S. John Paul II Homil. 934
1. "The love of Christ impels us": Caritas Christi urget nos (2Co 5,14). These words of the Apostle Paul guide us in our meditation during this Eucharistic celebration concluding the work of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Australia and Oceania.
Christ's love spurred the Apostles to every part of the world as evangelization began. It particularly spurred St Paul, called the Apostle of the Nations, because, after his conversion, he brought the Gospel of Christ to many then-known countries. His was the Mediterranean journey of evangelization: from Jerusalem to Rome, through Greece, all the way to Spain.
935 Later, other routes were opened, expanding the horizons of Christian preaching, as those proclaiming the Gospel came into contact with new lands. Evangelization gradually reached North Africa and Europe north of the Alps, the peoples of the Roman Empire, the Germanic peoples and then the Slavs. The baptism of Rus' began the evangelization not only of Eastern Europe but also, as time passed, of the vast territories beyond the Caucasus. Southern Asia had already been reached by the first generation of missionaries, one of whom was St Thomas, the Apostle of the Indies, according to a tradition very dear to the Christian Communities of that great country.
2. The evangelization of Australia and Oceania took place later, when the great navigators reached that part of the world more distant from Europe. With them, the missionaries came to those lands, bringing the Gospel and often confirming its divine truth by their martyrdom. We need only mention, among others, St Peter Chanel.
We have had the opportunity to re-live all this during these weeks of the Special Assembly for Oceania of the Synod of Bishops. We have tried to do so together Bishops, priests, men and women religious and laity mindful of the words of St Paul: caritas Christi urget nos. The general theme guiding us has been: "Jesus Christ and the Peoples of Oceania: Walking His Way, Telling His Truth, Living His Life".
The Year 2000 is fast approaching and before us lies the great event of the Holy Year. Soon we will celebrate the Jubilee marking the second millennium of Christ's birth, which also recalls the beginnings of the Gospel and of the Church. With the birth of Jesus, the Trinitarian mystery of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, entered into human history, in order to make man a new creature in Jesus Christ. In Christ there appeared before the world the great law of love proclaimed in today's liturgy: the new law of the Beatitudes, which we just heard in the Gospel.
As the Year 2000 approaches tertio millennio adveniente the Church has become a pilgrim, traveling along the paths of the whole world. She feels a deep need to reflect and in some way to rediscover herself along those paths where the Gospel has journeyed and even "run", revealing Love by the power of Christ's Spirit. Along the paths of the past the history of salvation continues to advance.
3. The Synod which ends today, like the previous Special Assemblies dedicated to the various continents, corresponds precisely to this goal. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (He 13,8). In reaffirming this, we would like to transmit to the centuries to come and the generations to follow the rich heritage of the evangelization of Oceania. These peoples must, in fact, share fully in the love of Christ which once spurred the heralds of the Good News along all the paths of the world, where they encountered new peoples and new nations who were also called to become heirs to the kingdom of God.
Dear Synod Fathers who are members of this Assembly for Australia and Oceania, I address you with affection and thank you for the work you have done and especially for the witness of communion you have given to me and to the entire Church. I would like to thank Cardinal Schotte and the staff of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops for their service to the particular Churches.
You have come from Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific islands, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, bringing the spiritual wealth of your peoples as well as the problems they encounter. In fact, how can we not point out that even in your societies religion faces threats and attempts to isolate it? How can we not stress that at times some people would like to reduce it to an individual experience that can have no influence on social life? You have spoken about the consequences of colonization and immigration, the living conditions of ethnic minorities and the faith problems of young people. The challenges of modernity and secularization were also highlighted; they require pastoral concern and charity in various areas: vocations, justice and peace, the family, ecclesial communion, Catholic education, sacramental life, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.
4. You have dialogued with one another and have united around the basic theme: Jesus Christ is also the way to follow, the truth to proclaim and the life to live for the peoples of Oceania. The new evangelization follows this programme throughout the world and is carried out in generous co-operation with the Holy Spirit, who renews the face of the earth (cf. Ps Ps 103,30). Dear friends, in greeting each of you with an embrace of peace, I entrust the Churches in Oceania to the Lord, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and I address them with the words of the prophet Isaiah:
"Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise from the end of the earth:
936 Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the coastlands, and those who dwell
in them" (Is 42,10).
