S. John Paul II Homil. 1131
1131 At another level, the affirmation that God "has made us a kingdom of priests" refers to priests ordained as ministers, called, that is, to form and govern the priestly people and to offer in their name the Eucharistic sacrifice to God in the person of Christ (cf. ibid.). Thus the "chrism" Mass solemnly commemorates the one priesthood of Christ and expresses the priestly vocation of the Church, in particular, that of the Bishop and priests united with him. We will shortly be reminded of this by the Preface: Christ "gives the dignity of a royal priesthood to the people he has made his own. From these, with a brother's love, he chooses men to share his sacred ministry by the laying on of hands .... to renew in his name the sacrifice of our redemption".
3. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me.... He has sent me..." (Lc 4,18).
Dear priests, these words concern us directly. By priestly ordination we have been called to share in Christ's own mission and today we renew our common priestly commitments together. With deep emotion let us remember the gift we have received from Christ, who has called us to a special participation in his Priesthood.
With the blessing of the oils and, in particular, of holy chrism, let us give thanks for the sacramental anointing which has become our portion of the inheritance (cf. Ps Ps 15,5). It is is a sign of inner strength which the Holy Spirit bestows on every human being, called by God to fulfil specific tasks in the service of his kingdom.
"Ave sanctum oleum: oleum catechumenorum, oleum infirmorum, oleum ad sanctum chrisma". As we give thanks in the name of all who will receive these holy signs, let us pray at the same time that the supernatural power which acts through them will not cease to work also in our lives; that the Holy Spirit, resting on each of us, may find in all the necessary willingness to fulfil the mission for which we were "anointed" on the day of our ordination.
4. "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, King of eternal glory". You came among us to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour (cf. Lk Lc 4,19).
As I recalled in the Letter to Priests for today's celebration, Christ's priesthood is intimately linked to the mystery of the Incarnation, whose 2,000th anniversary we are celebrating this Jubilee Year. "It is integral to his identity as the Son incarnate, as God-made-man" (n. 7). This is why this evocative liturgy of Holy Thursday, in a certain way, is almost a connatural Jubilee celebration for us, although the Jubilee of Priests this Holy Year is scheduled for 18 May next.
Christ's earthly life, his "passage" through history, from the moment he was conceived in the Virgin Mary's womb to his ascension to the right hand of the Father, is one priestly and sacrificial event. And it is totally within the "anointing" of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk Lc 1,35 Lc 3,22).
Today we have a special encounter with Christ, the High and Eternal Priest, and in spirit we pass through this Holy Door which opens to every human being the fullness of his saving love. Just as Christ was docile to the action of the Spirit in his human condition as an obedient servant, so the baptized person and, in a particular way, the ordained minister must feel committed to fulfilling his own priestly consecration in humble and faithful service to God and to the brethren.
Let us begin the Easter Triduum, the culmination of the liturgical year and of the Great Jubilee, with these sentiments. Let us prepare to make the intense Easter pilgrimage in the footsteps of Jesus who suffers, dies and rises. Sustained by Mary's faith, let us follow Christ, Priest and Victim, "who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father" (Ap 1,5-6).
Let us follow him and together proclaim: "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, King of eternal glory".
1132 You, Christ, are the same yesterday, today and for ever. Amen!
Holy Thursday, 20 April 2000
1. “I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Lc 22,15).
With these words, Christ declares the prophetic meaning of the Passover Meal which he is about to celebrate with the disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.
In the First Reading from the Book of Exodus, the liturgy shows how the Passover of the Old Covenant provides the context for the Passover of Jesus. For the Israelites, the Passover was a remembrance of the meal eaten by their forefathers at the time of the Exodus from Egypt, the liberation from slavery. The sacred text prescribed that some of the lamb’s blood should be placed on the doorposts and the lintel of the houses. And it went on to stipulate how the lamb was to be eaten: “your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste... For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down all the first-born... The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass you by, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you” (Ex 12,11-13).
The blood of the lamb won for the sons and daughters of Israel liberation from the slavery of Egypt, under the leadership of Moses. The remembrance of so extraordinary an event became a festive occasion for the people, who thanked the Lord for freedom regained, a divine gift and an enduringly relevant human task: “This day will be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord” (Ex 12,14). It is the Passover of the Lord! The Passover of the Old Covenant!
