S. John Paul II Homil. 994
995 Sunday, 30 May 1999
1. “Glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: to God who is, who was and who is to come” (Gospel acclamation; cf. Rv Ap 1,8).
We praise God for the providential coincidence of these two events, different in intent but convergent in meaning, that we are celebrating today: the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity and the 1,000th anniversary of your cathedral.
This splendid building, which overlooks the city from the top of a hill, is really a symbol of the People of God in the Ancona region, who have been brought into unity, to use St Cyprian's vivid expression, “from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (De Orat. Dom., 23: PL 4, 553). Thus as we celebrate the cathedral's 1,000 years, we are also celebrating the marvels of grace and love that in 10 centuries of history the Holy Trinity has poured out upon generations of Christians in this region who have believed in the Gospel and have striven to live it.
With this awareness our liturgical assembly, gathered in this festively decorated stadium, cries out in joy: “Blessed be God the Father and his only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit: for he has shown that he loves us”.
2. God's love for each of us is truly great! Great is God's love for each of you, dear brothers and sisters of Ancona, and your beautiful cathedral dedicated to St Cyriacus is a tangible sign of it.
Viewed from the outside, with its elevated position over the city, it symbolizes well the reassuring presence of the Trinitarian God, who from on high guides and protects the life of human beings. At the same time, the cathedral is a powerful reminder to look upwards, to rise above the routine of daily life and from everything that weighs down earthly existence, to fix our gaze on heaven in a continual pursuit of spiritual values. It is, so to speak, the meeting-point of two movements: the descending movement of God's love for humanity and the ascending movement of the human longing for communion with God, the source of joy and peace.
3. “Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and glorious above all forever”. I am pleased to greet you, dear brothers and sisters, with this invocation of the responsorial psalm, as I recall with gratitude to divine Providence the 1,000 years of your magnificent cathedral. We are commemorating a millennium rich in history, religious and cultural traditions, and active Christian life interwoven with the vicissitudes of the city and the region.
I affectionately greet everyone present, beginning with your Pastor, dear Archbishop Franco Festorazzi, whom I thank for the cordial words he spoke to me in your name at the start of our celebration. With him I greet the prelates of the Marches, the Archbishop of Zara and the other Bishops present. I extend a respectful greeting to the Vice-President of the Council of Ministers, who is here representing the Italian Government, to the Mayor of Ancona, the Prefect, the President of the region and the civil and military authorities who have wanted to honour this solemn anniversary by with their presence.
I also extend an affectionate greeting to the priests, religious and laity who are actively involved in the apostolate, with a special mention of the pilgrims who have come from other areas to celebrate this historic occasion with us, especially the group of Croatian and Bosnian faithful.
Dear faithful of the Archdiocese of Ancona-Osimo, I embrace you all spiritually and thank you for the gracious welcome you have given me, marked by the sensitivity and warmth that are so traditional in the Marches.
996 4. We have just heard the words of the Apostle Paul: “Brethren, rejoice. Strive for perfection. Encourage one another. Live in harmony and peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2Co 13,11). I address these same words to you, brothers and sisters, with heartfelt warmth and affection.
First of all to you, young people! With St Paul I say to you: “Strive for perfection”! Such a demanding invitation presumes that its recipients are capable of enthusiasm. It this not typical of people your age? So I say to you: know how to think big! Have the courage to dare! With God's help, “strive for perfection”! God has a plan of holiness for each of you.
With you today is the “Young People's Cross” which has accompanied the Church's most important youth gatherings since the Holy Year of 1984. The Cross invites you to bear courageous witness to the faith you have inherited from Stephen, Cyriacus and Leopardus, the patrons of your communities. Be ready to carry on the new evangelization and to enter the third millennium with the victorious Cross of Christ.
5. “Live in harmony”. Dear families, and especially you, dear young couples, accept this invitation to be of one heart and to live in full communion with God. He is calling you to be families that are open to life and love, able to impart hope and trust in the future in the face of a society which sometimes seems to lack them.
“Rejoice!”, the Apostle Paul says again to you today. For Christians, the deepest reason for inner joy is found in God's Word and in his unfailing love. Strengthened by this knowledge, the Church continues on her pilgrimage and proclaims to all: “The God of love and peace will be with you”.
