S. John Paul II Homil. 1060



Sunday, 10 October 1999

1. "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast" (Mt 22,2).

In the Gospel just proclaimed, Jesus describes the kingdom of God as a great marriage feast, with an abundance of food and drink, in a joyous and festive atmosphere for all the guests. At the same time, Jesus emphasizes the need for the "wedding garment" (cf. ibid., v. 11), that is, the need to respect the conditions required for taking part in this solemn feast.

The image of the feast is also present in the first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah, which stresses the universality of the invitation "for all peoples" (cf. Is Is 25,6), and the disappearance of all suffering and pain: "God will wipe away tears from all faces" (cf. ibid., v. 8).

These are God's great promises, which were fulfilled in the redemption brought by Christ and which the Church proclaims in her evangelizing mission and offers to all mankind. Communion of life with God and our brethren, which the action of the Holy Spirit brings to believers' lives, is centred on the Eucharistic banquet, the source and summit of all Christian experience. The liturgy reminds us of this every time we prepare to receive Christ's Body. Before Communion the priest says to the faithful: "Happy are those who are called to his supper". Yes! We are truly happy because we are invited to the eternal banquet of God's salvation, prepared for the whole world.

2. Dear brothers and sisters of St Catherine of Siena Parish! In coming among you today, I am resuming my customary pastoral visits to the parishes of Rome. I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to talk to your parish community which is dedicated to St Catherine of Siena. As you know so well, at the opening of the Synod of Bishops for Europe a few days ago, I had the joy of proclaiming her co-patroness of Europe, together with Bridget of Sweden and Edith Stein. To her and to the other holy patronesses of Europe I again entrust the work of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops and its commitment to the new evangelization of our continent.

While I hope that you will grow under St Catherine's constant protection, I joyfully greet you all. I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Vicegerent, your beloved parish priest, Mons. Aldo Zega, and the assistant priests. I extend a cordial greeting to the communities twinned with your parish, especially the one in Trieste, represented here today by a significant delegation. I greet the members of the many parish groups and everyone involved in its various formative, sociocultural and charitable activities.

3. I am also grateful to the Marianist Fathers, who are hosting us for this celebration. They have been willing for a long time now to have the parish's temporary facilities on land belonging to their congregation. I also extend heartfelt thanks to the Hospital Sisters of Mercy who, since the parish's foundation, have generously made their church available, providing care of the sacristy and many other types of service.

Dear religious, thank you for your readiness to meet the parish's pastoral needs. I firmly hope that this fruitful cooperation will continue and increase not only here, but everywhere. The challenge of the new evangelization, in fact, involves the various members of God's People and asks each person to offer his own resources in order to serve the Gospel better. In this way, diocesan and religious priests, parish communities and religious families work together, while respecting their legitimate autonomy, in proclaiming and bearing witness to Christ, the one Redeemer of humanity.

1061 Your parish has taken this path so far; I encourage you to continue on it with trust and generosity.

After the first difficult years of its foundation, your parish has been intensely community-oriented, achieving a good level of pastoral structuring and organization. Even though it lacks a real centre for its own activities, it has been able to offer the residents of the area continuous catechesis and Christian formation, as well as a concrete witness of Gospel charity. Keep up the good work!

While I ardently hope that you can soon obtain land to build an adequate place of worship, I invite you to cherish the experience gained in these years. In your apostolic work, do not be content with serving those who already come to church or who have occasional contact with the Christian faith.

Go in search of every person and proclaim the Gospel to all, wherever people live, work, study, suffer or spend their leisure time.

4. This is the mission to which we are called especially in view of the Jubilee Year, which will begin in a few months with the opening of the Holy Door. Take as your example your heavenly patroness, St Catherine, a humble and fearless Dominican tertiary who gave herself unsparingly for the Church. For everyone may this great saint be not only a special protectress but a model to follow on the path of holiness.

Follow her, dear young people who are preparing for World Youth Day. In this regard, I recall what I wrote in my Message for this Day: "May it be your holy ambition to be holy, as he - [Christ] - is holy!" (n. 3). Catherine of Siena admirably expressed the synthesis of contemplation and action, for which you must strive if you are to be the apostles of the new millennium.

Rome is preparing to celebrate an International Eucharistic Congress: may St Catherine's love for the Eucharist be a source of inspiration for all believers, so that they will always be moved to love God and neighbour, especially the neediest. Women of this community, look in particular to St Catherine of Siena: may her characteristic female genius, which made her fearless and courageous, spur you to be strong, constructive and creative in your love for God and in caring for others.