2. “I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Lc 22,15). In the Upper Room, Christ ate the Passover Meal with his disciples in obedience to the Old Covenant prescriptions, but he gave the rite new substance. We have heard how Saint Paul explains it in the Second Reading, taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians. This text, which is thought to be the oldest account of the Lord’s Supper, recalls that Jesus, “on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ?This is my body which is [given] for you. Do this in remembrance of me’. In the same way also the cup at the end of the meal, saying, ?This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1Co 11,23-26).
These are solemn words which hand on for all time the memorial of the institution of the Eucharist. Each year, on this day, we remember them as we return spiritually to the Upper Room. This evening I re-evoke them with particular emotion, because fresh in my mind and heart is the image of the Upper Room, where I had the joy of celebrating the Eucharist during my recent Jubilee pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This emotion is still stronger, because this year is the Year of the Jubilee of the two thousandth anniversary of the Incarnation. Seen in this light, our celebration this evening takes on an especially profound meaning. In the Upper Room, Jesus filled the old traditions with new meaning and foreshadowed the events of the following day, when his Body, the spotless body of the Lamb of God, was to be sacrificed and his Blood poured out for the world’s redemption. The Word took flesh precisely with this event in view, looking to the Passover of Christ, the Passover of the New Covenant!
3. “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1Co 11,26). The Apostle urges us to make constant memorial of this mystery. At the same time, he invites us to live each day our mission as witnesses and heralds of the love of the Crucified Lord, as we await his return in glory.
But how are we to make memorial of this saving event? How are we to live as we await Christ’s return? Before instituting the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, Christ bent down and knelt, as a slave would do, to wash the disciples’ feet in the Upper Room. We watch him as he accomplishes this gesture, which in the Hebrew culture was the task of servants and the humblest persons in the household. Peter at first refuses, but the Master convinces him, and he too in the end, together with the other disciples, allows his feet to be washed. Immediately afterwards, however, clothed once more and seated at table, Jesus explains the meaning of his gesture: “You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought also wash one another’s feet” (Jn 13,12-14). These are words which link the Eucharistic mystery to the service of love, and may therefore be seen as a preparation for the institution of the ministerial priesthood.
In instituting the Eucharist, Jesus gives the Apostles a share as ministers in his priesthood, the priesthood of the new and eternal Covenant. In this Covenant, he and he alone is always and everywhere the source and the minister of the Eucharist. The Apostles in turn become ministers of this exalted mystery of faith, destined to endure until the end of the world. At the same time they become servants of all those who will share in so great a gift and mystery.
1133 The Eucharist, the supreme Sacrament of the Church, is joined to the ministerial priesthood, which also comes to birth in the Upper Room , as the gift of the great love of the One who, knowing “that his hour had come to depart from this world to the Father [and] having loved his own who were in the world. . . loved them to the end” (Jn 13,1).
The Eucharist, the priesthood and the new commandment of love! This is the living memorial which we have before our eyes on Holy Thursday.
“Do this in memory of me”: this is the Passover of the Church! This is our Passover!
Holy Saturday, 22 April 2000
1 “You have a guard of soldiers; go and secure the tomb as best as you can” (Mt 27,65).
The tomb of Jesus had been closed and sealed. At the request of the Chief Priests and the Pharisees, soldiers were placed on guard, lest anyone steal the body (Mt 27,62-64). This is the event from which the liturgy of the Easter Vigil begins.
Those who had sought the death of Christ, those who considered him an “imposter” (Mt 27,62), were keeping watch beside the tomb. They wanted him and his message to be buried for ever.
Not far away, Mary was keeping watch, and with her the Apostles and a few women. In their hearts they pondered the distressing events which had just taken place.
2. The Church keeps watch this night, in every corner of the world, and she re- lives the principal stages of salvation history. The solemn liturgy which we are celebrating is the expression of this “keeping watch” which, in a way, evokes the watch kept by God himself. The Book of Exodus tells us: “It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. This night is a night of watching kept to the Lord in every generation” (Ex 12,42).
In his provident and faithful love, which transcends time and space, God keeps watch over the world. As the Psalmist sings: “He sleeps not nor slumbers, Israel’s guard... The Lord is your guard ... The Lord will guard you... both now and for ever” (Ps 121,4-5,8).