May Mary, Mother of the Church, accompany you. May the love of Christ impel you and remain with you always.
1. "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near" (Entrance antiphon).
It is from this pressing invitation to rejoice, which characterizes today's liturgy, that the Third Sunday of Advent, traditionally called "Gaudete" Sunday, takes its name. This is actually the first word of today's Mass in Latin: "Gaudete", that is, rejoice, be glad because the Lord is near!
The Gospel text helps us to understand the reason for our joy, as it underscores the great mystery of salvation that takes place at Christmas. The Evangelist Matthew speaks to us of Jesus, "he who is to come" (Mt 11,3), who reveals himself as the awaited Messiah through his saving work: "the blind receive their sight and the lame walk ... the poor have good news preached to them" (Mt 11,5). He comes to console, to restore serenity and hope to the suffering, to those tired and discouraged in life.
There are still many, even in our day, who are enveloped in the darkness of ignorance and have not received the light of faith; many are lame and have difficulty in walking on the right paths; many are disappointed or discouraged; many are affected by the leprosy of sin and evil and are waiting to be saved. It is to all these that the "good news" of the Gospel, entrusted to the Christian community, is addressed. The Church, on the threshold of the third millennium, vigorously proclaims that Christ is the true liberator of man, the one who leads all humanity back to the paternal and merciful embrace of God.
2. "Be strong, fear not! Behold your God ... he will come and save you" (Is 35,4).
937 Dear brothers and sisters of St Julie Billiart Parish, in greeting you with great affection, I make my own the words of the prophet Isaiah proclaimed a few moments ago: "Be strong, fear not ... your God will come and save you!". These words are the wish I extend to all those God grants me to meet in every part of the world. They summarize what I also wish to tell you this morning. My presence is meant as an invitation to courage, to perseverance in giving an account of the hope that is in each of you because of faith.
"Courage!". Do not be afraid of the difficulties you meet in proclaiming the Gospel. Sustained by the grace of the Lord, do not tire of being apostles of Christ in our city which, even though threatened by the numerous risks of secularization typical of a large metropolis, still has Christian roots and from these it can draw the spiritual nourishment to respond to the challenges of our time. The positive fruits that the City Mission is bearing, for which we thank the Lord, are a strong encouragement to continue the work of the new evangelization without hesitation.
With these sentiments I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Vicegerent, your parish priest, Fr Adriano Graziani of the Sons of Mary Immaculate (Pavonians) and his brothers who share responsibility with him for guiding the community. My cordial greeting goes also to the members of the pastoral council and to all those belonging to the groups, associations and movements that work in the parish. I would like gratefully to mention the late parish priest, Fr Fortunato Dellandrea, who greatly loved the parish and worked so hard to build this new church where we are today. Together with him, we wish to remember all the deceased of the community, whom we entrust to God's mercy.
3. Your community was founded in 1976, after being broken off from the highly populated parish of St Barnabas the Apostle. It too is entrusted to the pastoral care of the Pavonian Fathers. Populated mainly by people who came in the 1960s from central and southern Italy, the neighbourhood of Torpignattara underwent great expansion until, in the last decade, many young people married and moved away.
Just as in other outlying areas, where suitable places for gathering, instruction and recreation are lacking, here too the parish is the only centre for social activities. For this reason it has been rightly provided with a beautiful new church and facilities for apostolic and community activities.
On this day, dedicated to the collection for the building of new churches, I give thanks to God for the construction of new centres essential for worship on the outskirts of the city. At the same time, I invite all the faithful to collaborate generously in the important ecclesial work known as "Fifty Churches for Rome 2000".
Furthermore, here, as in other neighbourhoods, many difficulties are encountered in educating children, adolescents and young people in the faith. I also know that your parish is responding to this challenge with a renewed family ministry. I congratulate you and urge you to carry on this project of supporting families, especially those in difficulty, so that the younger generation may find, precisely within a healthy family environment, help in making mature decisions about their faith and Christian life.
Never tire of welcoming young people and offering them special times for formation, especially when they cannot, unfortunately, count on the support of their families. In these cases, the parish community is called to intervene with the help of persons who are ready to listen to their questions and respond to their existential and religious expectations.
4. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he sent me to bring Good News to the poor". These words of the Gospel acclamation are well suited to the City Mission, which has entered its final phase and in which all Christians are encouraged to bring the Gospel to the various areas of the city. Last Tuesday, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Letter I addressed to them was published. In it I emphasized that "the quality of the workplace depends primarily on individuals. It is their efforts that can make it a vital place for collaboration, communion and relationships marked by respect and mutual esteem, by cooperation and solidarity, and by a witness consistent with the moral values of their own profession. As Scripture recalls: "A brother helped by a brother is like a strong city" (Pr 18,19)" (n. 6).
This morning, as I symbolically entrust my Letter to you and to all the parishes of Rome, I sincerely hope that all Christians will be aware of the urgent need to transmit to others, but especially to young people, those Gospel values that promote the "civilization of love".
5. "Be patient ... until the coming of the Lord" (Jc 5,7). With the message of joy characteristic of this "Gaudete" Sunday, the liturgy combines the invitation to have patience and to wait vigilantly for the coming of the Saviour, who is now close at hand.
938 In this regard we must know how to accept and face difficulties and adversity with a glad heart, while patiently waiting for the Saviour who comes. Eloquent is the example of the farmer that the Letter of St James offers us. He "waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain". "You also be patient", the Apostle continues, "establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (Jc 5,7-8).
Let us open our spirit to this invitation; let us go forward with joy towards the mystery of Christmas. May Mary, who silently and prayerfully awaited the Redeemer's birth, help us to make our hearts a dwelling place to receive him worthily.
1. “The Lord is near to those who seek him” (Resp. Psalm, Italian Lectionary).
The words of the responsorial psalm recall the meaning of Advent and emphasize the attitude we must have if we are fully to live this liturgical season. The message is particularly significant for those who are led by their faith and professional commitment to make this search an important dimension of their lives.
Today, this message is addressed especially to you, distinguished and beloved representatives of the universities of Rome and Italy: rectors, teachers and students, ever more numerous at this traditional Advent gathering in preparation for the holy feast of Christmas. I extend a cordial welcome to you all. I greet the Minister for Universities and Scientific Research and the other academic authorities; I greet the delegation of administrators who are attending this gathering for the first time. I thank the rector and the student who, in a certain sense, have spoken in the name of the whole Roman and Italian academic community.
2. Our gathering takes place in the liturgical season of Advent, which offers profound and inspiring messages. Before the Lord who is now close at hand — “Dominus prope!” (Ph 4,5) — and to the King whom we must worship — “Regem venturum, dominum, venite adoremus” (From the Roman Breviary) — we must let ourselves be challenged by the great questions of life. These questions, which are always timely, concern man’s origins and his end. These are questions which were asked by the Second Vatican Council in the Constitution Gaudium et spes. These questions constantly accompany us and, indeed, it could be said that they are always with us. Who am I? Where do I come from and where am I going? What is the meaning of my life and of my being a human creature? Why do I have this eternal “restlessness” in me, as St Augustine liked to call it? Why must I constantly fulfil the requirements of morality, distinguish good from evil, do good and avoid and vanquish evil? These are questions no one can avoid. Sacred Scripture, starting with the Book of Genesis, offers exhaustive answers to them. And these answers represent in some way the content of the Church’s Advent, which makes the past present and directs us to the future.
“The Lord is near to those who seek him”, today’s liturgy says, opening fascinating horizons for us. “Near” and “far” are categories linked to distances that can be measured in space, hours, years, centuries and millenniums. However, the context of Advent invites us to consider the profound spiritual dimension of this distance, that is, its reference to God. What is it and how is it possible to perceive nearness or farness from God? Is it not in man’s “restless heart” that the spiritual dimension of God’s nearness or distance is most perceptibly and appropriately revealed?
3. Man is all this: visibility and mystery, nearness and distance from God, fragile possession and continuous searching. Only by understanding these inner co-ordinates of the human being can we understand Advent as a time of waiting for the Messiah.
