S. John Paul II Homil. 1101
1. "The day shall dawn upon us from on high" (Lc 1,78). With these words Zechariah foretold the Messiah's imminent coming into the world.
1102 In the Gospel passage just proclaimed, we relived the episode of the Visitation: Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, Jesus' visit to John, God's visit to man.
Dear brothers and sisters who are sick and have gathered in this Square today to celebrate your Jubilee, the event we are observing is also the expression of a special visit from God. With this in mind, I welcome you and greet you warmly. You are in the heart of Peter's Successor, who shares your every concern and anxiety: welcome! Today I deeply share this celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 with you and with the health-care workers, family members and volunteers who are at your side with loving devotion.
I greet Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers, with his staff, who have organized this Jubilee meeting. I greet the Cardinals and Bishops present, as well as the prelates and priests who have accompanied groups of the sick to today's celebration. I greet the Health Minister of the Italian Government and the other authorities here. Lastly, a grateful greeting goes to the many professionals and volunteers who have made themselves available to serve the sick during these days.
2. "The day shall dawn upon us from on high". Yes! Today God has visited us. In every situation he is with us. But the Jubilee is the experience of a very special visit from him. In becoming man, the Son of God came to visit every person, and for each one he has become "the Door": the Door of life, the Door of salvation. Man must pass through this Door if he wants to find salvation. Each person is invited to cross this threshold.
Today you especially are invited to cross it, dear sick and suffering people gathered in St Peter's Square from Rome, from Italy and from the whole world. The invitation is extended to you who are connected by a special television link-up and are united with us in prayer from the shrine of Czestochowa in Poland: I offer you my cordial greeting and gladly extend it to everyone who is following our celebration on radio and television in Italy and abroad.
Dear brothers and sisters, some of you have been confined to a bed of pain for years: I pray God that today's meeting will bring you extraordinary physical and spiritual relief! I would like this moving celebration to offer everyone, the healthy and the sick, an opportunity to meditate on the saving value of suffering.
3. Pain and sickness are part of the human mystery on earth. It is, of course, right to fight illness, because health is a gift of God. But it is also important to be able to discern God's plan when suffering knocks at our door. The "key" to this discernment is found in the Cross of Christ.
The incarnate Word embraced our weakness, taking it upon himself in the mystery of the Cross. Since then all suffering has a possibility of meaning, which makes it remarkably valuable. For 2,000 years, since the day of the Passion, the Cross shines as the supreme manifestation of God's love for us. Those who are able to accept it in their lives experience how pain illumined by faith becomes a source of hope and salvation.
Dear sick people, called at this moment to carry an even heavier cross, may Christ be the Door for you. May Christ also be the Door for you, dear friends who accompany them and care for them.
Like the Good Samaritan, every believer must offer love to those who live in suffering. It is not right to "pass by" those who are tried by sickness. Instead, it is necessary to stop, to bend down to their illness and to share it generously, thus alleviating their burdens and difficulties.
4. St James writes: "Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (Jc 5,14-15). We will relive the Apostle's exhortation in a particular way when, in a little while, some of you dear sick people will receive the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. By restoring spiritual and physical vigour, this sacrament shows clearly that for the suffering Christ is the Door that leads to life.
1103 Dear sick people, this is the crowning moment of your Jubilee! In crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, you are joining all those in every part of the world who have already crossed it and those who will be crossing it during the Jubilee Year. May passing through the Holy Door be a sign of your spiritual entry into the mystery of Christ, the crucified and risen Redeemer, who for love bore "our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Is 53,4).
5. The Church enters the new millennium, clasping to her heart the Gospel of suffering, which is a message of redemption and salvation. Dear sick brothers and sisters, you are exceptional witnesses to this Gospel. The third millennium awaits this witness from suffering Christians. It also awaits it from you who work in the health-care apostolate and in various ways carry out a mission to the sick that is highly significant and most appreciated.
May the Immaculate Virgin, who came to visit us at Lourdes, as we recall with joy and gratitude today, bend down to each of you. In the cave of Massabielle, she entrusted to St Bernadette a message which brings us to the heart of the Gospel: to conversion and penance, to prayer and trustful abandonment into God's hands.
With Mary, the Virgin of the Visitation, let us too praise the Lord with the Magnificat, the hymn of hope for all the poor, the sick and the suffering of this world, who exult with joy because they know that God is beside them as their Saviour.