The passage from the second to the third millennium, which we are experiencing, is also guarded in the mystery of the Father. He “is working still” (Jn 5,17) for the salvation of the world, and through his Incarnate Son he leads his people from slavery to freedom, from death to life. All the “work” of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 is in some way linked to this night of Vigil, which brings to fulfilment the night of the Lord’s Nativity. Bethlehem and Calvary evoke the same mystery of the love of 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).
1134 3. As she keeps watch on this Holy Night, the Church closely scrutinizes the texts of Sacred Scripture. They portray God’s plan from Genesis to the Gospel and, together with the liturgical rites of fire and water, give this remarkable celebration a cosmic dimension. The whole created universe is summoned to keep watch this night at the tomb of Christ. The history of salvation passes before our eyes, from Creation to the Redemption, from the Exodus to the Covenant on Mount Sinai, from the Old to the New and Eternal Covenant. On this Holy Night, God’s eternal plan reaches fulfilment, the plan which embraces the history of humanity and of the cosmos.
4. At the Easter Vigil, “the mother of all vigils”, everyone can likewise acknowledge their own personal history of salvation, which has its basic moment in our rebirth in Christ through Baptism.
In a very special way, this is your experience too, dear brothers and sisters who are about to receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.
You come from various countries throughout the world: Japan, China, Cameroon, Albania and Italy.
The variety of your native countries points to the universality of the salvation brought by Christ. Soon, dear friends, you will become intimate sharers in the mystery of the love of God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. May your lives become a song of praise to the Most Holy Trinity and a witness of love which knows no limits.
5. “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world: come, let us worship!”. Yesterday the Church chanted these words, lifting up the wood of the Cross, “on which hung Christ, the Saviour of the world”. “He was crucified, died and was buried”, as we say in the Creed.
The tomb! Behold the place where they buried him (cf. Mk Mc 16,6). There the community of the Church throughout the world is spiritually present. We too are there with the three women going to the tomb before dawn to anoint the lifeless body of Jesus (cf. Mk Mc 16,1). Their loving concern is our concern too. With them we discover that the large tombstone has been rolled away and that the body is no longer there. “He is not here”, the angel proclaims, pointing to the empty tomb and the winding cloth on the ground. Death no longer has power over him (cf. Rom Rm 6,9).
Christ is risen! So the Church proclaims, at the end of this Easter night, even as yesterday she proclaimed Christ’s death on the Cross. It is a proclamation of truth and life.
“Christ is risen from the tomb, who for our sakes hung upon the Cross. Alleluia!”. The Lord, who for us was nailed to the Cross, is risen from the tomb!
Yes, Christ is truly risen and we are witnesses of this.
We proclaim this witness to the world, so that the joy which is ours will reach countless other hearts, kindling in them the light of the hope which does not disappoint.
Christ is risen, alleluia!
1. "Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus, quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius"; "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever" (Ps 118,1). So the Church sings on the Octave of Easter, as if receiving from Christ's lips these words of the Psalm; from the lips of the risen Christ, who bears the great message of divine mercy and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper Room: "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.... Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20,21-23).
Before speaking these words, Jesus shows his hands and his side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in his heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity. From that heart Sr Faustina Kowalska, the blessed whom from now on we will call a saint, will see two rays of light shining from that heart and illuminating the world: "The two rays", Jesus himself explained to her one day, "represent blood and water" (Diary, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, p. 132).
2. Blood and water! We immediately think of the testimony given by the Evangelist John, who, when a solider on Calvary pierced Christ's side with his spear, sees blood and water flowing from it (cf. Jn Jn 19,34). Moreover, if the blood recalls the sacrifice of the Cross and the gift of the Eucharist, the water, in Johannine symbolism, represents not only Baptism but also the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn Jn 3,5 Jn 4,14 Jn 7,37-39).
Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified: "My daughter, say that I am love and mercy personified", Jesus will ask Sr Faustina (Diary, p. 374). Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love's "second name" (cf. Dives in misericordia DM 7), understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness?
Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. By divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the 20th century, the century we have just left behind. In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted his message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people, know well how necessary was the message of mercy.
Jesus told Sr Faustina: "Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy" (Diary, p. 132). Through the work of the Polish religious, this message has become linked for ever to the 20th century, the last of the second millennium and the bridge to the third. It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time.