6. My gaze extends now across your city which, overlooking the Adriatic Sea, has always been, so to speak, a “bridgehead” to the East. Ancona's history is steeped in apostolic daring and missionary spirit. One need only think of St Stephen Protomartyr, to whom the first cathedral was dedicated, and of Primianus, Greek by birth and the city's first Bishop. And then there is St Cyriacus, whom we recall in a special way during these millennial celebrations of the cathedral dedicated to him: he came from Jerusalem. Liberius was Armenian and the martyrs of Osimo — Florentius, Sisinius and Diocletius — also came from the East. Your city truly looks out upon a vast horizon!
A transit point for merchants and pilgrims, for centuries Ancona has experienced the peaceful coexistence of Greek and Armenian communities, which built their own places of worship and established relations of mutual respect and cooperation with the Catholic community. Let us thank God that down the centuries the Church in Ancona has acquired a cosmopolitan character and has fostered a burning missionary zeal, eloquent proof of which is the work done in China by Bishop Antonio Maria Saccone and by Bishop Riccardini in the Middle East.
This spiritual heritage has never been interrupted and continues to bear fruit. Proof of this, among others, is the missionary cooperation that the Archdiocese offers the Ecclesial Community of Anatuja, Argentina. I am sure that your Church will be open to new, promising horizons, instilling in all the Christian people of Ancona a renewed apostolic zeal for service to the Gospel. This will be one of the most significant results from the jubilee celebrations of your cathedral.
7. “Live in peace”, St Paul advises. Dear friends, the cathedral is a symbol of the Church's unity. Here in Ancona too, as in neighbouring Osimo, it has been a place for the whole city to praise God, the site of renewed harmony between the moments of worship and civic life, the reference-point for restoring peace to hearts.
Prompted by memory, you want to live this present moment of history. Just as your ancestors were able to build a splendid church of stone to be a sign and call to communion of life, it is your task to make the meaning of this sacred building visible and credible by living peaceably in the ecclesial and civil community.
Mindful of the past and attentive to the present, but also looking to the future, you Christians of the Archdiocese of Ancona-Osimo know that the spiritual progress of your ecclesial communities and the very promotion of the common good of your civil communities calls for arduous effort and an ever more vital involvement of your parishes and associations in the region. May the road you have traveled thus far and the faith that motivates you give you the courage and enthusiasm to continue.
997 8. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2Co 13,13): these were the Apostle Paul's closing wishes to the Christians of Corinth. Today the Successor of Peter would like to extend this same Trinitarian wish to your community as you celebrate the millennium of your cathedral.
Christians of Ancona, emulate your ancestors and be a living Church of Gospel service! A hospitable and generous Church, whose persevering witness can give vital expression to God's love for every human being, especially for the needy and the suffering. I know that this is your commitment. It is demonstrated by, among other things, a project that the Church in Ancona is undertaking in remembrance of the millennial celebrations: the remodeling of the Annunziata complex, which will be used for services of solidarity and for the pastoral care of young people. The Pope praises you for this and encourages you.
May Mary, whom you venerate in your cathedral with the beautiful title of “Queen of All Saints”, watch from the top of the hill over each of you and the people of the sea.
And you, Queen of Saints, Queen of Peace, hear our prayer: make us credible witnesses of your Son Jesus and tireless peacemakers. Amen!
1. Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem! Zion, praise your Saviour!
Praise your Saviour, Christian community of Rome gathered in front of this cathedral basilica dedicated to Christ the Saviour and to his Precursor, John the Baptist! Praise him, because "he makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat" (Responsorial Ps 147,14).
The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is a feast of praise and thanksgiving. On this day the Christian people gather round the altar to contemplate and adore the Eucharistic Mystery, the memorial of the sacrifice of Christ who has brought everyone salvation and peace. This year our solemn celebration and, in a while, the traditional procession which will take us from this square to St Mary Major have a specific aim: they are meant as a heartfelt and unanimous prayer for peace.
As we adore the Body of the One who is our Head, how can we not show our solidarity with his members who are suffering because of war? Yes, dear brothers and sisters, Romans and pilgrims, this evening we want to pray together for peace, especially for peace in the Balkans. May the Word of God, which we have just heard, enlighten and guide us.
2. In the first reading the Lord's command resounded: "Remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you" (Dt 8,2). "Remember ..."! This is the first word. It is not an invitation, but a command that the Lord gives his people before leading them into the promised land. He commands them not to forget.