So, together with the Blessed Virgin, let us proclaim: "My soul magnifies the Lord" and turn our steps towards the true Jubilee Door: Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever!
At the end of the liturgy the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages.
I warmly greet the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in this special Jubilee Celebration for the Sick and for Health-Care Workers. Commending all of you to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians and Comfort of the Afflicted, I invoke upon you strength and peace in her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
I extend a very cordial greeting to the sick and to those accompanying them. You have come to celebrate this Jubilee together and you form a magnificent community of faith and hope. Your witness and prayer are a precious treasure and constitute an essential mission for the Church and the world. In fact, every prayer, even the most hidden, helps to raise the world to God. To serve one's brothers and sisters is to serve Christ. May the Virgin Mary guide you each day!
I now address the Spanish-speaking pilgrims taking part in this Jubilee Celebration for the Sick. May the Jubilee grace help you to bear courageous witness to Jesus Christ by offering your lives, your joys and your sorrows with him for the salvation of all.
I very warmly greet all the German-speaking pilgrims who have come to Rome to celebrate the Jubilee of the Sick. I express my esteem to all who are dedicated to the care and assistance of the sick. May the celebration of this liturgy help to strengthen your faith, so that you can draw from it new courage for living.
I extend a friendly greeting of solidarity to all the Portuguese-speaking sick who are taking part physically and spiritually in this Jubilee pilgrimage. I wish to assure you that I entrust your calvary each day to the God and Father of all consolation, so that your faith and hope in the divine Crucified One will never fail. He can change your affliction into joy and your pain into a remedy of salvation for those you love.
1104 I cordially greet the sick and suffering who have come from Poland, as well as those who are accompanying them and attending this gathering for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. Through your suffering you are especially close to Christ. In this suffering may Christ always be your strength, he who redeemed the world through his passion and death on the Cross. Dear suffering brothers and sisters, we are indebted to you. The Church is indebted to you, as is the Pope! Pray for us.
Tuesday, 22 February 2000
1. "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church" (Mt 16,18).
As pilgrims we have passed through the Holy Door of the Vatican Basilica, and now the Word of God draws our attention to what Christ said to Peter and of Peter.
We are gathered around the Altar of the Confession, above the Apostle's tomb, and our assembly is composed of that special community of service known as the Roman Curia. The "ministerium petrinum", that is, the service proper to the Bishop of Rome, in which each of you is called to collaborate in your own area of work, unites us in one family and inspires our prayer at the solemn moment that the Roman Curia is observing today, the feast of the Chair of St Peter.
All of us, and I myself first of all, are deeply touched by the words of the Gospel just proclaimed: "You are the Christ.... You are Peter" (Mt 16,16). In this basilica, a memorial to the martyrdom of the Fisherman from Galilee, they echo with extraordinary eloquence, enhanced by the intense spiritual climate of the Jubilee of the 2,000th anniversary of the Incarnation.
2. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16,16): this is the confession of faith made by the Prince of the Apostles. This is also the confession we renew today, venerable Brother Cardinals, Bishops and priests, together with all of you, dear men and women religious and laity, who offer your appreciated collaboration in the Roman Curia. We repeat the Apostle's clear words with particular feeling today as we celebrate our special Jubilee.
Christ's response echoes forcefully in our hearts: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church" (Mt 16,18). The Evangelist John testifies that Jesus gave Simon the name "Cephas" at their first meeting, when his brother Andrew had brought him to him (cf. Jn Jn 1,41-42). On the other hand, Matthew's account puts the greatest emphasis on Christ's action by situating it at an important moment in the messianic ministry of Jesus, who explains the significance of the name "Peter" by relating it to the building of his Church.
"You are the Christ": the Church is founded on Peter's profession of faith and on Jesus' subsequent declaration: "You are Peter". An invincible foundation, against which the forces of evil can never prevail: this foundation is safeguarded by the very will of the "Father who is in heaven" (Mt 16,17). The Chair of Peter, which we celebrate today, is not based on human assurances - "flesh and blood" - but on Christ, the cornerstone. And like Simon, we too are "blessed", for we know we have no reason to boast except in the eternal and providential plan of God.
3. "I myself will search for my sheep ... and will seek them out" (Ez 34,11). The first reading, from the well-known oracle of the prophet Ezekiel about the shepherds of Israel, forcefully recalls the pastoral nature of the Petrine ministry. It is this aspect that is reflected in the nature and service of the Roman Curia, whose mission is to collaborate with the Successor of Peter in carrying out the task entrusted to him by Christ of tending his sheep.
