficulties and anxiety, proclaim Christ and his Gospel.

To you, Bishop Peter Kwaku Atuahene, is entrusted the mission of bringing the light of Christ to the Ghanaian Diocese of Goaso, of which you are the first Bishop.

You, Bishop Filippo Strofaldi, will take it instead to the Italian Diocese of Ischia.

And you, Bishop Wiktor Skworc, will spread it in Diocese of Tarnów, Poland.

The Church calls you, Bishop Franco Dalla Valle, to spread the light of the Gospel as the first Bishop of Juína, Brazil.

She sends you, Bishop Angelito R. Lampon, to fulfil your missionary vocation in Jolo, the Philippines, as successor of your brother, the late Bishop Benjamin de Jesus, barbarously killed 11 months ago near the cathedral.

You, Bishop Tomislav Koljatic Maroevic, will assist in the pastoral mission of the Archbishop of Concepción, Chile, as his Auxiliary.

And you, Bishop Francesco Saverio Salerno, as Secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, will continue your work of service to the Apostolic See in the administrative field.

To each of you, dear brothers, goes my warm embrace, with the assurance of a remembrance in my prayer and with a special blessing, which will always accompany you in your ecclesial service.

812 4. Jerusalem, behold the day of your epiphany! The Magi from the East, who were the first to recognize your Light, offer their gifts to you, Redeemer of the world. They present them to you who are God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; to you, through whom all things were made; to you, who became man by the power of the Holy Spirit, taking your body from the Virgin Mary.

The eyes of the Magi truly saw you. Today our eyes see you again, as they gaze on the mysterium of holy Epiphany.

“Arise, shine, Jerusalem; for your light has come” (
Is 60,1).



Sunday, 11 January 1998

1. “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Lc 3,22).

With these words, repeated in today’s liturgy, the Father shows his Son to men and reveals his mission as one consecrated to God, as the Messiah.

At Christmas we contemplated with wonder and interior joy the appearance of “the grace of God ... for the salvation of all men” (Tt 2,11), a grace that took the physical features of the Child Jesus, the Son of God born as man of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. And then we discovered the first manifestations of Christ, “the true light that enlightens every man” (Jn 1,9), which first shone for the shepherds on the holy night and then for the Magi, the first of the peoples called to faith, who set out by the light of the star that they had seen in the sky and who came to Bethlehem to adore the newborn Child (cf. Mt Mt 2,2).

At the Jordan, together with the manifestation of Jesus we also see the first manifestation of the Trinitarian nature of God: Jesus, indicated by the Father as his beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit who descends and remains over him.

2. Dear brothers and sisters, today I again have the joy of welcoming some infants to administer the sacrament of Baptism to them. This year there are 10 boys and nine girls, who come from Italy, Brazil, Mexico and Poland.

To you, dear parents and godparents, I extend a cordial greeting and warm congratulations. You know how this sacrament, instituted by the risen Christ (cf. Mt Mt 28,18-19), is the first sacrament of Christian initiation and serves as the entrance way to the life of the Spirit. In it the baptized person is consecrated to the Father in the Holy Spirit, in the image of Christ, the new Man, and made a member of the Church, his Mystical Body.

813 Baptism is called the “washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Tt 3,5), the birth by water and the Spirit without which no one “can enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3,5). It is also called enlightenment, because those who receive it “are enlightened in their minds” (St Justin, Apology, I, 61:12: ).

According to St Gregory Nazianzen, “Baptism is the most beautiful and marvellous of the gifts of God.... We call it ... gift, because it is given to those who do not bring anything; grace, because it is bestowed even on the guilty; baptism, because sin is buried in the water; anointing, because it is sacred and royal (as are those who are anointed); enlightenment, because it is radiant light; garment, because it covers our shame; bath, because it washes us; seal, because it preserves us and is a sign of the lordship of God” (Orations 40:3-4; PG 36:361C).

3. I look with pleasure on these children on whom the sacrament of Baptism will be conferred today, here in the Sistine Chapel. Their membership in the Christian communities of various countries highlights the universality of the call to the faith.

They are, as St Augustine says, “the Church's offspring: grace of the Father, fruitfulness of the Mother, devout shoot, new swarm, flower of our heart ... my joy and my crown” (Orations VIII: 1, 4; PL 46:838).

Today’s celebration invites us all to reflect on the commitments made at Baptism, to renew our decision to keep the flame of faith always alive, in order to become more and more the Father’s beloved children.

It is especially you, dear parents, whom I am addressing: with the support of the Christian community and with the help of the godparents, you will educate these children of yours in the faith and you will guide them on their way to the fullness of Christian maturity. May you always be assisted in this great mission by the Holy Family of Nazareth.

4. We call upon the Holy Spirit, to whom this second year of preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000 is dedicated. As he descended on Jesus near the Jordan River, so may he rest today upon each of these children and lead them, with his light and strength, to relive the stages of Christ's life.

We entrust these infants and their families to Mary, the Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. May they be able to hear and follow the Word of the Lord; nourished by the Eucharistic Bread, may they learn to love God and their neighbour as the divine Master has taught us and thus become heirs to the kingdom of heaven.



TO CUBA (JANUARY 21-26, 1998)

Santa Clara, Cuba

Thursday 22 January 1998

1. "These words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way" (Dt 6,6-7). We have gathered in the sports field of the Manuel Fajardo Higher Institute of Physical Education, which today has become an immense open-air church. At this meeting we wish to thank God for the great gift of the family.

S. John Paul II Homil. 804