S. John Paul II Homil. 1442



Basilica of St John Lateran

Thursday, 19 June 2003

1. "Ecclesia de Eucharistia vivit" - "The Church draws her life from the Eucharist". The Encyclical Letter on the Eucharist, which I signed last Holy Thursday during the Mass of the Lord's Supper, begins with these words. Today's Solemnity of "Corpus Christi" recalls that evocative celebration and at the same time makes us relive the intense atmosphere of the Last Supper.

1443 "Take; this is my body... This is my blood"(Mc 14,22-24). Let us listen again to Jesus' words while he offers his disciples the bread that has become his Body and the wine that has become his Blood. In this way he inaugurates the new paschal rite: the Eucharist is the sacrament of the new and eternal Covenant.

With those acts and words, Christ brings to fulfilment the long ordinances of the ancient rites, mentioned just now in the First Reading (cf. Ex Ex 24,3-8).

2. The Church returns constantly to the Upper Room as to the place of her birth. She returns to it because the Eucharistic gift establishes a mysterious "oneness in time" between the Passover of the Lord and the perennial making present of the paschal mystery in the world and in every generation (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia EE 5).

This evening too, with deep gratitude to God, let us reflect in silence before the mystery of faith - mysterium fidei. Let us contemplate it with that profound feeling which, in the Encyclical, I called "Eucharistic amazement" (ibid., n. 6): immense and grateful wonder at the Sacrament in which Christ wanted "to concentrate" forever his entire mystery of love (cf. ibid., n. 5).

Let us contemplate the Eucharistic face of Christ, as did the Apostles and later, the saints of all the centuries. Let us contemplate him above all by learning at the school of Mary, "woman "of the Eucharist' in her whole life" (ibid., n. 53), the One who was "the first "tabernacle' in history" (ibid., n. 55).

3. This is the meaning of the beautiful tradition of Corpus Christi which is renewed this evening. With it, the Church that is in Rome also shows her constitutive link with the Eucharist, and professes joyfully that she "draws her life from the Eucharist".

Her Bishop, the Successor of Peter, and his Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood also draw their life from the Eucharist; men and women Religious, consecrated lay people and the baptized all draw their life from the Eucharist.

Christian families in particular, to whom a few days ago the Diocesan Ecclesial Convention was dedicated, draw their life from the Eucharist. Dear families of Rome! May the living presence of Christ in the Eucharist foster the grace of marriage in you and allow you to progress on the path of conjugal and family holiness. Draw from this wellspring the secret of your unity and love, imitating the example of the Blessed husband and wife, Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrochi, who began their days by partaking in the Eucharistic Banquet.

4. After Holy Mass, we will set out praying and singing for the Basilica of St Mary Major. With this procession we want to express symbolically our existence as pilgrims, "viatores", bound for the heavenly homeland.

We are not alone on our pilgrimage: Christ, the Bread of life, walks with us: "panis angelorum, factus cibus viatorum" - "Lo the angel's food is given to the pilgrim..." (Sequence).

May Jesus, the spiritual food that nourishes the hope of believers, sustain us on this journey towards Heaven and strengthen our communion with the heavenly Church.

1444 The Most Holy Eucharist, a glimpse of Heaven appearing on earth, pierces the clouds of our history. A glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem, it lights up our journey (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia EE 19).

5. "Ave verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine": Hail, true Body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary!

The soul melts into wonder and adoration before so sublime a Mystery.

"Vere passum, immolatum in cruce pro homine". From your death on the Cross, O Lord, flows life for us which never dies.

"Esto nobis praegustatum mortis in examine". O Lord, obtain that each one of us, nourished by you, may face all of life's trials with confident hope, until the day when you will be our viaticum for the last journey to the Father's house.

"O Iesu dulcis! O Iesu pie! O Iesu, fili Mariae! - O sweet Jesus, O pious Jesus! O Jesus, Son of Mary!".





Banja Luka

Sunday, 22 June 2003

1. "You are the light of the world". Jesus today repeats these words for us, dear brothers and sisters, for our liturgical assembly. They are not simply a moral exhortation. They are a statement of fact which expresses an essential requirement flowing from the reception of Baptism.

By virtue of this sacrament human beings become members of the Mystical Body of Christ (cf. Rom Rm 6,3-5). The Apostle Paul states: "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Ga 3,27). Saint Augustine rightly exclaimed: "Let us rejoice and give thanks: we have become not only Christians but Christ himself… Marvel and rejoice, for we have become Christ" (In Ioann. Evang. Tract. 21:8, CCL 36:216).

