S. John Paul II Homil. 1123
Israel – Nazareth
Saturday, 25 March 2000
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word” (Angelus Prayer).
1124 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. 25th March in the year 2000, the Solemnity of the Annunciation in the Year of the Great Jubilee: on this day the eyes of the whole Church turn to Nazareth. I have longed to come back to the town of Jesus, to feel once again, in contact with this place, the presence of the woman of whom Saint Augustine wrote: “He chose the mother he had created; he created the mother he had chosen” (Sermo 69, 3, 4). Here it is especially easy to understand why all generations call Mary blessed (cf. Lk Lc 2,48).
I warmly greet Your Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah, and thank you for your kind words of presentation. With Archbishop Boutros Mouallem and all of you – Bishops, priests, religious women and men, and members of the laity – I rejoice in the grace of this solemn celebration. I am happy to have this opportunity to greet the Franciscan Minister General, Father Giacomo Bini, who welcomed me on my arrival, and to express to the Custos, Father Giovanni Battistelli, and the Friars of the Custody the admiration of the whole Church for the devotion with which you carry out your unique vocation. With gratitude I pay tribute to your faithfulness to the charge given to you by Saint Francis himself and confirmed by the Popes down the centuries.
2. We are gathered to celebrate the great mystery accomplished here two thousand years ago. The Evangelist Luke situates the event clearly in time and place: “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph. . . The virgin’s name was Mary” (1:26-27). But in order to understand what took place in Nazareth two thousand years ago, we must return to the Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. That text enables us, as it were, to listen to a conversation between the Father and the Son concerning God’s purpose from all eternity. “You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin. Then I said. . . ?God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will’” (10:5-7). The Letter to the Hebrews is telling us that, in obedience to the Father’s will, the Eternal Word comes among us to offer the sacrifice which surpasses all the sacrifices offered under the former Covenant. His is the eternal and perfect sacrifice which redeems the world.
The divine plan is gradually revealed in the Old Testament, particularly in the words of the Prophet Isaiah which we have just heard: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. It is this: the virgin is with child and will soon give birth to a child whom she will call Emmanuel” (7:14). Emmanuel - God with us. In these words, the unique event that was to take place in Nazareth in the fullness of time is foretold, and it is this event that we are celebrating here with intense joy and happiness.
3. Our Jubilee Pilgrimage has been a journey in spirit, which began in the footsteps of Abraham, “our father in faith” (Roman Canon; cf. Rom Rm 4,11-12). That journey has brought us today to Nazareth, where we meet Mary, the truest daughter of Abraham. It is Mary above all others who can teach us what it means to live the faith of “our father”. In many ways, Mary is clearly different from Abraham; but in deeper ways “the friend of God” (cf. Is Is 41,8) and the young woman of Nazareth are very alike.
Both receive a wonderful promise from God. Abraham was to be the father of a son, from whom there would come a great nation. Mary is to be the Mother of a Son who would be the Messiah, the Anointed One. “Listen!”, Gabriel says, “ You are to conceive and bear a son. . . The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. . . and his reign will have no end” (Lc 1,31-33).
For both Abraham and Mary, the divine promise comes as something completely unexpected. God disrupts the daily course of their lives, overturning its settled rhythms and conventional expectations. For both Abraham and Mary, the promise seems impossible. Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren, and Mary is not yet married: “How can this come about”, she asks, “since I am a virgin?” (Lc 1,34).
4. Like Abraham, Mary is asked to say yes to something that has never happened before. Sarah is the first in the line of barren wives in the Bible who conceive by God’s power, just as Elizabeth will be the last. Gabriel speaks of Elizabeth to reassure Mary: “Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son” (Lc 1,36).
Like Abraham, Mary must walk through darkness, in which she must simply trust the One who called her. Yet even her question, “How can this come about?”, suggests that Mary is ready to say yes, despite her fears and uncertainties. Mary asks not whether the promise is possible, but only how it will be fulfilled. It comes as no surprise, therefore, when finally she utters her fiat: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me” (Lc 1,38). With these words, Mary shows herself the true daughter of Abraham, and she becomes the Mother of Christ and Mother of all believers.
