S. John Paul II Homil. 1412

FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD Sistine Chapel Sunday, 12 January 2003


1. "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near" (
Is 55,6).

These words from the second part of the Book of Isaiah ring out on this Sunday that ends the Christmas season. They are an invitation to go more deeply into the meaning for us of today's Feast, the Baptism of the Lord.

In spirit let us return to the banks of the Jordan where John the Baptist administered a Baptism of repentance, exhorting to conversion. Coming up to the Precursor is Jesus, and with his presence he transformed that gesture of repentance into a solemn manifestation of his divinity. A voice suddenly comes from heaven: "You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased" (Mc 1,11) and, in the form of a dove, the Spirit descends upon Jesus.

In that extraordinary event, John saw realized what had been said about the Messiah born in Bethlehem, adored by the shepherds and the Magi. He was the very One foretold by the prophets, the beloved Son of the Father; we must seek him while he can be found and call upon him while he is at hand.

In Baptism every Christian personally meets him; he is inserted into the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection and receives a new life, which is the life of God. What a great gift and what a great responsibility!

2. The liturgy today invites us to draw water "with joy at the fountain of salvation" (Is 12,3); it exhorts us to relive our Baptism, giving thanks for the great gifts received.

With these sentiments, I prepare to administer the sacrament of Baptism to the newborn babies, as is now a tradition, in the stupendous Sistine Chapel, where the art of great artists has depicted essential moments of our faith. There are 22 infants, who come mainly from Italy, but also from Poland and Lebanon.

I greet you all, dear brothers and sisters who have wished to take part in this touching celebration. With special affection, I greet you, dear parents and godparents, called to be the first witnesses of the fundamental gift of the faith for these little ones. The Lord entrusts to you, as responsible guardians, the lives that are so precious in his eyes. Devote yourselves lovingly to them so that they may grow "in wisdom, age and grace"; help them to be faithful to their vocation.

In a little while, and in their name, you will renew the promise to fight against evil and to adhere fully to Christ. May your lives always be identified by this generous pledge!

3. You are likewise conscious that the Lord is asking you for a new and deeper collaboration: that is, he is entrusting you with the daily duty of accompanying them on the path of holiness. Make every effort to be holy yourselves in order to guide your children towards that high goal of Christian living. Do not forget that this training in holiness "calls for a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer" (Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, n. NM 32).

May Mary, the Holy Mother of the Redeemer, who accepted God's plan without reservations, support you, nourishing your hope and desire to serve faithfully Christ and his Church. May our Lady help these little ones especially, so that they can fully realize the plan God has in store for each of them. May she help Christian families throughout the world to be authentic "schools of prayer" in which prayer together becomes more and more the heart and the source of every activity!



1. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels" (
2Co 4,7).

These words, taken from the Second Letter to the Corinthians, have been the guiding theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which concludes today. They shed light on our meditation during this evening liturgy of the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. The Apostle reminds us that we carry the "treasure" which Christ has given us in earthen vessels. All Christians are thus called to press forward on their earthly pilgrimage without letting themselves be overwhelmed by difficulties or afflictions (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 8), in the certainty that they will overcome all obstacles thanks to the help and the power which come from on high.

With this conviction, I am happy to pray this evening together with you, beloved brothers and sisters of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities present in Rome, united by the one Baptism in the Lord Jesus Christ. I offer a heartfelt greeting to all of you.

It is my great desire that the Church of Rome, which Providence has entrusted with a unique "presidency in charity" (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans, Introduction), may increasingly become a model of fraternal ecumenical relations.

2. As Christians, we know that we are called to bear witness before the world to the "glorious Gospel" which Christ has given to us (cf. 2Co 4,4). In his name, let us unite our efforts in order to be at the service of peace and reconciliation, justice and solidarity, especially at the side of the poor and the least of the earth.

In this context, I would like to recall the Day of Prayer for World Peace held in Assisi one year ago, on 24 January. That interreligious event sent a powerful message to the world: every authentically religious person is obliged to ask God for the gift of peace, with renewed determination to promote and build peace together with other believers. The theme of peace remains as urgent as ever. It makes particular demands on the followers of Christ, the Prince of Peace, and it represents a challenge and a commitment for the ecumenical movement.