"I myself will search for my sheep, and I will make them lie down" (Ez 34,11). "I myself ": these are the most important words, for they express God's determination to take the initiative in personally caring for his people. We know that the promise - "I myself " - came true. It came true in the fullness of time, when God sent his Son, the Good Shepherd, to feed his flock "in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord" (Mi 5,4). He sent him to gather into one the dispersed children of God by offering himself as the lamb, the meek victim of expiation, on the altar of the Cross.
1105 It is this model of the Shepherd which Peter and the other Apostles learned to recognize and imitate by being with Jesus and sharing in his messianic ministry (cf. Mk Mc 3,14-15). We hear an echo of it in the second reading, in which Peter calls himself "a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed" (1P 5,1). Peter the shepherd is totally moulded by Jesus the Shepherd and by the dynamism of his paschal mystery. The "Petrine ministry" is rooted in this unique conformation to Christ the Shepherd on the part of Peter and his Successors, a conformation which is based on a special charism of love: "Do you love me more than these? ... Feed my lambs" (Jn 21,15).
4. On an occasion such as this, the Successor of Peter cannot forget what happened before Christ's Passion in the Garden of Olives after the Last Supper. None of the Apostles seemed to realize what was about to happen and Jesus knew that well: he knew he had to go there to watch and to pray, and thus prepare for "his hour", the hour of his death on the Cross.
He had told the Apostles: "You will all fall away; for it is written, "I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered'" (Mc 14,27). And Peter replied: "Even though they all fall away, I will not" (Mc 14,29). Never will I fall away, never will I leave you.... And Jesus said to him: "Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times" (Mc 14,30). "If I must die with you, I will not deny you" (Mc 14,31), Peter replied vehemently and the other Apostles with him. And Jesus said: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren" (Lc 22,31-32).
This is Christ's promise, our consoling certainty: the Petrine ministry is not founded on human abilities and strengths, but on the prayer of Christ who implores the Father that Simon's faith "may not fail" (Lc 22,32). When he has "turned again", Peter will be able to carry out his service among his brethren. The Apostle's repentance - we could almost say his second conversion - becomes the decisive turning point on his journey of following the Lord.
5. Dear brothers and sisters who are taking part in this Jubilee celebration for the Roman Curia, Christ's words to Peter must never be forgotten. Our passing through the Holy Door to receive the grace of the Great Jubilee must be inspired by a deep spirit of conversion. We are helped in this by Peter's example, his experience of human weakness which led him, shortly after the conversation with Jesus just recounted, to forget the promises he had made with such insistence and to deny his Lord. Despite his sin and limitations, Christ chose him and called him to a most high task: that of being the foundation of the Church's visible unity and of strengthening his brethren in the faith.
The decisive moment occurred on the night between the Thursday and Friday of the Passion. Christ, led out of the high priest's house, looked directly at Peter. The Apostle, who had just denied him three times, was struck by that gaze and understood everything. He remembered the Master's words and felt pierced to the heart. "And he went out and wept bitterly" (Lc 22,62).
We are so deeply moved by Peter's tears as to be spurred to an authentic inner purification. "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord", he exclaimed one day after the miraculous catch (Lc 5,8). Dear brothers and sisters, let us make Peter's invocation our own, as we celebrate our holy Jubilee. Christ will renew his wonders for us too, we hope with humble trust: he will grant us a superabundance of his healing grace and will work new miraculous catches, filled with promise for the Church's mission in the third millennium.
Blessed Virgin, who accompanied the first steps of the newborn Church with your prayer, watch over our Jubilee journey. Grant that, like Peter, we may experience Christ's continual support. Help us to live our mission of service to the Gospel in fidelity and joy, as we await the glorious return of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and for ever.
1. "I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.... On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying: "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great River, the river Euphrates' " (Gn 15,7).
Before Moses heard Yahweh's well-known words on Mount Sinai: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Ex 20,2), the Patriarch Abraham had already heard these other words: "I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans". Therefore, our thoughts must turn to that important place in the history of God's People, to seek there the origins of God's covenant with man. This is why, during this year of the Great Jubilee, as our hearts return to the beginnings of God's covenant with humanity, we turn our gaze to Abraham, to the place where he heard God's call and responded to it with the obedience of faith. Together with us, Jews and Muslims also look to the person of Abraham as a model of unconditional submission to the will of God (cf. Nostra aetate NAE 3).