Who is the Messiah, Redeemer of the world? Why does he come and in what does his coming consist? Once again, to penetrate this movement we must refer to the Book of Genesis. It reveals to us that it is sin and its entry into history which created the distance between man and God, eloquently symbolized by the expulsion of Adam and Eve, our first parents, from earthly paradise.
939 God himself then shows that man's distance created by sin is not irreversible. Indeed, he urges humanity to await the Anointed One, who will come through the power of the Holy Spirit to confront evil, indeed, the prince of lies. The Book of Genesis expressly announces that he is the Son of woman and invites us to await him and to prepare to receive him worthily. In explaining and expanding the announcement, the later books of the Old Covenant, speak of the Messiah who will be born in Israel, the people chosen by God from among all the peoples.
As “the fullness of time” (Ga 4,4) approaches, its expectation is fulfilled and its meaning and value are better and better understood. With John the Baptist, this waiting becomes a concrete question, which the followers of the Precursor ask Christ: “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Lc 7,19). This same question will be put to him many times. We know that Christ's answer was the cause of his death and crucifixion, but we can say indirectly that it was also the cause of his resurrection, of the full manifestation of his Messiahship. This is what is known as salvation history. In this marvellous way the promise made to humanity after the original sin would be fulfilled.
4. Dear brothers and sisters, the Advent season is given to us so that once again we can make this question our own: “Are you the Messiah? Are you the Son of God?”. It is not simply a question of imitating the disciples of John the Baptist or of repeating the past; on the contrary, we must intensely experience the questions and hopes of our day.
Daily experience and the events of every age show that humanity and each individual are always awaiting the answer Christ gives. Christ advances in history; he reaches out to us as the awaited fulfilment of human history. We will find the definitive answer to the question haunting the human spirit about the Messiah's coming only in him who fills the fleeting horizon of time and earthly realities, however marvellous and attractive.
For you, dear students and distinguished teachers, waiting for Christ must also be translated into a daily quest for the truth that illumines the paths of life in all its expressions. Truth then spurs us to love, to the authentic witness that transforms one's personal life and the very structures of society.
Biblical revelation clearly stresses the profound, intrinsic link between truth and love, when it urges us to “speak the truth in love” (Ep 4,15), and especially when Jesus, who reveals the Father, says: “I am the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14,16).
It is in love that we reach the summit of the knowledge of God, that love which illumines and transforms the human heart with the Truth of Christ. Man needs love; he needs truth, if he is not to squander the fragile treasure of freedom.
5. In the university we find a living sign of the Gospel in the chapel. I am pleased to see that more and more of them are being established in the city's various university centres. This evening I wish to given each and every one of them the cross of the City Mission. Dear friends, love the university chaplaincies, willingly give your support to the many important pastoral activities that are continually offered there.
Here I wish to express my appreciation to those teachers who are devoting time and energy to preparing the Jubilee of University Teachers and to those who are actively working on the World Day of Youth in the Year 2000, after the one in Paris. I am also pleased to see that cultural groups are being formed in the various faculties, and I hope that they will serve the Word which, sown in the most daring fields of research, makes them bear fruit for mankind's benefit.
I likewise pray that the programme of university catecheses on the Our Father, which are becoming more intensive in this year of the Mission dedicated to the various milieus, will help every believer to deepen his sense of being called to be a Gospel leaven in the university world.
6. “Regem venturum, Dominum, venite adoremus”!
940 The Advent season, especially the Christmas Novena which we will begin tomorrow, spurs us to turn our gaze to the Lord who comes. It is the certainty of his glorious return which gives meaning to our waiting and to our daily work. As we look at him with the inner attitude of Mary, the Virgin who listens, our daily efforts, sometimes difficult and tiring, are invigorated and our diligent searching becomes fruitful.
“The Lord is near to those who seek him!”, the liturgy tells us again and again in these days. Let us turn our eyes to him and call upon him:
Come, Lord Jesus! Come, Redeemer of man! Come to save us!
Dominus prope: the Lord is near to those who seek him!
Come, let us adore him!
Christmas, 24 December 1998
1. “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy... For to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lc 2,10-11).