3. In response to the one Spirit who guides the Church, we wish this evening to offer thanks to God for the many abundant fruits which he, the giver of every good gift, has lavished upon the path of ecumenism. In addition to the Assisi meeting, which saw the participation of high-level representatives of almost all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of East and West, how can I fail to mention the visit to Rome last March of a Delegation from the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece? In June I joined Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in signing the Common Declaration on safeguarding the environment. In May I had the joy of visiting Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria, and in October I was visited by Patriarch Teoctist of Romania, with whom I also signed a Common Declaration. Nor can I forget the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, at the conclusion of his mandate, my meetings with Ecumenical Delegations of Ecclesial Communities of the West, and the progress made by the various mixed Commissions of dialogue.

At the same time we cannot fail to acknowledge realistically the difficulties, the problems and at times the disappointments which we still encounter. At times we sense a certain weariness, a lack of fervour, while still experiencing the pain that we are not yet able to share the Eucharistic Banquet. But the Holy Spirit never ceases to surprise us and he continues to work extraordinary wonders.

4. In the present situation of ecumenism, it is important to realize that only the Spirit of God is in a position to give us full visible unity; only the Spirit of God can inspire new fervour and courage. This is why we need to stress the importance of spiritual ecumenism, which constitutes the soul of the whole ecumenical movement. (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio UR 6-8).

This does not mean in any way lessening or downplaying theological dialogue, which has borne abundant fruits in recent decades. Such dialogue remains, as always, an indispensable task. In fact, unity between the followers of Christ can only be a unity in truth (cf. Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint, 18-19). The Spirit guides us towards this goal also through theological dialogues, which represent a sure occasion of mutual enrichment.

Only in the Holy Spirit, however, is it possible to receive the truth of the Gospel, binding for everyone in its depth. Spiritual ecumenism opens our eyes and our hearts to the understanding of revealed truth, and enables us to recognize it and welcome it, thanks also to the insights of other Christians.

5. Spiritual ecumenism takes place above all through prayer raised up to God, in common whenever possible. Like Mary and the disciples after the Lord’s Ascension, it is important that we continue to come together and call untiringly upon the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts Ac 1,12). To prayer we must also add listening to the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, the foundation and sustenance of our faith (cf. Dei Verbum DV 21-25). For there can be no ecumenical rapprochement without conversion of heart, personal sanctification and renewal of ecclesial life.

1416 Communities of consecrated life and recent spiritual movements have a particular role in fostering an encounter with the ancient and venerable Churches of the East, imbued with the spirit of monasticism. There are encouraging signs of a promising revival of spiritual life in the Ecclesial Communities of the West too, and I am gladdened by the helpful exchanges taking place between all these diverse Christian groups.

Nor should we overlook the instances in which the clergy of other Churches attend Catholic Universities: guests at our seminaries, they take part in student life in accordance with the ecclesial discipline in force. Experience has shown that this leads to mutual enrichment.

6. The hope that we express together today is that the spirituality of communion will grow ever stronger! As I wrote in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, may each of us be enabled more and more to look upon our brothers and sisters in faith, within the unity of the Mystical Body, as "those who are a part of me", in order to be "able to share their joys and sufferings".

May we come to see "what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a ‘gift for me’". Let there be no mistake: without an authentic spirituality of communion, external structures of communion "would become mechanisms without a soul, ‘masks’ of communion rather than its means of expression and growth" (No. 43).

Let us continue, then, with courage and patience along this path, trusting in the power of the Spirit! It is not for us to set time frames or deadlines; the Lord’s promise is enough for us.

Strengthened by the word of Christ, we shall not give in to weariness, but rather shall intensify our efforts and our prayer for unity. May his invitation echo in our hearts tonight and bring us comfort: "Duc in altum!". Let us go forward, placing our trust always in him! Amen!




Saturday, 1 February 2003

1. "When the time came for their purification ... they brought the child up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord" (Lc 2,22). The Infant Jesus entered the temple of Jerusalem in the arms of his Virgin Mother.

"Born of woman, born under the law" (Ga 4,4), he submitted to the destiny of every first-born male child of his people: according to the Law of the Lord he had to be "ransomed" with a sacrifice, 40 days after his birth (cf. Ex Ex 13,2 Ex Ex 13,12 Lv 12,1-8).