1106 The author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes: "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go" (He 11,8). Behold: Abraham, whom the Apostle calls "our father in faith" (cf. Rom Rm 4,11-16), believed in God, trusted in the One who called him. He believed in his promise. God said to Abraham: "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.... by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves" (Gn 12,1-3). Are we talking about the route taken by one of the many migrations typical of an era when sheep-rearing was a basic form of economic life? Probably. Surely though, it was not only this. In Abraham's life, which marks the beginning of salvation history, we can already perceive another meaning of the call and the promise. The land to which human beings, guided by the voice of God, are moving, does not belong exclusively to the geography of this world. Abraham, the believer who accepts God's invitation, is someone heading towards a promised land that is not of this world.
2. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read: "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom it was said, "Through Isaac shall your descendants be named'" (11: 17-18). This is the climax of Abraham's faith. Abraham is tested by that God in whom he had placed his trust, that God from whom he had received the promise about the distant future: "Through Isaac shall your descendants be named" (He 11,18). He is called, however, to offer in sacrifice to God precisely that Isaac, his only son, on whom his every hope is based, in accordance moreover with the divine promise. How could God's promise to him of numerous descendants come true if Isaac, his only son, were to be offered in sacrifice?
Through faith Abraham emerges victorious from this test, a dramatic test that challenged his faith directly. "He considered", writes the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, "that God was able to raise men even from the dead" (11: 9). At that humanly tragic moment, when he was ready to inflict the mortal blow on his son, Abraham never stopped believing. Indeed, his faith in God's promise reached its climax. He thought that "God was able to raise men even from the dead". This is what this father, tested humanly speaking beyond all measure, thought. And his faith, his total abandonment to God, did not disappoint him. It is written: "hence he did receive him back" (He 1,19). Isaac was given back to him because he believed in God completely and unconditionally.
The author of the Letter seems to express something more here: all of Abraham's experience appears to him as an analogy of the saving event of Christ's Death and Resurrection. This man, placed at the origins of our faith, is part of God's eternal plan. There is a tradition that the place where Abraham was to have sacrificed his own son is the very same place where another father, the eternal Father, would accept the offering of his Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Thus Abraham's sacrifice can be seen as a prophetic sign of Christ's sacrifice. St John writes: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3,16). The Patriarch Abraham our father in faith unknowingly brings all believers, in a certain sense, into God's eternal plan in which the world's redemption is accomplished.
3. One day Christ said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham I was, I am" (Jn 8,58), and these words astonished his listeners, who objected: "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" (Jn 8,57). Those who reacted so reasoned in a merely human way, and therefore did not accept what Christ said. "Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you claim to be?" (Jn 8,53). Jesus answered them: "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad" (Jn 8,56). Abraham's vocation seems entirely directed to the day of which Christ is speaking. Here human calculations fail; God's measure must be applied. Only then can we understand the proper meaning of the obedience of Abraham who "believed against hope" (Rm 4,18). He hoped to become the father of many nations, and today he is certainly rejoicing with us because God's promise is fulfilled down the centuries, from generation to generation.
His believing, hoping against hope, was "reckoned to him as righteousness" (Rm 4,22), not only in his regard, but in view of us all, his descendants in faith. We "believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord" (Rm 4,24), put to death for our sins and raised for our justification (cf. Rom Rm 4,25). Abraham did not know this, but through the obedience of faith he directed his steps towards the fulfilment of all the divine promises, motivated by the hope that they would come to pass. Is there any greater promise than that fulfilled in Christ's paschal mystery? In the faith of Abraham almighty God truly made an eternal covenant with the human race, and its definitive fulfilment is Jesus Christ. The Only-begotten Son of the Father, one in substance with him, became Man to lead us through the humiliation of the Cross and the glory of the Resurrection into the land of salvation that God, rich in mercy, had promised humanity from the very beginning.
4. Mary, "who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lc 1,45), is an unsurpassable model of the redeemed people on their way to the fulfilment of this universal promise.
Daughter of Abraham in faith as well as in the flesh, Mary personally shared in this experience. Like Abraham, she too accepted the sacrifice of her Son, but while the actual sacrifice of Isaac was not demanded of Abraham, Christ drank the cup of suffering to the last drop. Mary personally took part in her Son's trial, believing and hoping at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn Jn 19,25).