5. In order to penetrate further into the mystery, let us look back to the moment of Abraham’s journey when he received the promise. It was when he welcomed to his home three mysterious guests (cf. Gen Gn 18,1-15), and offered them the adoration due to God: tres vidit et unum adoravit. That mysterious encounter foreshadows the Annunciation, when Mary is powerfully drawn into communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through the fiat that Mary uttered in Nazareth, the Incarnation became the wondrous fulfilment of Abraham’s encounter with God. So, following in the footsteps of Abraham, we have come to Nazareth to sing the praises of the woman “through whom the light rose over the earth” (Hymn Ave Regina Caelorum).
1125 6. But we have also come to plead with her. What do we, pilgrims on our way into the Third Christian Millennium, ask of the Mother of God? Here in the town which Pope Paul VI, when he visited Nazareth, called “the school of the Gospel”, where “we learn to look at and to listen to, to ponder and to penetrate the deep and mysterious meaning of the very simple, very humble and very beautiful appearing of the Son of God” (Address in Nazareth, 5 January 1964), I pray, first, for a great renewal of faith in all the children of the Church. A deep renewal of faith: not just as a general attitude of life, but as a conscious and courageous profession of the Creed: “Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est.”
In Nazareth, where Jesus “grew in wisdom and age and grace before God and men” (Lc 2,52), I ask the Holy Family to inspire all Christians to defend the family against so many present-day threats to its nature, its stability and its mission. To the Holy Family I entrust the efforts of Christians and of all people of good will to defend life and to promote respect for the dignity of every human being.
To Mary, the Theotókos, the great Mother of God, I consecrate the families of the Holy Land, the families of the world.
In Nazareth where Jesus began his public ministry, I ask Mary to help the Church everywhere to preach the “good news” to the poor, as he did (cf. Lk Lc 4,18). In this “year of the Lord’s favour”, I ask her to teach us the way of humble and joyful obedience to the Gospel in the service of our brothers and sisters, without preferences and without prejudices.
“O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen” (Memorare).
Jerusalem, Holy Sepulchre
Sunday, 26 March 2000
“I believe in Jesus Christ . . . conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. . . On the third day he rose again”
1. Following the path of salvation history, as narrated in the Apostles’ Creed, my Jubilee Pilgrimage has brought me to the Holy Land. From Nazareth, where Jesus was conceived of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, I have reached Jerusalem, where he “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried”. Here, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I kneel before the place of his burial: “Behold, the place where they laid him” (Mc 16,6).
The tomb is empty. It is a silent witness to the central event of human history: the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. For almost two thousand years the empty tomb has borne witness to the victory of Life over death. With the Apostles and Evangelists, with the Church of every time and place, we too bear witness and proclaim: “Christ is risen! Raised from the dead he will never die again; death no longer has power over him” (cf. Rom Rm 6,9).
“Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando; dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus” (Latin Easter Sequence Victimae Paschali). The Lord of Life was dead; now he reigns, victorious over death, the source of everlasting life for all who believe.
1126 2. In this, “the Mother of all Churches” (St. John Damascene), I extend warm greetings to His Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the Ordinaries of the other Catholic Communities, Father Giovanni Battistelli and the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, as well as the clergy, religious and lay faithful.
With fraternal esteem and affection I greet Patriarch Diodoros of the Greek Orthodox Church and Patriarch Torkom of the Armenian Orthodox Church, the representatives of the Coptic, Syrian and Ethiopian Churches, as well as of the Anglican and Lutheran Communities.
Here, where our Lord Jesus Christ died in order to gather into one the children of God who were scattered (Jn 11,52), may the Father of mercies strengthen our desire for unity and peace among all who have received the gift of new life through the saving waters of Baptism.
3. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2,19).