The newborn Child, in every way like all others outwardly, does not pass unnoticed. The Holy Spirit opens the eyes of faith of the elderly Simeon who comes near, and, taking the Child in his arms, recognizes in him the Messiah and praises God (cf. Lk Lc 2,25-32). This Child, he prophesies, will be "a light for the Gentiles, the glory of Israel" (cf. v. 32), but also a sign of contradiction (cf. v. 34) because according to the Scriptures he will realize the judgement of God. Moreover, the devout old man predicts to the astonished Mother that this will happen through a suffering in which she too will be a sharer (cf. v. 35).

2. Forty days after Christmas, the Church celebrates this stirring joyful mystery that, in a certain way, anticipates both the sorrow of Good Friday and the joy of Easter. In the Eastern Tradition this day is called the "Feast of the Meeting", because in the sacred space of the Temple of Jerusalem, the meeting takes place between God's graciousness and the expectation of the chosen people.

1417 All this acquires in Christ an eschatological meaning and value: he is the Bridegroom who comes to accomplish the nuptial covenant with Israel. Many are called, but how many are effectively ready to receive him, with watchful minds and hearts (cf. Mt Mt 22,14)? In today's liturgy we contemplate Mary, the model of those who wait and open their hearts in docility to the meeting with Lord.

3. In this light, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple is a very suitable day for the the appreciative praise of consecrated persons, and for some years the Day of Consecrated Life has rightly been observed on this day. The picture of Mary who in the temple offers the Son to God, speaks eloquently to the hearts of the men and women who have made a total offering of themselves to the Lord through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for the Kingdom of Heaven.

The theme of spiritual sacrifice is fused with that of light, introduced by Simeon's words. The Virgin appears as a candlestick bearing Christ, the "Light of the world". With Mary, thousands of men and women religious and consecrated lay people throughout the world gather to renew their consecration, holding lighted candles, the expression of their life, burning with faith and love.

4. Here too, in St Peter's Basilica this evening, we offer a solemn thanksgiving to God for the gift of the consecrated life in the Diocese of Rome and in the universal Church. I warmly greet Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apsotolic Life, and his collaborators. I affectionately greet all of you, brothers and sisters, men and women religious and consecrated lay people! With your large, devout and joyful presence, you impress upon the liturgical assembly the face of the Church-Bride, like Mary, doing her utmost to be in total conformity with the Divine Word.

High up in their niches along the walls of this basilica, the founders and foundresses of many of your institutes watch over you. They recall the mystery of the Communion of Saints through which, in the pilgrim Church, from age to age, many renew the choice of following Christ with a special consecration in accord with the many charisms kindled by the Spirit. At the same time, those venerable figures are an invitation to turn our gaze to the heavenly homeland where, in the gathering of saints, so many consecrated souls praise with full beatitude the Triune God whom they loved and served on earth with a free and undivided heart.

5. Poverty, chastity and obedience are distintive features of the redeemed person, inwardly set free from the slavery of egotism. Free to love, free to serve: this is the way the men and women are who renounce themselves for the Kingdom of Heaven. Following in the footsteps of the crucified and risen Christ, they live this freedom as solidarity, taking on the spiritual and material burdens of their brothers and sisters.

This is the multiform "service of charity" that is exercised in the cloister, in hospitals, parishes and schools, among the poor and immigrants, in the new meeting places of the mission. In thousands of ways consecrated life is a manifestation of God's love in the world (cf. Apostolic Exhortation, Vita consecrata, chapter III).

With grateful hearts, let us praise God today for each of them. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may the Lord increasingly enrich his Church with this great gift. To the praise and glory of his Name and for the spread of his Kingdom. Amen!



Ash Wednesday, 5 March 2003

1. "Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast; / call a solemn assembly; / gather the people, notify the congregation" (Jl 2,15-16).

These words of the Prophet Joel, that we have just heard, emphasize the communal dimension of penance. Certainly, repentance can only come from the heart, that, according to biblical anthropology, is the "seat" of the deepest human inclinations. However, penitential acts should be lived together with the members of our community.

1418 Especially, at difficult moments, after a misfortune or when danger threatened, the Word of God on the lips of the prophets used to call believers to a penitential mobilization. All were called, no one was left out, from the elderly to infants; all were as one in imploring from God compassion and pardon (cf. Jl Jl 2,16-18).