5. "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" (
Ph 4,13). With these words St Paul expresses the deep meaning of his missionary life. This also sums up the spiritual experience of St Catherine of Siena and of every faithful Gospel servant. My wish is that your community too will be able to repeat with the Apostle Paul and with Christ's true disciples: "I can do all things in him who strengthens me"!

Let us ask the Lord, in the words of today's Collect, to precede and always accompany our personal and community journey with his grace, so that, sustained by his fatherly aid and the motherly intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, we will never tire of doing good.




Friday, 15 October 1999

1. "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (Rm 4,3). The Apostle Paul's words which have just now resounded in this basilica, bring us to the heart of today's liturgy for the inauguration of the Academic Year 1999-2000.

With great affection I greet Cardinal Pio Laghi, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

I greet you, dear rectors, professors and students, who have wished to take part in this solemn Eucharistic celebration. I wish every one a fruitful academic year. This year will be a special one, because it coincides with the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. May this season of joy be a favourable opportunity for you not only to deepen your theological knowledge, but above all to grow in faith in Jesus Christ.

2. The Apostle speaks of this faith, presenting the example of Abraham, father of believers. He illustrates a fundamental point of his apostolic preaching: faith as the basis for justification. Man is justified before God through faith. The justice that saves man does not derive from the effects of law, but from faith, that is, from the attitude of total openness and full acceptance of God's grace, which transforms the human being and makes him a new creature.

The act of faith is not simply an intellectual adherence to the truths revealed by God, but neither is it merely an attitude of confident entrustment to God's action. Rather it is the synthesis of both these elements, because it involves both the intellectual and the affective realm, as an integral act of the human person.

These reflections on the nature of faith have immediate consequences on the way of working out, teaching and learning theology. If, in fact, the act of faith that leads to man's justification involves the whole of the person, theological reflection on divine Revelation and on the human response cannot but take due account of the multiple aspects - intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual - which intervene in the relationship of communion between God and the believer.

3. "I said: "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord' " (Ps 32 [31]: 5). The responsorial psalm we repeated together accentuates our awareness that we cannot reach God with our efforts alone, and of our condition as sinners. It is when he becomes aware of his remoteness from God that the human person sets out to seek to encounter him and opens himself to the action of grace.

Through faith, man welcomes the salvation which the Father offers him in Jesus Christ. The man to whom the Lord gives salvation is truly blessed (response, responsorial ); the hearts of those who are at peace with God overflow with joy: "Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!" (Ps 32 [31]: 11).

The first part of today's Gospel passage refers to this sincere confession of one's sins, and of the need to open oneself to God's action. The harshness of refusing to recognize one's own faults and the inability to accept God's gift are defined by Jesus as "the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Lc 12,1). With these words, Jesus censures not only false attitudes and the search for appearances, but the presumption of being just in themselves, precluding every possibility of genuine conversion and faith in God.

The act of faith considered in its integrality must necessarily be expressed in concrete attitudes and decisions. In this way it becomes possible to overcome the apparent antithesis between faith and action. Faith understood in the full sense does not remain an abstract element, uprooted from everyday life, but involves all a person's dimensions, including the existential contexts and experiential aspects of his life.

An eloquent example of this synthesis between faith and action, contemplation and action, is the Carmelite saint, Teresa of Avila, a doctor of the Church, whose feast we are celebrating today. She reached the peak of intimacy with God and, at the same time, was always very active from the apostolic viewpoint and sound in everything she did. Her mystical experience, moreover, like that of all the saints, clearly shows how in those who seek God everything converges towards one central point: their integral response to God which is communicated. Theology too, faithful to its own character of sapiential reflection on the faith, by its nature flows into the fields of morals and spirituality.

1063 4. In the passage from Luke which has just been proclaimed, we read: "Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed" (Lc 12,2). These words do not simply indicate the fact that God scrutinizes every person's heart. What is hidden and must be revealed has a far greater significance and universal importance: it is the Gospel proclamation sown in the depths of consciences, which asks to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth. Jesus' words add an important element to the reflection on the act of faith: that is, the passage from the personal context and, as it were, from man's inmost depths to the context of community and mission. Faith, if it is to be full and mature, brings the impulse to be communicated, extending in a certain sense that movement which originates in Trinitarian love, and strives to embrace humanity and all creation.