Christ is "the true light that enlightens every man" (Jn 1,9). Christians for their part are called to become a reflection of this Light by following and imitating Jesus. For this reason they will listen to and meditate on Christ’s word, take conscious and active part in the Church’s liturgical and sacramental life, and carry out the commandment of love by serving their brothers and sisters, especially the helpless, the poor and the suffering.

1445 2. I greet with affection the Bishop of Banja Luka and President of the Episcopal Conference, the Most Reverend Franjo Komarica, and I thank him for his cordial words of greeting at the beginning of this Eucharistic celebration. My respectful greeting also goes to the other Bishops of Bosnia-Hercegovina, and in particular to Cardinal Vinko Pulijc, the Archbishop of Vhrbosna and a native of this Diocese, and to the other Cardinals and Bishops who join us. I greet in the Lord all the pilgrims who have gathered here from different parts of this country and from neighbouring nations.

I send a fraternal greeting to His Beatitude Patriarch Pavle and the Members of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The new vitality recently gained in our journey towards mutual understanding, reciprocal respect and fraternal solidarity is a cause for joy and hope for this region.

My greetings go also to the members of the other Ecclesial Communities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and to the members of the Jewish community and the Islamic community.

I greet the Honourable Members of the Presidency of Bosnia-Hercegovina and all the other civil and military Authorities. I very much appreciate your presence and I thank you for all that you have contributed to the organization of my visit to your country.

Finally to you, the beloved sons and daughters of this pilgrim Church in Bosnia-Hercegovina, I open wide my arms in order to embrace you and tell you that you have an important place in the Pope’s heart. He constantly brings before the Lord in prayer the sufferings which still burden your journey and he shares with you in hope the expectation of better days.

From this city, marked in the course of history by so much suffering and bloodshed, I ask Almighty God to have mercy on the sins committed against humanity, human dignity and freedom also by children of the Catholic Church, and to foster in all the desire for mutual forgiveness. Only in a climate of true reconciliation will the memory of so many innocent victims and their sacrifice not be in vain, but encourage everyone to build new relationships of fraternity and understanding.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, the just man, surrounded by divine light, becomes in turn a lamp which radiates light and gives warmth. This is what we learn today from the figure of Ivan Merz.

A gifted young man, he made a good return on his rich natural talents and obtained great human success: it can be said that he had a very successful life. But that is not the reason why he is today declared Blessed. What makes him one of the choir of the Beati is his success in God’s eyes. The great aspiration of his whole life was "never to forget God, to desire always to be one with him". In all his activities Ivan Merz sought "the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus" and he allowed Christ to make him his own (cf. Phil
Ph 3,8).

4. At the school of the liturgy, the source and summit of the Church’s life (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 10), Ivan Merz grew to the fullness of Christian maturity and became one of the principal promotors of the liturgical renewal in his country.

Taking part in Mass and drawing nourishment from the Body of Christ and the Word of God, he drew the inspiration to become an apostle of young people. It was not by chance that he chose as his motto "Sacrifice – Eucharist – Apostolate". Conscious of the vocation he had received in Baptism, he made his whole life a "race" towards holiness, the "high standard" of Christian life (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 31). For this reason, as the First Reading says, "his memory will not disappear, and his name will live through all generations" (Si 39,9).

5. The name of Ivan Merz has meant in the past a programme of life and of activity for an entire generation of young Catholics. Today too it must do the same! Your country and your Church, dear young people, have experienced difficult times and now there is a need to work together so that life on all levels will fully return to normal. I therefore appeal to each of you; I invite you not to step back, not to yield to the temptation to become discouraged, but to multiply initiatives which will make Bosnia-Hercegovina once more a land of reconciliation, encounter and peace.

1446 The future of this land depends also on you! Do not seek a more comfortable life elsewhere, do not flee from your responsibilities and expect others to resolve problems, but resolutely counter evil with the power of good.

Like Blessed Ivan, strive for a personal encounter with Christ which sheds new light on life. May the Gospel be the great ideal guiding your approaches and your decisions! Thus you will become missionaries in word and deed, signs of God’s love and credible witnesses of the merciful presence of Christ. Never forget: "one does not light a lamp and put it under a bushel" (cf. Mt
Mt 5,15).

6. Dear brothers and sisters who take part with such fervour in this celebration, may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, keep your heart and your spirit in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!