To have peace, which sums up all the good things promised by God, it is first necessary not to forget past experiences but to treasure them. From errors, too, we can learn a lesson to give better direction to our journey.
998 In looking at this century and the end of this millennium, how could we forget the terrible sufferings endured by humanity? We must not forget: on the contrary, we must remember. God our Father, help us to learn the right lessons from our history and that of those who have gone before us!
3. History speaks of great yearning for peace, but also of the recurring disappointments humanity has had to suffer amid tears and blood. John XXIII, the Pope of Pacem in terris, died precisely today, 3 June, 36 years ago. What a unanimous chorus of praise welcomed that document which outlined the principles for building true peace in the world! But in recent years, how many times have we had to witness the outbreak of violent warfare in one part of the world or another.
The believer, however, does not give up. He knows he can always count on God's help. In this regard, Jesus' words at the Last Supper sound particularly eloquent: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (Jn 14,27). Today we want once again to welcome and understand these words in depth. Let us enter into the spirit of the Upper Room to contemplate Christ, who under the appearances of bread and wine gives his Body and his Blood, anticipating Calvary in this sacrament. This is how he gave us peace. St Paul would later remark: "He is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility ... through the cross" (Ep 2,14).
In giving himself, Christ gave us peace. His peace is not that of the world, often made of shrewdness and compromises, and of oppression and violence. Christ's peace is the fruit of his Passover, that is, the fruit of his sacrifice which uproots hatred and violence and reconciles human beings with God and with one another; it is the trophy of his victory over sin and death, of his peaceful war against the evil of the world, a war fought and won with the weapons of truth and love.
4. It is not by chance that this greeting is frequently heard on the lips of the risen Christ. Appearing to the Apostles, he first shows the signs in his hands and side of the hard struggle he endured, and then he greets them: "Peace be with you!" (Jn 20,19, 21, 26). He communicates his peace to the disciples as a precious gift, not to keep jealously hidden, but to share with others through their witness.
This evening, dear friends, as we carry the Eucharist, the sacrament of Christ our Passover in procession through the streets of Rome, we will be bringing the message of that peace which he left us and which the world cannot give. As we walk, we will ask ourselves about our personal witness to peace. It is not enough, in fact, to speak of peace if we do not strive to foster sentiments of peace in our hearts and to express them in our daily relations with those who live around us.
We will carry the Eucharist in procession and raise our heartfelt prayers to the "Prince of Peace" for the neighbouring land of the Balkans, where already too much innocent blood has been shed and where too many violations have been committed against the dignity and rights of individuals and peoples.
Our prayer this evening is strengthened by the hopeful prospects which are finally emerging.
5. "The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (Jn 6,51). In the Gospel passage we have just heard, these words of Jesus have helped us understand what the source of true peace is. Christ is our peace, the "bread" offered for the life of the world. He is the "bread" which God the Father prepared, so that humanity might have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn Jn 10,10).
God did not spare his Son, but gave him as the salvation of all, as the Bread we must eat if we wish to have life. Christ's words are clear: to have life it is not enough to believe in God; it is necessary to dwell in him (cf. Jas Jc 2,14). This is why the Word was made flesh, died and rose and gave us his Spirit; this is why he left us the Eucharist, so that we could live on him as he lives on the Father. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the gift Christ made of himself for us: he is the sacrament of love and peace, which is the fullness of life.
6. "Living bread, who gives life!".
999 Lord Jesus, before you, our Passover and our peace, we commit ourselves to non-violently opposing man's violence against man.
Prostrate at your feet, O Christ, today we want to share the bread of hope with our brothers and sisters in despair; the bread of peace with our brothers and sisters tortured by ethnic cleansing and war; the bread of life with our brothers and sisters threatened each day by weapons of destruction and death.
O Christ, we want to share the living Bread of your peace with the innocent and most defenceless victims.
"We offer you this sacrifice of praise for ourselves and those who are dear to us" (Roman Canon), so that you, O Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, may be for us, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the source of life, love and peace.
Saturday, 5 June 1999
1. “I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again” (Ph 1,25-26). Paul tells us this in today’s Liturgy; the words are from the Letter to the Philippians, but they ring out in a splendid way here, in the footsteps of Adalbert. Rather than Paul speaking to the Philippians, it is as if Adalbert were speaking to us Poles.