5. Gospel proclamation is not free from risks. The Church's history is marked with examples of heroic fidelity to the Gospel. In our century also, even in our day, many of our brothers and sisters in the faith have sealed their full adherence to Christ and their service to the kingdom of God with the supreme sacrifice of their life.

With regard to renunciation and sacrifice, which in some cases lead to martyrdom, we encounter Jesus' comforting words: "Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do" (Lc 12,4). The forces of evil try to oppose the way of the Gospel, they try to destroy the work of salvation and to kill Christ's witnesses, but the very sacrifice of these courageous workers in the Lord's vineyard is eloquent proof of God's power. How many trials has the Church overcome with the power of the Holy Spirit! How many martyrs of our century have given up their lives for Christ's cause! Their sacrifices have yielded abundant fruit for the Church and for the kingdom of God.

Jesus' words comfort and encourage us at the begininng of this new academic year: "Fear not" (Lc 12,7). Dear friends, let us not be afraid to open the doors of our hearts to faith, to make it a lively experience in our lives and to proclaim it ceaselessly to our brethren.

May the Blessed Virgin, model of faith and seat of divine wisdom, make us faithful disciples of her Son Jesus and generous proclaimers of his Word. Amen!



Sunday, 17 October 1999

1. "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mt 22,21).

The answer Jesus gave to some Jews who were putting him to the test, as on other occasions, stands out in today's Gospel passage. Jesus avoids the trap, showing himself a Master of great wisdom, who teaches the way of God faithfully, without giving in to compromises.

Render to God the things that are God's! It is clear that what counts most is the kingdom of God. Christ's words illuminate the lines of conduct for Christians in the world. Faith does not require of them detachment from temporal realities; indeed, it becomes a greater incentive for them to be committed with lively generosity to transforming themselves from within, thus contributing to establishing the kingdom of heaven.

The first reading, from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, also clearly accentuates this truth. For believers there is only one God, who with his Providence guides humanity's journey through history (cf. Is Is 45,5-6). For this very reason they undertake to build the earthly city, in order to make it more just and human. They are upheld in this effort by the hope that they will one day participate in the communion of the heavenly city where God will be everything to everyone.

2. Dear brothers and sisters of St Francis of Assisi Parish at Monte Mario, I am pleased to visit your community today and to celebrate the Eucharist with you. In this period of immediate preparation for the Jubilee, we are constantly invited to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God so as to prepare ourselves to cross the threshold of the third millennium with the proper interior attitude.

1064 I greet you all with great affection. I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishop Vincenzo Apicella of the sector, your zealous parish priest, Fr Maurizio Fagnani, the Superior General of the Piarists and all of the Piarist Fathers of the Roman Province who work with him in the pastoral guidance of the community.

A grateful thought then goes to the many members of religious institutes in the parish territory, as well as to the numerous lay groups who, with their different initiatives of catechesis, charity and organized recreation, enrich the parish's life, as well as the members of the pastoral council and the finance council.

I extend a cordial greeting to the AGESCI 27 group, the young people and leaders of the Calasanctius After-School Association, recently founded to create a centre for the children and young people of the neighbourhood.

I congratulate you on this youth work and above all, I am glad that adults share in the commitments and responsibilities of the pastoral care of youth and do not leave young people to develop alone on their path of education in the faith. For young people to be able to turn to mature adults who know how to suggest lofty goals to them, who can listen to them and offer them valid responses to the fundamental existential questions is a guarantee for their future and an enrichment for the Church and society. I therefore urge you to continue on this road, inspired by the example of St Joseph Calasanctius, founder of the Pious Schools and patron of popular Christian schools, who worked so hard for the good and for the Christian and cultural formation of youth.

3. Speaking of young people, my thoughts naturally turn to World Youth Day which, as everyone knows, will be celebrated in Rome from 15 to 20 August 2000. Although this is in an initiative primarily for young people, it cannot but see the participation of the entire Christian community of Rome, with all its members and branches. We must prepare ourselves to offer a warm welcome to the young men and women who will come to Rome for this event. Let us entrust to the Lord, through Mary's intercession, the successful outcome and spiritual fruit which this great event will not fail to produce.