3. What will the years ahead bring us? What will man's future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina's charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium.
However, as the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats: Peace be with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given to it by the risen Christ. It is the Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart, pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one another, and at the same time, restores the joy of the Father's love and of fraternal unity.
4. It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called "Divine Mercy Sunday". In the various readings, the liturgy seems to indicate the path of mercy which, while re-establishing the relationship of each person with God, also creates new relations of fraternal solidarity among human beings. Christ has taught us that "man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called "to practise mercy' towards others: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy' (Mt 5,7)" (Dives in misericordia DM 14). He also showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. Jesus bent over every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual.
His message of mercy continues to reach us through his hands held out to suffering man. This is how Sr Faustina saw him and proclaimed him to people on all the continents when, hidden in her convent at agiewniki in Kraków, she made her life a hymn to mercy: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo.
5. Sr Faustina's canonization has a particular eloquence: by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium. I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of God and the true face of their brethren.
In fact, love of God and love of one's brothers and sisters are inseparable, as the First Letter of John has reminded us: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments" (1Jn 5,2). Here the Apostle reminds us of the truth of love, showing us its measure and criterion in the observance of the commandments.
It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God's love. Looking at him, being one with his fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy!
To the extent that humanity penetrates the mystery of this merciful gaze, it will seem possible to fulfil the ideal we heard in today's first reading: "The community of believers were of one heart and one mind. None of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather everything was held in common" (Ac 4,32). Here mercy gave form to human relations and community life; it constituted the basis for the sharing of goods. This led to the spiritual and corporal "works of mercy". Here mercy became a concrete way of being "neighbour" to one's neediest brothers and sisters.
6. Sr Faustina Kowalska wrote in her Diary: "I feel tremendous pain when I see the sufferings of my neighbours. All my neighbours' sufferings reverberate in my own heart; I carry their anguish in my heart in such a way that it even physically destroys me. I would like all their sorrows to fall upon me, in order to relieve my neighbour" (Diary, p. 365). This is the degree of compassion to which love leads, when it takes the love of God as its measure!
It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person. Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God's eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy.
7. This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from his heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer "Jesus, I trust in you", which Providence intimated through Sr Faustina! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life. Jezu, ufam tobie.
8. Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (Ps 89,2 : 2). Let us too, the pilgrim Church, join our voice to the voice of Mary most holy, "Mother of Mercy", to the voice of this new saint who sings of mercy with all God's friends in the heavenly Jerusalem.
And you, Faustina, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of divine mercy; help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters. May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood. Today, fixing our gaze with you on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: Christ Jesus, I trust in you! Jezu, ufam tobie!
1137 1. "Lord, give success to the work of our hands" (Responsorial Psalm).
These words we repeated in the Responsorial Psalm clearly express the meaning of today's Jubilee. Today, 1 May, a united prayer rises from the vast and multifaceted world of work: Lord, bless us and strengthen the work of our hands!
Our labours - at home, in the fields, in industries and in offices - could turn into an exhausting busyness ultimately devoid of meaning (cf. Eccl Qo 1,3). Let us ask the Lord for it to be the fulfilment of his plan, so that our work may recover its original meaning.
And what is the original meaning of work? We have heard it in the first reading from the Book of Genesis. God gave man, created in his image and likeness, a command: "Fill the earth and subdue it" (Gn 1,28). The Apostle Paul echoes these words when he writes to the Christians of Thessalonica: "When we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat", and exhorts them "to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living" (2Th 3,10).
In God's plan, work is therefore seen as a right and duty. Necessary to make the earth's resources benefit the life of each person and of society, it helps to direct human activity towards God in the fulfilment of his command to "subdue the earth". In this regard another of the Apostle's exhortations echoes in our souls: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1Co 10,31).
2. While the Jubilee year turns our gaze to the mystery of the Incarnation, it invites us to reflect with particular intensity on the hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth. It was there that he spent most of his earthly life. With his silent diligence in Joseph's workshop, Jesus gave the highest proof of the dignity of work. Today's Gospel mentions how the residents of Nazareth, his fellow villagers, welcomed him with surprise, asking one another: "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son?" (Mt 13,54-55).