On this Holy Night, the Liturgy invites us to celebrate with joy the great event of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. As we have just heard in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is born into a family poor by material standards, but rich in joy. He is born in a stable, for there is no place for him in the inn (cf. Lk Lc 2,7); he is placed in a manger, for there is no cradle for him; he comes into the world completely helpless, without anyone’s knowledge, and yet he is welcomed and recognized first by the shepherds, who hear from the angel the news of his birth.
The event conceals a mystery. It is revealed by the choirs of heavenly messengers who sing of Jesus’ birth and proclaim glory “to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased” (Lc 2,14). Through the ages their praise becomes a prayer which rises from the hearts of the throngs who on Christmas Night continue to welcome the Son of God.
2. Mysterium: event and mystery. A man is born, who is the Eternal Son of the Almighty Father, the Creator of heaven and earth: in this extraordinary event the mystery of God is revealed. In the Word who becomes man the miracle of the Incarnate God is made manifest. The mystery sheds light on the event of the birth: a baby is adored by the shepherds in the lowly stable, at Bethlehem. He is “the Savior of the world”, “Christ the Lord” (cf. Lk Lc 2,11). Their eyes see a newborn child, wrapped in swaddling cloths and placed in a manger, and in that “sign”, thanks to the inner light of faith, they recognize the Messiah proclaimed by the Prophets.
941 3. This is Emmanuel, God-with-us, who comes to fill the earth with grace. He comes into the world in order to transform creation. He becomes a man among men, so that in him and through him every human being can be profoundly renewed. By his birth he draws us all into the sphere of the divine, granting to those who in faith open themselves to receiving his gift the possibility of sharing in his own divine life.
This is the meaning of the salvation which the shepherds hear proclaimed that night in Bethlehem: “To you is born a Saviour” (Lc 2,11). The coming of Christ among us is the centre of history, which thereafter takes on a new dimension. In a way, it is God himself who writes history by entering into it. The event of the Incarnation thus broadens to embrace the whole of human history, from creation until the Second Coming. This is why in the Liturgy all creation sings, voicing its own joy: the floods clap their hands, all the trees of the wood sing for joy, and the many coastlands are glad (cf. Ps Ps 98,8).
Every creature on the face of the earth receives the proclamation. In the astonished silence of the universe, the words which the Liturgy puts on the lips of the Church take on a cosmic resonance: Christus natus est nobis. Venite, adoremus!
4. Christ is born for us; come, let us adore him! My thoughts already turn to Christmas next year when, God willing, I shall inaugurate the Great Jubilee with the opening of the Holy Door. It will be a truly great Holy Year, for in a completely unique way it will celebrate the two thousandth anniversary of the event and mystery of the Incarnation, in which humanity reached the apex of its calling. God became man in order to give man a share in his own divinity.
This is the good news of salvation; this is the message of Christmas! The Church proclaims it tonight, by means of my words too, for the peoples and nations of the whole earth to hear: Christus natus est nobis - Christ is born for us. Venite, adoremus! Come, let us adore him!
Thursday, 31 December 1998
1. The Church in Rome and in every part of the world gathers this evening to sing the Te Deum, as the year 1998 draws to a close.
Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
We now stand on the threshold of 1999, the year that will take us into the Great Jubilee: it is dedicated to the heavenly Father, according to the Trinitarian programme which marks these last three years of the 20th century and the second millennium. The Trinitarian cadence of the Christian's daily life is echoed in the formula which ends every liturgical prayer: "Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever".
God the Father, ineffable mystery, was revealed to us through his Son, Jesus Christ, who was born, died and rose for us and sanctifies us by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Te Deum we solemnly acclaim the Blessed Trinity with the venerable words of a long tradition:
942 Patrem immensae maiestatis; venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium; Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Father of life and holiness, our Father, who art in heaven! Father whom "... no one knows except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Mt 11,27).
He is the Father of Jesus Christ and our Father.
2. The biblical text we have just heard reminds us that, in addition to sending us his Only-begotten Son "in the fullness of time", God has also "sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"" (Ga 4,4-7).
Abba! Father! In these words, which the Spirit instils in the hearts of believers, we hear the echo of Jesus' invocation, just as the disciples heard it on his own lips. By making them our own, we become keenly aware of the reality of our adoption as sons in Christ, the eternal and Only-begotten Son of the Father, made man in Mary's womb.