The Evangelist John tells us that, after Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples remembered these words, and they believed (cf. Jn Jn 2,22). Jesus had spoken these words that they might be a sign for his disciples. When he and the disciples visited the Temple, he expelled the money-changers and vendors from the holy place (cf. Jn Jn 2,15). When those present protested, saying: “What sign have you to show us for doing this?”, Jesus replied: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”. The Evangelist observes that he “was speaking of the temple of his body” (Jn 2,18-21).
The prophecy contained in Jesus’ words was fulfilled at Easter, when “on the third day he rose from the dead”. The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the sign that the Eternal Father is faithful to his promise and brings new life out of death: “the resurrection of the body and life everlasting”. The mystery is clearly reflected in this ancient Church of the Anástasis, which contains both the empty tomb – the sign of the Resurrection, and Golgotha – the place of the Crucifixion. The good news of the Resurrection can never be separated from the mystery of the Cross. Saint Paul tells us this in today’s Second Reading: “We preach Christ crucified” (1Co 1,23). Christ, who offered himself as an evening sacrifice on the altar of the Cross (cf. Ps Ps 141,2), has now been revealed as “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1Co 1,24). And in his Resurrection, the sons and daughters of Adam have been made sharers in the divine life which was his from all eternity, with the Father, in the Holy Spirit.
4. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Ex 20,2).
Today’s Lenten Liturgy sets before us the Covenant which God made with his people on Mount Sinai, when he gave the Ten Commandments of the Law to Moses. Sinai represents the second stage of that great pilgrimage of faith which began when God said to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gn 12,1).
The Law and the Covenant are the seal of the promise made to Abraham. Through the Decalogue and the moral law inscribed on the human heart (cf. Rom Rm 2,15), God radically challenges the freedom of every man and woman. To respond to God’s voice resounding in the depths of our conscience and to choose good is the most sublime use of human freedom. It is, in a real sense, to make the choice between life and death (cf. Dt Dt 30,15). By walking the path of the Covenant with the All-Holy God the people became bearers and witnesses of the promise, the promise of genuine liberation and fullness of life.
The Resurrection of Jesus is the definitive seal of all God’s promises, the birth-place of a new, risen humanity, the pledge of a history marked by the Messianic gifts of peace and spiritual joy. At the dawn of a new millennium, Christians can and ought to look to the future with steadfast trust in the glorious power of the Risen One to make all things new (cf. Rev Ap 21,5). He is the One who frees all creation from its bondage to futility (cf. Rom Rm 8,20). By his Resurrection he opens the way to the great Sabbath rest, the Eighth Day, when mankind’s pilgrimage will come to its end and God will be all in all (1Co 15,28).
Here at the Holy Sepulchre and Golgotha, as we renew our profession of faith in the Risen Lord, can we doubt that in the power of the Spirit of Life we will be given the strength to overcome our divisions and to work together to build a future of reconciliation, unity and peace? Here, as in no other place on earth, we hear the Lord say once again to his disciples: “Do not fear; I have overcome the world!” (cf. Jn Jn 16,33).
1127 5. “Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando; dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus.”
Radiant with the glory of the Spirit, the Risen Lord is the Head of the Church, his Mystical Body. He sustains her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the men and women of every generation, until he returns in glory!
From this place, where the Resurrection was first made known to the women and then to the Apostles, I urge all the Church’s members to renew their obedience to the Lord’s command to take the Gospel to all the ends of the earth. At the dawn of a new Millennium, there is a great need to proclaim from the rooftops the Good News that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3,16). “Lord, you have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6,68). Today, as the unworthy Successor of Peter, I wish to repeat these words as we celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice in this, the most hallowed place on earth. With all of redeemed humanity, I make my own the words which Peter the Fisherman spoke to the Christ, the Son of the living God: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”.
Jesus Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Amen.
Sunday, 9 April 2000
1. "We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12,21).
This is the request made to Philip by some Greeks who went up to Jerusalem for the Passover. Their desire to meet Jesus and to hear his word prompts a solemn response: "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified" (Jn 12,23). What is this "hour" to which Jesus refers? The context explains it: it is the mysterious and solemn "hour" of his Death and Resurrection.