2. The Christian community listens to this vigorous invitation to conversion as it gets ready to undertake the Lenten journey that begins with the ancient rite of the imposition of ashes. This gesture, that some might consider outmoded, certainly clashes with the modern mentality, but this forces us to look for its deeper meaning, to explain its effective impact.

As the priest places the ashes on the heads of the faithful, he repeats the phrase: "Remember ... you are dust and unto dust you shall return". To return to dust is the fate that human beings and animals seem to have in common. However the human being is not just flesh, but also spirit. If the flesh is destined to become dust, the spirit is made for immortality. In addition, the believer knows that Christ is risen, conquering death in his body. In hope the believer moves toward this future reality.

3. Receiving the ashes on the head, means recognizing that we are creatures, made of earth and destined to return to it (cf. Gn Gn 3,19); it also means proclaiming that we are sinners, in need of God's pardon in order to be able to live according to the Gospel (cf. Mk Mc 1,15); finally, it means reviving our hope in the definitive encounter with Christ in the glory and peace of Heaven.

This prospect of joy obliges believers to do everything possible to anticipate at the present time something of the future peace. This calls for the purification of heart and reinforcing of communion with God and with the brethren. This is the aim of the prayer and fasting to which, in the face of the threats of war looming on the horizon, I have invited the faithful. With prayer, we abandon ourselves totally into God's hands, and from him alone we await true peace. With fasting, we prepare our hearts to receive peace from the Lord, his greatest gift and the privileged sign of the coming of his Kingdom.

4. Prayer and fasting, however, must be accompanied by works of justice; conversion must be translated into welcome and solidarity. The ancient Prophet warns: "Is not this the fast that I choose; to loose the bonds of wickedness, / to undo the thongs of the yoke, / to let the oppressed go free, /and to break every yoke?" (Is 58,6).

There will be no peace on earth while the oppression of peoples, social injustices and existing economic imbalances continue. Yet for the great and hoped for structural changes, extrinsic initiatives and mediations are not enough; above all, we need the unanimous conversion of hearts to love.

5. "Return to me with all your heart" (Jl 2,12). We could say that the message of today's celebration is compressed into God's heartfelt exhortation to conversion.

The Apostle Paul repeats the invitation in the second reading: "We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.... Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation!" (II Cor 5,20; 6,2).

Dear brothers and sisters, now is the favourable time to review our attitude toward God and our brothers and sisters!

This is the day of salvation on which to examine in depth the criteria that guide us in our daily behaviour.

1419 Help us, Lord, to return with all our heart to you, the Way that leads to salvation, the Truth that sets us free, the Life that knows no death!


III Sunday of Lent, 23 March 2003

1. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son; whoever believes in him has eternal life" (chant before the Gospel, cf. Jn Jn 3,16). These words of the liturgy of the Third Sunday of Lent invite us to contemplate with the eyes of faith the great mystery which we will celebrate at Easter. It is the full and definitive gift of the love of God realized in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The mystery of redemption in which the faithful are called to participate was lived in an exceptional way by the new Blesseds whom today I have had the joy of elevating to the glory of the altars: Pierre Bonhomme, priest, founder of the Sisters of Our Lady of Calvary; María Dolores Rodríguez Sopeña, virgin, foundress of the Sopeña Catechetical Institute; María Caritas Brader, virgin, foundress of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate; Juana María Condesa Lluch, foundress of the Congregation of the Handmaids of Mary Immaculate; Ladislaus (László) Batthyány-Strattmann, layman, father of a family.

2. "The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Ps 18 [19],10). This naturally applies to Fr Pierre Bonhomme, who in listening to the Word of God, notably the Beatitudes and the accounts of the Passion of the Lord, with Mary's guidance, found the way to live in intimacy with Christ and imitate him. The meditation of the Scripture was the incomparable source of all his pastoral activity, especially of his dedication to the poor, the sick, deaf-mutes and the disabled for whom he founded the Institute of the "Sisters of Our Lady of Calvary". Following the example of the new Blessed, we can repeat, "My model will be Jesus Christ; I am delighted to be like him whom I love". May Fr Bonhomme encourage us to become familiar with Scripture, to love our Saviour in order to be his untiring witnesses by our words and our life.