The echo of this voice is constantly heard in this land where the Patron of the Church of Gdansk suffered death by martyrdom. "Christ for him was everything, and death a gain" (cf. Phil Ph 1,21). In 997 he reached Gdansk, where he proclaimed the Gospel and administered Holy Baptism. Saint Adalbert glorified Christ by his fervent life and heroic death. During my earlier pilgrimage to Gniezno, at the tomb of Saint Adalbert, I said that he followed Christ “as a faithful and generous servant, bearing witness to him at the cost of his very life. And behold, the Father has honoured him. The people of God surrounded him on earth with the veneration reserved to a saint, in the conviction that a martyr of Christ in heaven is surrounded with glory ... His death by martyrdom ... is at the foundation of the Polish Church and in a certain sense of the Polish State itself (Homily in Gniezno, 3 June 1997). Two years after his death, the Church proclaimed Adalbert a saint and today, in celebrating this Most Holy Sacrifice, I commemorate the millennium of his canonization.
2. I thank God for being able to be with you once more and to join you in celebrating this jubilee. This is a great day which the Lord in his goodness has given us. I am pleased to have the opportunity to re-visit the historic and beautiful city of Gdank. I greet its people and the whole Archdiocese, as well as the people of Sopot, Gdynia and other cities and towns. I greet Archbishop Tadeusz, the Pastor of this Church, the Auxiliary Bishop, the priests, the consecrated persons and all taking part in this Holy Eucharist. With veneration I recall the late Bishops Nowicki and Kaczmarek, who carried out their pastoral ministry in this Church during difficult times. I vividly recall my meeting twelve years ago with this city and its people, especially with the sick in the Marian basilica and with the workers in Zaspa near Gdansk, and also with the young people in Westerplatte and the seamen at Gdynia. I carry all this in the depths of my heart. From the viewpoint of history, how different those times were! Other experiences and other challenges were then confronting the nation. At that time I spoke to you, but in a certain sense I was also speaking in your name. Today things are different. I am moved as I remember those times, conscious of the great things which since then have come about in our homeland. “New things have come”, they have come to this land, and Adalbert was an essential part of them.
The blood he shed produces ever new spiritual fruits. Adalbert is that evangelical seed which fell to the earth and died, and has brought forth a manifold harvest in all the nations associated with his mission. This was the case of Bohemia, Hungary, the Poland of the Piast, and also of Pomerania, Gdansk, and the people living in this region. After the thousand years which separate us from his death on the Baltic, we are becoming ever more fully aware that the blood of this martyr, shed in these territories ten centuries ago, made an essential contribution to evangelization, faith, a new life. How great is our need today to follow the example of his life devoted completely to God and to the spread of the Gospel. His witness of service and apostolic fervour was profoundly rooted in faith and love of Christ. Of Saint Adalbert we can say with the Psalmist: “His soul constantly thirsted for God, he longed for him like an empty, dry land without water” (cf. Ps Ps 63,2).
1000 Thank you, Saint Adalbert, for your example of holiness, for by your life you taught us the meaning of the words “for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (cf. Phil Ph 1,21). We thank you for the millenium of faith and Christian life which you brought to Poland and all of Central Europe.
3. “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5,48). Christ tells us this in today’s Gospel. On the eve of the Third Millennium these words set down by Saint Matthew resound with new power. They sum up the teaching of the eight Beatitudes, at at the same time express the fullness of our human vocation. To be perfect in the measure of God! To be, like God, filled with love, since it is he who “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt 5,45).
Here we glimpse the mystery of man created in God’s likeness and therefore capable of loving and receiving the gift of love. This primordial human vocation has been inscribed by the Creator in man’s nature; it is what makes every person seek love, even if at times he does so by choosing the evil of sin, which presents itself under the appearances of good. We seek love because in the depth of our hearts we know that only love can make us happy. Often however we seek this happiness in a groping way. We seek it in pleasures, in material things and in what is earthly and transient. In the Garden Adam heard these words: “Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (cf. Gen Gn 3,5). This is what God’s enemy, Satan, told him and Adam believed him. However, how painful for humanity has been this way of seeking happiness without God! How soon did mankind experience the darkness of sin and the tragedy of death! For whenever man distances himself from God, he experiences as a consequence great disappointment, accompanied by fear. This is so because, as a result of his distancing himself from God, man is left by himself and he begins to sense a painful solitude; he feels lost. And yet, from this fear there is born the search for the Creator, for nothing else can satisfy man’s innate hunger for God.