This was the epilogue of a long wait. Having been taught to meditate on the prophetic texts, Mary foresaw what awaited her and in praising the mercy of God, faithful to his people from generation to generation, she gave her own consent to his plan of salvation; in particular, she said her "yes" to the central event of this plan, the sacrifice of that Child whom she bore in her womb. Like Abraham, she accepted the sacrifice of her Son.
Today we join our voice to hers and with her, Virgin Daughter of Zion, we proclaim that God has remembered his mercy, "as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever" (Lc 1,55).
25 February 2000
1107 1. “Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Mt 2,15).
Today’s Gospel recalls the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt where they came to seek refuge. “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you: for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him'” (Mt 2,13). In this way, Christ too, “who became man so that man could receive the divinity” (Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, Contra Arianos, 2, 59), wished to retrace the journey which was that of the divine call, the route which his people had taken so that all the members of the people could become sons and daughters in the Son. Joseph “rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt have I called my son'” (Mt 2,14-15). Providence led Jesus along the paths upon which in former times the Israelites had marched to go towards the Promised Land, under the sign of the Paschal lamb, celebrating the Passover. Jesus, the Lamb of God, too was called out of Egypt by the Father to fulfil in Jerusalem the Passover of the new and irrevocable covenant, the definitive Passover, which gives salvation to the world.
2. “Out of Egypt have I called my son” . Thus speaks the Lord, who brought his people out of the condition of slavery (cf. Ex Ex 20,2) to establish a covenant with them at Mount Sinai. The Passover feast would always be the remembrance of that liberation. It commemorates this event, which remains present in the memory of the people of God. When the Israelites departed for their long march, under the leadership of Moses, they did not think that their wanderings in the desert would last for forty years until they reached the Promised Land. Moses himself, who had led his people out of Egypt and had guided it throughout this time, did not enter the Promised Land. Before he died, he only contemplated it from the height of Mount Nebo, before handing on responsibility for the people to his successor Joshua.
3. While Christians are celebrating the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of Jesus, we must make this pilgrimage to the places which saw the beginning and unfolding of the history of salvation, the history of the irrevocable love between God and men, the Lord’s presence in time and in human lives. We have come to Egypt, on the path upon which God guided his people, with Moses as their leader, to bring them into the Promised Land. We are setting out, guided by the words of the book of Exodus: leaving our condition of slavery, we are going towards Mount Sinai, where God sealed his covenant with the house of Jacob, through Moses, in whose hands he placed the tables of the Decalogue. How beautiful is this covenant! It shows that God does not stop speaking to man in order to give him life in abundance. It places us in the presence of God and is the expression of his profound love for his people. It invites man to turn to God, to allow himself to be touched by God’s love and to fulfil the desire for happiness which he bears within himself. If we accept wholeheartedly the tables of the Ten Commandments, we will live fully by the law which God has placed in our hearts and we will have a share in the salvation which the Covenant made on Mount Sinai between God and his people revealed, and which the Son of God through his work of redemption offer to us.
4. In this land of Egypt, which I have the joy of visiting for the first time, the message of the new Covenant has been transmitted from generation to generation through the venerable Coptic Church, heir to the apostolic preaching and activity of the evangelist Saint Mark who, according to tradition, suffered martyrdom in Alexandria. On this day, let us give fervent thanks to God for the rich history of the Church and for the generous apostolate of its faithful, who down the centuries have been ardent witnesses to the Lord’s love, sometimes even to the point of shedding their blood.
With affection I thank His Beatitude Stephanos II Ghattas, Catholic Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria, for his words of welcome; they bear witness to your community’s living faith and fidelity to the Church. I cordially greet the Patriarchs and Bishops who are taking part in this liturgy, as well as the priests, religious and all the faithful who have come to accompany me in this stage of my Jubilee pilgrimage. I also extend respectful greetings to the Authorities and all those who have wished to be present for this celebration.
Your presence here around the Successor of Peter is a sign of the unity of the Church of which Christ is the head. May the fraternity among all the Lord’s followers, so clearly manifested here, encourage you to continue your efforts to build communities united in love, acting as a leaven of concord and reconciliation! In this way, you will find strength and comfort, especially in moments of difficulty or doubt, to bear ever more ardent witness to Christ in the land of your ancestors. With the Apostle Paul, I give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I pray for you without ceasing so that you will grow in faith, be steadfast in hope and spread everywhere the love of Christ (cf. Col Col 1,3-5).