To see Jesus! Like that group of Greeks, countless men and women down the centuries have desired to know the Lord. They have seen him with the eyes of faith. They have recognized him as the crucified and risen Messiah. They have let themselves be won over by him and have become his faithful disciples. They are the saints and blesseds whom the Church holds up to us as models to imitate and examples to follow.
In the context of the Holy Year celebrations, today I have the joy of raising several new blesseds to the glory of the altars. They are five confessors of the faith who proclaimed Christ in word and bore witness to him in continual service to their brethren. They are Mariano de Jesús Euse Hoyos, a diocesan parish priest; Francis Xavier Seelos, a professed priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer; Anna Rosa Gattorno, a widow, foundress of the Institute of the Daughters of St Anne; Mary Elisabeth Hesselblad, foundress of the Order of the Sisters of the Most Holy Saviour; and Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, foundress of the Congregation of the Holy Family in India.
2. "If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also" (Jn 12,26), Jesus told us in the Gospel we just heard. A faithful follower of Jesus Christ in the self-sacrificing exercise of the priestly ministry, Fr Mariano de Jesús Euse Hoyos, a Colombian, is raised today to the glory of the altars. From his intimate experience of meeting the Lord, Fr Marianito, as he is familiarly known in his homeland, dedicated himself tirelessly to the evangelization of children and adults, especially farmworkers. He spared no sacrifice or hardship, giving himself for almost 50 years in a modest parish of Angostura, in Antioquia, for the glory of God and the good of the souls entrusted to his care.
1128 May his shining witness of charity, understanding, service, solidarity and forgiveness be an example in Colombia and also an effective help in continuing the work of peace and full reconciliation in this beloved country. If 9 April 52 years ago marked the beginning of violence and conflicts, which unfortunately are still going on, may this day of the Great Jubilee year mark a new phase in which all Colombians will build a new Colombia together, one based on peace, social justice, respect for all human rights and brotherly love among children of the same homeland.
3. "Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervour sustain me, that I may teach transgressors your ways and sinners may return to you" (Ps 51,14-15). Faithful to the spirit and charism of the Redemptorist Congregation to which he belonged, Fr Francis Xavier Seelos often meditated upon these words of the Psalmist. Sustained by God's grace and an intense life of prayer, Fr Seelos left his native Bavaria and committed himself generously and joyfully to the missionary apostolate among immigrant communities in the United States.
In the various places where he worked, Fr Francis Xavier brought his enthusiasm, spirit of sacrifice and apostolic zeal. To the abandoned and the lost he preached the message of Jesus Christ, "the source of eternal salvation" (He 5,9), and in the hours spent in the confessional he convinced many to return to God. Today, Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos invites the members of the Church to deepen their union with Christ in the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Through his intercession, may all who work in the vineyard for the salvation of God's people be encouraged and strengthened in their task.
4. "I, when I am lifted up from the earth", Jesus promised in the Gospel, "will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12,32). Indeed, from high on the Cross Jesus will reveal to the world God's boundless love for humanity in need of salvation. Irresistibly drawn by this love, Anna Rosa Gattorno made a continual sacrifice of her life for the conversion of sinners and the sanctification of all mankind. To be "Jesus' voice" in order to bring the message of his saving love everywhere: this was her heart's deepest desire!
With complete trust in Providence and motivated by a courageous impulse of charity, Bl. Anna Rosa Gattorno had one desire: to serve Jesus in the suffering and wounded limbs of her neighbour, with sensitivity and motherly attention to all human misery.
Today the special witness of charity left by the new blessed is still a stirring encouragement for everyone in the Church who is committed more specifically to proclaiming the love of God, who heals the wounds of every heart and offers the fullness of immortal life to all.
5. "When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself" (Jn 12,32). The promise of Jesus is wonderfully fulfilled also in the life of Mary Elisabeth Hesselblad. Like her fellow countrywoman, St Bridget, she too acquired a deep understanding of the wisdom of the Cross through prayer and in the events of her own life. Her early experience of poverty, her contact with the sick who impressed her by their serenity and trust in God's help, and her perseverance despite many obstacles in founding the Order of the Most Holy Saviour of St Bridget, taught her that the Cross is at the centre of human life and is the ultimate revelation of our heavenly Father's love. By constantly meditating on God's word, Sr Elisabeth was confirmed in her resolve to work and pray that all Christians would be one (cf. Jn Jn 17,21).