Dear brothers and sisters, do not let yourselves be “frightened in anything by your opponents”, as Paul tells us in the First Reading. Do not let yourselves be intimidated by those who point to sin as the way to happiness. You are “engaged in the same conflict which you saw and now hear to be mine” (Ph 1,30), adds the Apostle to the Nations. This is the struggle against our personal sins and especially sins against love: these can take on disturbing dimensions in the life of society. Man will never be happy at the expense of another man, destroying his freedom, trampling people’s dignity and cultivating selfishness. Our happiness are our brothers and sisters, whom God has given to us and entrusted to us, and through them, our happiness is God himself. For “he who loves is born of God and knows God, for God is love” (1Jn 4,7-8).
I say this in the land of Gdansk, which witnessed dramatic battles for Poland’s freedom and for the Christian identity of Poles. We remember September 1939: the heroic defence of Westerplatte and of the Polish Post Office in Gdansk. We remember the priests who suffered martyrdom in the concentration camp in nearby Stutthof, and whom the Church will raise to the glory of the altars during this pilgrimage, and the woods of Piasnica, near Wejherowo, where thousands of persons were shot to death. All this belongs to the history of the people of this land and is part of the larger record of the tragic events of the war period. As I wrote in my Message to the Polish Episcopal Conference on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II: “Thousands became victims of prison, torture and execution. Worthy of admiration and lasting remembrance was the unparalleled effort mounted by the whole of society and particularly by the younger generation of Poles in defence of the homeland and its essential values” (No. 2). Let us embrace these persons in prayer, remembering them and their sufferings, their sacrifice and especially their death. Nor is it right to overlook more recent history, including above all the tragic December of 1970, when the workers took to the streets of Gdansk and Gdynia, and then August 1980, a time of hope, and finally the dramatic period of the martial law.
Could there be any more appropriate place to speak of all this than here in Gdansk? It was in this city that “Solidarnosc” was born nineteen years ago. This was an event which signaled a turning point in the history of our nation and in the history of Europe. “Solidarnosc” opened the doors of freedom to countries enslaved by the totalitarian system, tore down the Berlin wall and contributed to the unity of Europe after the divisions which followed the Second World War. We must never cancel this from our memory! This event is part of our national heritage. At that time I heard you say in Gdansk: “There is no freedom without solidarity”. Today we need to say: “There is no solidarity without love”. Indeed, there is no happiness, there is no future for the individual and the nation without love, without that love which forgives yet does not forget, which is sensitive to the misfortunes of others, which does not seek its own advantage but seeks the good of the other person; that love which is ever ready to help, which is selfless and disposed to give generously. We are therefore called to build the future based on love of God and of neighbour, establishing the “civilization of love”. Today the world and Poland need great-hearted men who serve with humility and love, who bless and do not curse, who conquer the land with blessing. It is not possible to build the future without reference to the source of love which is God, who “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).
Jesus Christ is the one who reveals love to man, while at the same time disclosing his supreme calling. In today’s Gospel, he shows in the words of the Sermon on the Mount how we are to carry out this vocation: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.
4. “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel” (Ph 1,27).
This is what the Apostle Paul says to the Philippians, and this is what Adalbert is saying to us. After ten centuries these words seem to be even more eloquent. From such a great distance of time this holy Bishop, the Apostle of our land, comes among us, returns to us, in order to examine, in a sense to determine whether we are persevering in fidelity to the Gospel. Our presence at the liturgy in the places connected with him must be our response. We want to assure him that indeed we are persevering, and that we wish to continue to do so. With far-sighted vision, Adalbert prepared our forefathers to enter the Second Millennium. Today here, in response to those words, we are preparing together to enter the Third Millennium. We want to enter it with God, as a people which has placed its trust in love and has loved the truth. As a people that wishes to live in the spirit of truth, since only the truth can make us free and happy. We sing the Te Deum, glorifying God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, God the Creator and Redeemer, for all that he has accomplished in this land through his servent, Bishop Adalbert. And at the same time we ask: Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic haereditati tuae.