3. "I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" (Ex 20,1). The great revelation of Sinai shows us God who redeems and frees from every slavery, then bringing his plan to fulfilment in the redeeming mystery of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. How can we fail to make this sublime message reach especially those who do not experience it in their hearts on account of their ignorance of the Gospel?

Dolores Rodríguez Sopeña felt this necessity and wished to respond to the challenge of making the redemption of Christ present in the world of work. For this reason, her goal was "to make all persons one sole family in Christ Jesus" (Constitutions of 1907).

This spirit is crystallized in the three foundations of the new Blessed: the Sopeña Lay Movement, the Institute of Women Catechists, called today Sopeña Catechists, and the Sopeña Social and Cultural Work. By means of these works, in Spain and in South America, a spirituality continues that fosters the building of a more just world proclaiming the saving message of Jesus Christ.

4. "Six days you shall labour and do all your work, the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the Lord" (Ex 20,9 Ex 20,10). The reading of Exodus that we have heard reminds us of the duty of work. We must collaborate in the work of the Creator with our endeavour and in this way make the world better and more human. However, in the 19th century, the introduction of the woman into salaried work outside the home increased the risks for her life of faith and for her human dignity.

Blessed Juana Condesa Lluch, guided by her exquisite religious sensitivity, realized this. She lived a profoundly Christian youth: assisted at daily Mass in the church of the Patriarch, united her faith to an assiduous prayer. In this way she was prepared to dedicate herself totally to the love of God, founding the Congregation of the Handmaids of Mary Immaculate who, faithful to her charism, continue to be involved in the advancement of working women.

5. "We preach Christ crucified ... the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1Co 1,23 1Co 1,24).

1420 In today's second reading, St Paul reports how he proclaimed Jesus Christ, even to those who were rather hoping for miracles or human wisdom. The Christian must always proclaim the Lord without pulling back before difficulties, no matter how great they are.

In the course of history numberless men and women have proclaimed the Kingdom of God in the whole world. Among them must be counted Mother Caritas Brader, the foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate.

From the contemplative life of the enclosed convent of Maria Hilf in her Swiss homeland, one day the new blessed set out, first in Ecuador and then in Colombia, to consecrate herself entirely to the Mission ad gentes (to the nations). With unlimited confidence in divine Providence, she founded schools and homes, above all in poor areas, and in this way spread a deep Eucharistic devotion.

At the moment of death, she said to her sisters, "Do not abandon the good works of the Congregation, the alms and great charity for the poor, great charity among the sisters, allegiance to the bishops and priests". Beautiful lesson of a missionary life dedicated to the service of God and of neighbour.

6. "The weakness of God is stronger than men" (
1Co 1,25). These words of the holy Apostle Paul also reflect the devotion and life style of Blessed Ladislaus Batthyány-Strattmann, father of a family and doctor. He used the rich inheritance of his noble family to give free care to the poor and to build two hospitals. His greatest interest was not material goods; nor even less were success and career the goals of his life. He taught and lived this in his family and so he was the best teacher of the faith for his children. Drawing his spiritual energy from the Eucharist, he showed as many, as divine Providence led to him, the source of his life and mission.

Blessed László Batthyány-Strattmann never placed earthly riches before our true good which is in heaven. May his example of family life and of generous Christian solidarity be an encouragement for all to follow the Gospel faithfully.

7. The holiness of the new Blesseds inspires us in turn to tend toward evangelical perfection, putting into practice all the words of Jesus. Here is an ascetical way of life that certainly is demanding, and yet possible for all.

May the Virgin Mary, Queen of all saints, support us with her maternal intercession. May the new Blesseds be our sure guides towards holiness. Amen.


13 April 2003

18th World Youth Day

"Behold, your mother!" (Jn 19,27)

1421 1. "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Mc 11,9).

The liturgy of Palm Sunday is like a formal entrance into Holy Week. It combines two contrasting moments: the welcome of Jesus in Jerusalem and the drama of the Passion; the festive "Hosanna" and the repeated cry: "Crucify him!"; the triumphal entry and the apparent defeat through death on the Cross. The liturgy thus anticipates the "hour" in which the Messiah was to suffer greatly, to be put to death, and on the third day to rise again (cf. Mt Mt 16,21), and prepares us to live fully the paschal mystery.