Next to your praiseworthy commitment to the formation of young people, I do not want to forget the many other charitable and evangelizing initiatives of your parish, especially those which are the result of the City Mission that has just ended, but whose spirit and pastoral style must continue to imbue all apostolic activities. I am referring in particular to the setting up of a place to welcome and comfort the poor, as well as the centres for hearing the Gospel which you have opened in so many parts of the neighbourhood. We must never tire of being missionaries and of spreading the Gospel of charity.

4. Dear parishioners of St Francis of Assisi at Monte Mario, coming among you this morning I noticed how small your community church is, which, although it boasts over three centuries of history, is proving insufficient for your liturgical and pastoral needs. While I hope that you will soon have another larger one, I urge you to draw from the building's smallness a further incentive to be a living community, committed to spreading the Gospel everywhere. May yours be a missionary parish, composed of enthusiastic believers in Christ who can witness to the faith with your life.

May the Virgin Mary protect you and Sts Joseph Calasanctius and Francis of Assisi obtain from God for each of you the gift of perseverance in your good resolutions, in the spirit and commitments of the new evangelization.





Saturday, 23 october 1999

Most Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

1065 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. With this solemn Eucharistic concelebration, the Second Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops comes to its conclusion. To you, almighty Father, for you, his Son our Redeemer, in you, Holy Spirit, we give thanks today. We also express our gratitude for the series of continental Synodal Assemblies, through which the Church has made an ample reflection during these years on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 for the coming of Christ into the world.

A reason for renewed gratitude to divine Providence is also that opportunity given to us to encounter, to listen and to confront one another: in this way, we have deepened our mutual knowledge and have edified each other, especially thanks to the witness of those who, under the past totalitarian regimes, suffered hard and prolonged persecution for the faith.

With gratitude to each one of you, venerable Brothers in the Episcopate whom I have encountered almost daily during these weeks of intense work, I make my own the psalmist's words: "As for the saints in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight" (
Ps 15,3). Thank you with all my heart for the time and energies you have so generously spent for the good of the pilgrim Church in Europe.

I would like to save a special word of gratitude for all those who collaborated in the organization of the Synod, offering their help to the Synod Fathers: our thoughts go in particular to the General Secretary and his co-workers, to the Presidents Delegate and to the General Rapporteur. I extend my deep gratitude to those who have had a part in the successful outcome of this important ecclesial event.

2. "Jesus Christ of Nazareth ... crucified ... whom God raised from the dead" (Ac 4,10).
At the beginning of the Church, Peter's firm words echoed in Jerusalem: it was kerygma, the Christian announcement of salvation destined, by Christ's will, to all men and to all the peoples on earth.

After 20 centuries, the Church presents herself at the threshold of the third millennium with this same announcement which constitutes her only treasure: Jesus Christ is the Lord; in him, and in no one else, there is salvation (cf. Acts Ac 4,12); He is the same yesterday, today, and for ever (cf. Heb He 13,8).

This is the cry that comes from the hearts of the disciples of Emmaus, returning to Jerusalem after meeting the Risen One. They listened to his ardent words and they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. This Synodal Assembly, the second for Europe, placed opportunely in the light of the biblical image of the disciples of Emmaus, closes in the sign of the joyous witness that comes from the experience of Christ, alive in his Church. The source of hope, for Europe and for the entire world, is Christ, the Word made Flesh, the only mediator between God and man. And the Church is the channel through which the wave of grace flows and spreads, coming from the pierced Heart of the Saviour.

3. "Believe in God, believe also in me.... If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him" (Jn 14,1). With these words the Lord comforts our hope and invites us to look towards the heavenly Father.

This year, the last of the century and of the millennium, the Church makes her own the disciples' invocation: "Lord, show us the Father" (Jn 14,8), and receives Christ's comforting response: "he who has seen me has seen the Father ... I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (Jn 14,9-10). Christ is the source of life and hope, because in him "in him the fullness of deity dwells" (Col 2,9). In the human history of Jesus of Nazareth, the Transcendent entered into history, the Eternal into time, the Absolute into the precariousness of the human condition.

1066 Therefore with firm conviction the Church repeats to the men and women of the Year 2000 and in a special way to those living immersed in relativism and materialism: welcome Christ into your lives! Those who encounter him encounter Truth, discover Life, find the Way that leads to him (cf. Jn Jn 14,6 Ps 15,11). Christ is man's future: "for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Ac 4,12).