This evening, as we greet the end of 1998, we come before the Father to thank him for all the good he has bestowed on us during the past 12 months. We come to him to ask forgiveness for our sins and for those of others, and to proclaim with trusting abandonment: "Holy God, Holy and Strong, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us!". We say to him:
"Blessed are you, Lord,
Father in heaven,
who, in your infinite mercy,
stooped down to us in our distress
and gave us Jesus, your Son,
born of a woman,
943 to be our saviour and friend,
our brother and Redeemer"
(Prayer for the Third Year of Preparation for the Great Jubilee).
3. During this moment of prayer, my thoughts turn with particular affection to the residents of our city. I entrust them to the Lord, along with their families, parishes and public institutions. I pray especially for those weighed down by hardship and suffering, who find it difficult to look at the new year with hope. I extend my cordial greetings of peace and goodwill for 1999, now at our door, to everyone.
I would also like affectionately to greet those who are attending this traditional spiritual gathering at year's end, beginning with the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishops of Rome and the other prelates who have wished to join us for this celebration. I extend a special greeting to Fr Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, and to the Jesuit Fathers to whose care is entrusted this church filled with memories of holiness.
I express my deep gratitude to the Mayor of Rome and the members of the Capitoline Administration for their participation and for their gift of a votive chalice, as I recall with great joy the visit the Lord granted me to make to the Capitoline at the beginning of 1998. I extend my greetings to the Prefect of Rome, who took up this important responsibility a few days ago, to the President of the Regional Board of Lazio and to all the civil, military and religious authorities who have gathered here.
4. How should we thank God for the abundant gifts he has given us during the year now drawing to a close? I would like to give him special thanks this evening, together with you, for what he has accomplished in our diocesan community. I am thinking of my parish visits, valuable and enriching occasions for fruitful pastoral gatherings. Over the past 20 years I have visited 278 parishes, finding fervent faith and good works in each of them, thanks to the efforts of the priests, religious and lay people from Rome or from other parts of Italy and the world.
I thank the Lord for the City Mission, which this year has been especially marked by visits to families. Going into homes, the missionaries received a positive welcome on the whole, and found significant evidence of faith even among those who are not regular church-goers. I hope that these pastoral contacts with each family will be followed up with house blessings or other suitable activities that have already borne fruit in many Roman parishes.
This evening I would like to give thanks to the Lord especially for the thousands of missionaries who have been working now for two years and are a providential resource for giving a growing apostolic thrust to diocesan ministry, particularly in view of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
A year from now we will have already entered the Holy Year and numerous pilgrims will be arriving from every corner of the world. I deeply hope that they will be welcomed by a Church which is alive and rich in religious fervour, a Church which is generous and sensitive to the requirements of her brothers and sisters, especially the poorest and neediest.
5. Looking over the past year, I cannot fail to remember the hardships and problems which in Rome, too, have marked the lives of many of our brothers and sisters. I am thinking of the families who are struggling to make ends meet; of minors in difficulty and young people with no prospects for the future; of the sick, the elderly and those who live alone; of the neglected, the homeless and those who feel rejected by society. May the new year bring them serenity and hope. Thanks to broad collaboration and to social, economic and political trends that are more open to initiative and change, attitudes of ever greater trust and creativity will be encouraged in the city.
944 In a special way, I would like to invite believers once again to continue their commitment to reflection and planning, so that Rome, "by relying on its spiritual and civil mission and making the most of its human, cultural and religious heritage, can further its civil and economic development to the benefit of the whole Italian nation and the world" (Letter on the Gospel of Work, 8 December 1998, n. 8). I hope that our metropolis will be deeply renewed in all the dimensions of her social and spiritual life for the forthcoming Jubilee.
6. This hope of mine becomes a prayer that the Lord will make everyone's efforts bear fruit. To him we commend all our desires and plans. To him we offer our praise and our filial, trusting prayer:
"To you, Father of life,
eternal source of all that is,
highest good and everlasting light,
be honour and glory, praise and thanksgiving,
with the Son and with the Spirit,
for ages unending. Amen"
(Prayer for the Third Year of Preparation for the Great Jubilee).
S. John Paul II Homil. 934