2. Rejoice, O daughter of Jerusalem! / Behold, your king comes to you" (Za 9,9). In welcoming Jesus, the city with the vivid memory of David rejoices; the city of the prophets, many of whom were to suffer martyrdom for the truth; the city of peace, which, down through the ages, has known violence, war and deportation.

In a certain way, Jerusalem can be considered the city-symbol of humanity, especially at this dramatic beginning of the third millennium that we are living. The Palm Sunday rites thus acquire a special eloquence of their own. The words of the Prophet Zechariah ring out as a consolation: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! / Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! / Behold, your king comes to you; /triumphant and victorious is he, / humble and riding on an ass, / ...the battle bow shall be cut off, / and he shall command peace to the nations" (Za 9,9-10). Today we are celebrating, for today Jesus, the King of peace, enters Jerusalem.

3. Then, on the descent from the Mount of Olives, the children and young people of Jerusalem ran to meet Christ, acclaiming him and waving festive branches of olive and palm.

Meeting him today are the young people of the whole world, who are celebrating the 18th World Youth Day in every diocesan community.

I greet you with great affection, dear young people of Rome, and also you, who have come on pilgrimage from various countries. I greet the many people in charge of youth ministry who are taking part in the Convention on the World Youth Days, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. And how could we fail to express our fraternal solidarity to your peers who are so sorely tried by war and violence in Iraq, in the Holy Land and in various other regions of the world?

Today, with faith and joy, we acclaim Christ who is our "King": the King of truth, freedom, justice and love. These are the four "pillars" on which it is possible to build true peace, just as Bl. Pope John XXIII wrote 40 years ago in his Encyclical Pacem in Terris. In spirit, I present to you, young people of the whole world, this historical Document, which is more timely than ever: read it, meditate on it, strive to put it into practice. Then you will be "blessed", because you will be true children of the God of peace (cf. Mt Mt 5,9).

4. Peace is the gift of Christ, which he obtained for us with the sacrifice of the Cross. To achieve it effectively it is necessary to climb with the divine Teacher up to Calvary. And who can guide us better in this ascent than Mary who, as she stood at the foot of the Cross, was given to us as our mother through the faithful apostle, St John? To help the young discover this marvellous spiritual reality, I chose as the theme of my Message for World Youth Day this year the words of the dying Christ: "Behold, your mother!" (Jn 19,27). Accepting this testament of love, John opened his home to Mary (cf. Jn Jn 19,27), that is, he welcomed her into his life, sharing with her a completely new spiritual closeness. The intimate bond with the Mother of the Lord will lead the "beloved disciple" to become the apostle of that Love that he drew from the Heart of Christ through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

5. "Behold, your mother!" Jesus addresses these words to each of you, dear friends. He also asks you to take Mary as your mother "into your home", to welcome her "as one of yours", because "she will discharge her ministry as a mother and train you and mould you until Christ is fully formed in you" (Message for WYD, n. 3; ORE, 19 March 2003, p. 6). May Mary make it so that you respond generously to the Lord's call, and persevere with joy and fidelity in the Christian mission!
Down through the centuries, how many young people have heard this invitation and how many continue to hear it in our time, too.

1422 Young people of the third millennium, do not be afraid to offer your lives as a total response to Christ! It is he, he alone who changes life and the history of the world.

6. "Truly this man was the Son of God!" (
Mc 15,39). We have once again listened to the clear profession of faith expressed by the centurion, who "saw that he thus breathed his last" (ibid.). What he had seen prompted the surprising witness of the Roman soldier, the first to proclaim that this crucified man "was the Son of God".

Lord Jesus, we too have "seen" how you suffered and died for us. Faithful until the last, you rescued us from death with your death. With your Cross you have redeemed us.

O Mary, sorrowful Mother, you are a silent witness of these decisive moments for the history of salvation.

Give us your eyes so that on the face of the crucified One, disfigured by pain, we may recognize the image of the glorious Risen One.

Help us to embrace him and entrust ourselves to him, so that we be made worthy of his promises.

Help us to be faithful today and throughout our lives. Amen!

S. John Paul II Homil. 1412