4. This announcement of hope, this Good News is the heart of evangelization.It is ancient with regard to its essential nucleus, yet new with regard to the method and forms of its apostolic and missionary expression. Venerable Brothers, during the work of the Assembly that ends today, you have received the call that the Spirit addresses to the Churches in Europe committing them to face the new challenges. You have not feared to open your eyes to the reality of the continent, pointing out its lights as well as its shadows. Indeed faced with the problems of the present time, you have indicated useful orientations to make the face of Christ increasingly visible by a more incisive annunciation corroborated by a consistent witness.

Light and comfort come, in this regard, from the saints that spangle the history of the European Continent. Our thoughts go, in the first place, to Sts Edith Stein, Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Siena, whom I proclaimed co-patronesses of Europe at the beginning of this Synodal Assembly along with Sts Benedict, Cyril and Methodius. But how can we forget about the numerous children of the Church who, during these two millennia, lived a holiness no less generous and authentic in hiding, in family, professional and social life? And how can we not pay homage to the multitude of confessors of the faith and the many martyrs of this last century? All of them, like "living stones" adhering to Christ "the cornerstone", have built Europe as a spiritual and moral edifice, leaving a most precious inheritance to the future generations.

The Lord Jesus promised: "he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father" (Jn 14,12). The saints are living proof of the fulfilment of this promise, and encourage the belief that this is possible in the most difficult hours of history.

5. If we turn our gaze to the past centuries, we can only give thanks to the Lord because in our continent Christianity has been a primary factor of unity among peoples and cultures and of the integral promotion of man and his rights.

If there have been attitudes and choices which unfortunately have sometimes gone in the opposite direction, at the time when we are preparing to pass through the Holy Door of the Great Jubilee (cf. Incarnationis mysterium, n. 11) we feel the need to humbly recognize our responsibilities. All Christians are requested to make this necessary discernment, so that with God's help, ever more united and reconciled they may hasten the coming of his kingdom.

This fraternal cooperation is ever more urgent in the period we are going through, characterized by a new phase in the process of European integration and by a strong evolution in a multi-ethnic and multicultural sense. Regarding this, making my own the words of the final Message of the Synod, I hope with you, venerable Brothers, that Europe in an attitude of creative faithfulness to its humanistic and Christian tradition, will guarantee the primacy of the ethical and spiritual values. This is a hope that "comes from the firm conviction that there can be no true and fertile unity for Europe if it is not built on its spiritual foundations".

6. Let us pray for this during this celebration. Invited by the responsorial psalm, we repeat: "Show us, Lord, the way of life" (response of the responsorial psalm). Lord, at every moment of life, show us the way.

These words come to the believer's lips, especially now that the Second Special Assembly for Europe is about to end: Only you, Lord, can show us the way to take in order to offer the hope that does not disappoint our brothers and sisters of Europe. And we, Lord, will follow docilely.

The iconographic tradition of the Christian East comes to aid us in our prayer, offering us an eloquent model of reference: it is the icon of the Hodegetria, Our Lady, "who shows the way".

The Mother is pointing to the Son she carries in her arms and reminds Christians of all times and places that Christ is the path to follow. On her part, the Church, mirroring the icon, rediscovers in Mary, so to speak, herself and her own mission: to indicate Christ to the world, the only path that leads to Life.

1067 Mary, caring Mother of the Church, come to us and show us your Son. We hear the Blessed Virgin answer our trusting supplication, indicating Jesus and telling us as she did the servants of the wedding of Cana: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5).

Keeping your gaze fixed on Christ, beloved brothers and sisters, return to your communities, strengthened by the knowledge that he lives in the Church, source of hope for Europe.



Sunday, 31 October 1999

1. "You have one master, the Christ" (Mt 23,10). The Gospel passage we heard a few moments ago recounts Jesus' dispute with the scribes and Pharisees. Echoing the voice of the Old Testament prophets (cf. Mal Ml 2,1-10), Jesus condemns their hypocrisy based on the presumption of being righteous before God. This is an attitude that removes man from the path of good. And it is an attitude that can lurk today in the human heart.

Jesus' words warn us against every "Pharisaism", that is, from the concern for appearances, from the easy compromise with falseness and the temptation to assert ourselves independently of the divine will. Before man's proud pretence of being able to do without God, Jesus, the real Master, addresses a pressing invitation to receive the action of divine grace with humble openness: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Mt 23,12).

2. Dear brothers and sisters of St Benedict Joseph Labre Parish, I greet you all with affection, with a special thought for the Cardinal Vicar, for the Auxiliary of the area, Bishop Enzo Dieci, for your parish priest, Fr Francesco Troiani, and for everyone who assists him in the pastoral care of this young parish community.