5. In this Jubilee year, as we recall that Christ is “the Head of the Body, the Church” (Col 1,18), we must seek ever more ardently to make resolute progress on the path of the unity which he willed for his disciples, in a spirit of trust and fraternity. In this way our common witness will give glory to God and be more credible in the eyes of men. I pray to our Heavenly Father that serene and fraternal relations, in charity and good will, will be developed with the Orthodox Coptic Church, which I greet here with respect. Such a climate of dialogue and reconciliation will help to find solutions to the problems which still impede full communion. It will also promote respect for the sensitivities of each community, as well as for their specific way of expressing their faith in Christ and celebrating the sacraments, which the Churches must reciprocally recognize as administered in the name of the same Lord. In celebrating the Passover of the Lord during this pilgrimage, may we re-live the Pentecost experience, when all the disciples – gathered - together with the Mother of God – received the Holy Spirit who reconciles us with the Lord and is the principle of unity and strength for mission, making of us one body, the image of the world to come!
6. From the beginning, spiritual and intellectual life developed in a remarkable way in the Church in Egypt. Here we may recall the illustrious founders of Christian monasticism: Anthony, Pachomius and Macarius, and so many other Patriarchs, confessors, thinkers and doctors who are the glory of the universal Church. Even today the monasteries are living centres of prayer, study and meditation, in fidelity to the ancient cenobitic and anchoritic traditions of the Coptic Church, reminding us that faithful and prolonged contact with the Lord is the leaven which transforms individuals and society as a whole. Thus life with God causes the light to shine on our human faces and illumines the world with a new brightness, the living flame of love.
By accepting today this spiritual and apostolic enthusiasm handed down to them by their fathers in faith, may the young be attentive to the call of the Lord who invites them to follow him, and may they respond with generosity by committing themselves to him in the priesthood or the active or contemplative consecrated life! By the witness of their lives as men and women totally consecrated to God and their brothers and sisters, based on an intense spiritual experience, may consecrated men and women manifest the Lord’s unlimited love for the world!
7. In her commitment to the Egyptian people in the areas of education, health and charitable works, the Church seeks to express this disinterested love which excludes no one. The Church’s active presence in the intellectual and moral formation of young people is a long tradition of the Coptic Patriarchate and the Latin Vicariate. Catholic educational institutions wish to contribute to the promotion of the human person, especially of women and the family, by educating young people in essential human, spiritual and moral values, with respect for the conscience of everyone; they also aim at fostering friendly relations with Muslims so that the members of each community may make sincere efforts to understand one another and promote together social justice, moral values, peace, respect and freedom.
1108 All citizens have a duty to play an active part, in a spirit of solidarity, in the building of society, in consolidating peace between communities and in managing the common good in an honest way. In order to do this common work which should bring together all the members of the same nation, it is right that everyone, Christians and Muslims, while respecting different religious views, should place their skills at the service of the nation, at every level of society.
8. Following Moses in his journey of faith, during the Jubilee pilgrimage we are making in these days, we are invited to continue our way to the mountain of the Lord, to put aside our different forms of slavery in order to walk on the Lord’s path. “And God, seeing our good decisions and observing that we ascribe to him what we achieve ... will give us in return what is proper to him, the spiritual, divine and heavenly gifts” (Saint Macarius, Spiritual Homilies, 26, 20). For each one of us, Horeb, the “mountain of faith”, is to become “the place of encounter and of the mutual pact, in a sense therefore 'the mountain of love'” (Letter Concerning Pilgrimage to the Places Linked to the History of Salvation, 6). This is where the people committed themselves to live in full accord with the divine will, and where God assured them of his eternal benevolence. This mystery of love is fulfilled in the Passover of the new Covenant, in the gift which the Father makes of his Son for the salvation of all humanity. Let us today renew our acceptance of the divine law as a precious treasure! Like Moses, let us become men and women who intercede before the Lord and pass on to others the law which is a call to true life, which frees us from idols and makes every life infinitely beautiful and infinitely precious! For their part, young people are impatiently waiting for us to help them to discover the face of God, to show them the path to follow, the path of personal encounter with God and the human acts worthy of our divine filiation, a path which is certainly demanding, but a path of liberation which alone will fulfil their desire for happiness. When we are with God on the mountain of prayer, may we allow ourselves to be penetrated by his light, so that our faces will shine with the glory of God and be an invitation to others to live by this divine beatitude, which is the fullness of life!
“Out of Egypt have I called my son”. May everyone hear the call of the God of the Covenant and discover the joy of being his sons and daughters!
S. John Paul II Homil. 1101