She was convinced that by listening to the voice of the crucified Christ they would come together into one flock under one Shepherd (cf. Jn Jn 10,16), and from the very beginning her foundation, characterized by its Eucharistic and Marian spirituality, committed itself to the cause of Christian unity by means of prayer and evangelical witness. Through the intercession of Bl. Mary Elisabeth Hesselblad, pioneer of ecumenism, may God bless and bring to fruition the Church's efforts to build ever deeper communion and foster ever more effective cooperation among all Christ's followers: ut unum sint.
6. "Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest" (Jn 12,24). From childhood, Mariam Thresia Mankidiyan knew instinctively that God's love for her demanded a deep personal purification. Committing herself to a life of prayer and penance, Sr Mariam Thresia's willingness to embrace the Cross of Christ enabled her to remain steadfast in the face of frequent misunderstandings and severe spiritual trials. The patient discernment of her vocation eventually led to the foundation of the Congregation of the Holy Family, which continues to draw inspiration from her contemplative spirit and love of the poor.
Convinced that "God will give eternal life to those who convert sinners and bring them to the right path" (Letter 4 to her Spiritual Father), Sr Mariam devoted herself to this task by her visits and advice, as well as by her prayers and penitential practice. Through Bl. Mariam Thresia's intercession, may all consecrated men and women be strengthened in their vocation to pray for sinners and draw others to Christ by their words and example.
7. "I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jr 31,33). God is our only Lord and we are his people. This indissoluble covenant of love between God and humanity was brought to its fulfilment in Christ's paschal sacrifice. It is in him that, despite belonging to different lands and cultures, we become one people, one Church, one and the same spiritual building whose bright and solid stones are the saints.
1129 Let us thank the Lord for the splendid witness of these new blesseds. Let us look to them, especially in this Lenten season, in order to be spurred in our preparation for the forthcoming Easter celebrations.
May Mary, Queen of Confessors, help us to follow her divine Son as did the new blesseds. May you, Mariano de Jesús Euse Hoyos, Francis Xavier Seelos, Anna Rosa Gattorno, Mary Elisabeth Hesselblad, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, intercede for us so that by deeply sharing in Christ's redemptive Passion we can live the fruitfulness of the seed that dies and be received as his harvest in the kingdom of heaven. Amen!
16 April 2000
1. "Benedictus, qui venit in nomine Domini.... Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Mt 21,9 cf. Ps Ps 117 : 26).
In this surging cry we hear an echo of the enthusiastic welcome which the inhabitants of Jerusalem gave Jesus for the feast of Passover. We hear it again each time we sing the Sanctus during Mass.
After saying: "Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua", we add: "Benedictus, qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis".
In this hymn, whose first part is taken from the prophet Isaiah (cf. Is Is 6,3), the "thrice holy" God is exalted. In the second part, we express the assembly's grateful joy at the fulfilment of the messianic promises: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest".
Our thoughts naturally turn to the people of the Covenant who for centuries and generations lived in expectation of the Messiah. Some believed John the Baptist to be the one in whom the promises would be fulfilled. However, as we know, the Precursor answered the explicit question about his possible messianic identity with a clear denial, referring those who questioned him to Jesus.
There was a growing conviction among the people that the messianic times had now arrived, first through the Baptist's testimony, then through the words and signs performed by Jesus, especially because of the raising of Lazarus, which had occurred a few days before the entry into Jerusalem, of which today's Gospel speaks. This is why, when Jesus arrives in the city riding on a young ass, the crowd greets him with a burst of joy: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest" (Mt 21,9).