Yes, yours is a young community. Young because of its date of birth: the first families came to this new neighbourhood in 1993. Young because of its make-up: the majority of the community consists of young families who came to live in this area called "La Torraccia" after their wedding and who now welcome into these new homes the gift of children with which God wished to bless their marriage. In this regard, I know that over 200 Baptisms are administered in this parish every year and that there are many children enrolled in catechism classes. To you, dear children, to your parents, catechists and teachers goes my cordial greeting and encouragement to continue generously with your active participation in the life of the parish community and in your joyous witness to Christian values.

3. While we thank God for the fundamental role that the family based on marriage and enriched with the gift of children has in the Church and in society, we cannot fail to be concerned today about the many family units that are unfortunately in difficulty and couples - even while happily married - who do not have the courage to open themselves to the gift of life. May the Lord touch the hearts of our brothers and sisters and enable them to persevere in married life and to be generous in welcoming children.

Today's pastoral visit to your parish offers me the occasion to make my own the appeal addressed a few days ago by the Bishops of Lazio to the political and institutional authorities and to all citizens (cf. L'Osservatore Romano, 22 October 1999, p. 8). I once again ask the civil authorities to spare no effort in promoting and protecting the family based on marriage, without allowing it to be confused with other and quite different forms of union. I urge the ecclesial communities and every individual believer to work with every greater zeal for the family and the values it bears, convinced that these efforts effectively contribute to the common good.

In this regard, I hope that even in your recently built neighbourhood there soon may be those essential structures that support the families who reside here, enabling them to open themselves with greater generosity to the gift of life and to lead tranquil married lives. I am thinking of the necessity for day-care centres, kindergartens and all those structures which help parents in their educational task.

1068 4. Dear brothers and sisters, in coming here among you this morning I realized that your new parish church is basically the only meeting place in the neighbourhood. The parish structures must therefore be open to receive whoever knocks at the door in search of spiritual and material help.

I know that in this parish pastoral activity began in an itinerant form, due to the lack of a fixed place of worship and parish structures. I congratulate you for transforming this initial inconvenience into an occasion of authentic Gospel witness, following the example of your patron, St Benedict Joseph Labre. As you know, he was a pilgrim. Called the "French saint", he came from beyond the Alps to Rome and lived without a fixed abode, trusting only in God and being abundantly nourished by his Word and the Eucharist. Roman by adoption, he died in sanctity in a butcher's poor back-shop, just a short distance from the Colosseum, where he lived among the ruins.

Following the example of St Benedict Joseph Labre, may you too preserve the enthusiasm and style of the early years of your parish community, which was characterized by taking the Gospel message from house to house and by the celebration of the Eucharist in the entrance halls of the apartment buildings. This must remain your pastoral style, even if now you can enjoy this lovely new parish church, while pursuing the objectives and goals of the City Mission.

5. The Holy Year of 2000 is fast approaching! It will be an intensely "Eucharistic" year, especially during the month of June, when the International Eucharistic Congress will be held here in Rome.

As I invite the entire Christian community to prepare for this great faith event with faith and devotion, I urge everyone to rediscover the precious gift of the Eucharistic Bread, which is "the strength of the weak, the support of the sick, the balm that heals wounds, and the viaticum for those leaving this world. It is the strength of the faithful who work in environments and circumstances in which their presence is the only possibility of proclaiming the Gospel" (Basic Text, 47th International Eucharistic Congress, 2 June 1999, n. 11). May the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress give the Christians of Rome and of the whole world the strength to live ever more intensely that missionary spirit which must animate the Church of the third millennium.

6. All the disciples of Christ are bearers of a message of salvation that comes from God and is meant for the whole world. It is not a word based on mere human authority; rather, it posseses an authority that comes directly from God. This is what St Paul tells us in the second reading this Sunday: "When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers" (
1Th 2,13).

Be mindful of the great treasure of the Word of God entrusted in its entirety to the Church and to each individual believer. Let yourselves be evangelized by the Word of Christ, to become in turn evangelizers for your brothers and sisters.

May Mary, Star of evangelization, who was the first to welcome humbly into her womb the Word of God in order to offer him to the whole world, make us attentive listeners to the Word and courageous witnesses of her Son, Jesus, the only Master and Saviour of the world.


S. John Paul II Homil. 1060