The Son of God did not disdain being called a "carpenter" and did not want to be spared the normal condition of every human being. "The eloquence of the life of Christ is unequivocal: he belongs to the "working world', he has appreciation and respect for human work. It can indeed be said that he looks with love upon human work and the different forms that it takes, seeing in each one of these forms a particular facet of man's likeness with God, the Creator and Father" (Encyclical Laborem exercens LE 26).
The teaching of the Apostles and of the Church derives from Christ's Gospel; a true and proper Christian spirituality of work flows from it and was eminently expressed in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council's Constitution Gaudium et spes (nn. 33-39 and 63-72). After centuries of heated social and ideological tensions, the contemporary world, ever more interdependent, needs this "Gospel of work" so that human activity can promote the authentic development of individuals and of all humanity.
3. Dear brothers and sisters who today represent this entire working world gathered for this Jubilee celebration, what does the Jubilee say to you? What does the Jubilee say to society, for which work is not only a fundamental structure but also a proving ground for its choices of value and culture?
Since its Hebrew origins, the Jubilee has directly concerned the reality of work, since the People of God were a people of free men and women redeemed by the Lord from their condition as slaves (cf. Lv Lv 25). In the paschal mystery Christ also brings to fulfilment this institution of the old law, giving it full spiritual meaning but integrating its social dimension into the great plan of the kingdom, which, like "leaven", causes the whole of society to make true progress.
Therefore the Jubilee Year calls for a rediscovery of the meaning and value of work. It is also an invitation to address the economic and social imbalances in the world of work by re-establishing the right hierarchy of values, giving priority to the dignity of working men and women and to their freedom, responsibility and participation. It also spurs us to redress situations of injustice by safeguarding each people's culture and different models of development.
1138 At this moment I cannot fail to express my solidarity with all who are suffering because of unemployment, inadequate wages or lack of material resources. I am well aware of the peoples who are reduced to a poverty that offends their dignity, prevents them from sharing the earth's goods and obliges them to eat whatever scraps fall from the tables of the rich (cf. Incarnationis mysterium, n. 12). The effort to remedy these situations is a labour of justice and peace.
The new realities that are having such a powerful impact on the productive process, such as the globalization of finance, economics, trade and labour, must never violate the dignity and centrality of the human person, nor the freedom and democracy of peoples. If solidarity, participation and the possibility to manage these radical changes are not the solution, they are certainly the necessary ethical guarantee so that individuals and peoples do not become tools but the protagonists of their future. All this can be achieved and, since it is possible, it becomes a duty.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is reflecting on these themes and is closely following developments in the world's economic and social situation, in order to study their effects on the human being. The result of this reflection will be the Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church, which is now being compiled.
4. Dear workers, our meeting is illumined by the figure of Joseph of Nazareth and by his spiritual and moral stature, as lofty as it is humble and discreet. The promise of the Psalm is fulfilled in him: "Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.... Thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord" (127: 1-2, 4). The Guardian of the Redeemer taught Jesus the carpenter's trade, but above all he set him the most valuable example of what Scripture calls the "fear of God", the very beginning of wisdom, which consists in religious submission to him and in the deep desire to seek and always carry out his will. This, dear friends, is the true source of blessing for every person, for every family and for every nation.
I entrust all of you, your Jubilee and your families to St Joseph, a worker and just man, and to his most holy wife, Mary.
"Lord, give success to the work of our hands".
Bless, O Lord of the centuries and the millennia, the daily work by which men and women provide bread for themselves and their loved ones. We also offer to your fatherly hands the toil and sacrifices associated with work, in union with your Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed human work from the yoke of sin and restored it to its original dignity.
To you be praise and glory today and for ever. Amen.
Third Sunday of Easter, 7 May 2000
1. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12,24). With these words on the eve of his Passion, Jesus foretells his glorification through his death. We have just heard this challenging truth in the Gospel acclamation. It resounds forcefully tonight in this significant place, where we remember the “witnesses to the faith in the twentieth century”.
Christ is the grain of wheat who by dying has borne fruits of everlasting life. And down the centuries his disciples have followed in the footsteps of the Crucified King, becoming a numberless multitude “from every nation, race, people and language”: apostles and confessors of the faith, virgins and martyrs, bold heralds of the Gospel and silent servants of the Kingdom.
S. John Paul II Homil. 1131