Much has changed and is still changing in Poland. The centuries pass, and Poland grows amid changing destinies, like a great, historic oak tree with healthy roots. Let us thank Divine Providence for blessing this thousand-year process of growth with the presence of Saint Adalbert and with his martyr’s death on the Baltic. This is a great heritage, with which we press on towards the future. Through the work of Saint Adalbert and all the Patron Saints of Poland gathered around the Mother of God, may the fruits of the Redemption endure and take deeper root among generations to come. May the men and women of the Third Millennium take up the mission handed on a thousand years ago by Saint Adalbert and in turn pass it on to the coming generations.
Behold, the grain which fell to the ground,
in this land,
1001 has borne fruit a hundredfold. Amen.
Sunday, 6 June 1999
1. “Blessed are those . . . who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lc 11,28). Today this blessing of Christ goes with us as we journey through our Polish land. I joyfully utter this blessing at Pelplin, greeting all the faithful of this Church, with Bishop Jan Bernard, whom I thank for his words of welcome. I greet as well Auxiliary Bishop Piotr, all the Bishops gathered here, with the Cardinal Primate at their head, the priests, the religious men and women, and all you dear Brothers and Sisters. May this blessing be with you!
2. “Blessed are those . . . who hear the word of God and keep it”. For more than a thousand years, many people in these lands have heard the word of God. They welcomed it from the lips of those who proclaimed it. They received it first from the lips of the great missionary of these lands, Saint Adalbert. They were witnesses to his martyrdom. Later generations sprang from that sowing of the seed, thanks to the ministry of other missionaries – Bishops, priests and religious. The procession of apostles of the word of God. Some confirmed the Gospel message by suffering a martyr’s death, others through slow self-immolation in apostolic toil in keeping with the spirit of the Benedictine Ora et Labora – pray and work. The word proclaimed gained special power as a word confirmed by the witness of life.
In this land, there is a long tradition of listening to the word of God and of witness given to the Word, who in Christ became Incarnate. From century to century that tradition continued. This tradition is alive in our own century as well. An eloquent and tragic symbol of this continuity was the so called “Autumn of Pelplin”, the sixtieth anniversary of which occurs this year. At that time, twenty- four courageous priests, teachers at the Major Seminary and members of the Bishop’s staff, bore witness to their faithful service of the Gospel by the sacrifice of suffering and death. In the time of the occupation, 303 pastors were taken from the land of Pelplin and at the cost of their lives heroically testified to the message of hope in the dramatic period of the war and the occupation. If today we remember these martyred priests, it is because it was from their lips that our generation heard the word of God and, thanks to their sacrifice, experienced its power.
We need to recall this historic sowing of the seed by word and witness, especially now as we approach the end of the second millennium. This centuries- long tradition must continue in the third millennium. Yes, given the new challenges confronting the individual and entire societies today, we must constantly renew our awareness of what the word of God is, of how important it is in the life of the Christian, in the life of the Church and of all humanity.
3. What does Christ say in this regard in the Gospel we have heard today? At the end of the Sermon on the Mount he said: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded upon the rock” (Mt 7,24-25). The opposite of the man who built on the rock is the man who built upon sand. The house he built could not stand. Faced with trials and difficulties, it fell. This is what Christ teaches us.
A house built upon rock. The building that is one’s life. How should it be built so that it does not collapse under the pressure of this world’s events? How should this building be built so that from being an “earthly dwelling” it may become “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2Co 5,1)? Today we hear the reply to these fundamental questions of faith: at the basis of the Christian building there is the hearing and keeping of the word of Christ. And in speaking of “the word of Christ” we have in mind not only his teaching, the parables and promises, but also his works, the signs, the miracles. And above all his Death, the Resurrection and the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Further still: we have in mind the Son of God himself, the eternal Word of the Father, in the mystery of the Incarnation: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1,14).
With this Word – Christ living and risen – Saint Adalbert came upon Polish soil. For centuries there came with Christ other heralds who bore witness to him. The witnesses of our own times, clergy and laity, gave their lives for him. Their work and their sacrifice have become for later generations the sign that nothing can destroy a building which has Christ as its foundation. These witnesses have journeyed through the ages saying with Saint Paul: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rm 8,35).
4. “Blessed are those . . . who hear the word of God and keep it”. If, at the threshold of the third millennium, we ask how the future will be, we cannot avoid the question of the foundation that we set beneath this building, which will be carried on by generations to come. Our generation must build prudently for the future. The prudent builder is the one who hears the word of Christ and keeps it.
S. John Paul II Homil. 994