2. The rites of Palm Sunday reflect the people's joy as they wait for the Messiah but, at the same time, they are characterized as a liturgy "of the passion" in the full sense. Indeed, they open before us the prospect of the now imminent drama, which we have just relived in the account of the Evangelist Mark. The other readings too bring us into the mystery of the Lord's passion and death. The words of the prophet Isaiah, whom some like to see as an Old Testament evangelist, show us the image of a condemned man who is scourged and buffeted (cf. Is Is 50,6). The refrain of the responsorial psalm, "My God, my God why have you forsaken me", has us contemplate the agony of Jesus on the cross (cf. Mk Mc 15,34).
But it is the Apostle Paul who, in the second reading, offers us the deepest analysis of the paschal mystery: Jesus, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant ... he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Ph 2,6-8). In the austere liturgy of Good Friday we will listen again to these words, which continue: "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (ibid., 2: 9-11).
1130 Abasement and exaltation: this is the key to understanding the paschal mystery; this is the key to penetrating God's wonderful plan which is fulfilled in the paschal events.
3. Why are there so many young people present at this solemn liturgy, as there are every year? For some years now Palm Sunday has become the annual feast of young people. From here in 1984, the Year of Youth and, in a certain sense, their jubilee, the pilgrimage of World Youth Days began: passing through Buenos Aires, Santiago de Compostela, Czestochowa, Denver, Manila and Paris, it will return to Rome this August for the World Youth Day of the Holy Year 2000.
Why, then, do so many young people meet on Palm Sunday here in Rome and in every Diocese? There are certainly many reasons and circumstances that can explain this. However, it seems that the most profound motive, underlying all the others, can be identified in what today's liturgy reveals to us: the heavenly Father's mysterious plan of salvation, which is brought about through the abasement and exaltation of his Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. This is the answer to the fundamental questions and anxieties of every man and woman, especially the young.
"For our sake, Christ ... became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him". How significant are these words for our own lives! You are beginning to experience the drama of life, dear young people. You ask yourselves about the meaning of life, your relationship with yourselves, with others and with God. To your heart, thirsting for truth and peace, to your many questions and problems, sometimes even filled with anguish, Christ, the suffering and humiliated Servant, who humbled himself even unto death on a cross and is exalted in glory at the right hand of the Father, offers himself as the only valid answer. In fact, no other response is as simple, complete and convincing.
4. Dear young people, thank you for taking part in this solemn liturgy. With his entry into Jerusalem, Christ begins his journey of love and sorrow, which is the Cross. Look to him with renewed and zealous faith. Follow him! He does not promise illusory happiness; on the contrary, in order for you to achieve authentic human and spiritual maturity, he invites you to follow his demanding example, making his exacting choices your own.
May Mary, the Lord's faithful disciple, accompany you on this journey of conversion and growing intimacy with her divine Son who, as the theme of the forthcoming World Youth Day recalls, "became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1,14). Jesus became poor to enrich us with his poverty; he took on our sins, so that we might be redeemed by his blood shed on the cross. Yes, for us Christ made himself obedient unto death. Unto death on a cross.
"Glory and praise to you, O Christ!".
Holy Thursday, 20 April 2000
1. "To him who ... made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever" (Ap 1,5-6).
We listen to these words from the Book of Revelation at today's solemn Chrism Mass which precedes the Sacred Easter Triduum. Before celebrating the central mysteries of salvation, every diocesan community is gathered this morning around its Bishop for the blessing of the holy oils, which are the instrument of salvation in various sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick. These signs of divine grace draw their effectiveness from the paschal mystery, from the Death and Resurrection of Christ. This is why the Church celebrates this rite on the threshold of the Sacred Triduum, on the day when, by a supreme priestly act, the Son of God made man offered himself to the Father to redeem all humanity.
2. "He has made us a kingdom of priests". We understand this expression at two levels. The first, as the Second Vatican Council also recalls, refers to all the baptized who "are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all their works as Christian people they may offer spiritual sacrifices" (Lumen gentium LG 10). Every Christian is a priest. What is meant here is the priesthood called the "common" priesthood, which commits the baptized to living the sacrifice to God through participation in the Eucharist and the sacraments, the witness of a holy life, self-denial and active charity (cf. ibid.).
S. John Paul II Homil. 1123