This is the prayer and the wish which, through the intercession of Blessed Ivan Merz, the Pope today offers for you and for all the peoples of Bosnia-Hercegovina.



Saturday, 28 June 2003

1. "You are Christ, the Son of the living God. Blessed are you, Simon: the Father has revealed it to you" (Antiphon 1).

This Antiphon opens the Psalmody for the First Vespers of the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul. Its words take us back to the dialogue between Jesus and Simon Peter at Cesarea Philippi. They ceaselessly echo in this Basilica, as though they were recorded in the stones, in the mosaics, and especially in this central place known as the "Confessio".

You are Christ! - the Successor of Peter repeats this evening, together with his Brother Bishops, the priests and the Christian people of Europe and of every corner of the earth. He proclaims this fundamental truth of the Christian faith forcefully and with deep joy. Christ alone is the Redeemer of man, Christ alone is our hope.

2. "Jesus Christ, alive in his Church, source of hope for Europe". This was the theme of the second Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishps, which took place in the Vatican from 1 to 23 October 1999.

I rejoice this evening to sign and to present the Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa", which collects and compiles what emerged during this important Synodal Assembly.

The brief biblical reading we have heard - the beginning of the Letter to the Romans - puts this act into the broadest and most authentic perspective of the evangelizing mission of the Church, modelled on that of the Apostles. In particular, the three features with which St Paul describes himself to the Christian community of Rome can apply in a broad sense to the whole Church, which is, precisely, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart to proclaim the Gospel of God (cf. Rom Rm 1,1).

1447 To Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte and to the General Secreteriat of the Synod of Bishops, as well as to all who cooperated in the organization of the Assembly of the Synod for Europe in 1999, laying then the foundations for this Document, I express my deepest and most heartfelt gratitude.
I greet the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops present, as well as the priests, men and women Religious and lay people who have gathered here for this solemn celebration. I also extend my fraternal greeting to the delegation sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, led by venerable Archbishop Demetrios of America. Furthermore, we are comforted by the knowledge that they share with us the same concern for the safeguard and promotion of the moral values of the new Europe.

3. "Jesus Christ, alive in his Church". That Christ is alive in his Church is clear from the 2,000-year-old history of Christianity. From the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean, the Gospel message continued to spread throughout the Roman Empire and was later grafted on to the multiple ethnic and cultural branches that existed on the European continent. To all of these the Church - called, precisely, "catholic" - communicated the one and universal message of Christ.

The "Good News" was and continues to be a source of life for Europe. If it is true that Christianity cannot be restricted to any particular culture but converses with each one, to help them all to express their best qualities in every field of knowledge and human action, then the Christian roots of Europe are the main guarantee of its future. Could a tree that had no roots grow and develop? Europe, do not forget your history!

4. "Jesus Christ, source of hope for Europe. Down through the ages the purity of the Gospel sap has unfortunately been polluted, due to the shortcomings and sins of some members of the Church. For this very reason I felt the need during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 to express the request for pardon, especially for certain painful divisions that occurred precisely in Europe and wounded the Mystical Body of Christ.

However, in the 20th century, the Holy Spirit has brought forth a new springtime which the witness of many saints and martyrs made fruitful. The Second Vatican Council was responsible for a profound spiritual renewal.

5. "You are Christ, the Son of the living God".The Church has not been without Peter's profession of faith, despite the difficulties and trials that have strewn the 2,000-year-old path of the Christian people.

The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation which this evening I am symbolically presenting to the Bishops, priests and deacons, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful of Europe, is an invitation to renew this boundless loyalty to Christ and to his Gospel. You alone, Jesus Christ, alive in your Church, are the source of hope!

We proclaim you present on the European continent, from the Atlantic to the Urals. Together we commit ourselves to witnessing to you, following your example with the help of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and the holy Patrons: Benedict, Cyril and Methodius, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein.

May Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Mother of Christ our Hope, sustain us from Heaven. Amen.


Sunday, 29 June 2003

1448 1. "The Lord stood by me and gave me strength" (II Tim 4: 17).

This is how St Paul describes to Timothy the experience he had during his Roman imprisonment. These words, however, can be applied to the entire missionary life of the Apostle of the Gentiles, as well as to the life of St Peter. This is testified to in today's liturgy, in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles, which describes Peter's miraculous release from Herod's prison and a probable death sentence.

The First and Second Readings, therefore, shed light on God's providential design for these two Apostles. The Lord himself will lead them to the fulfilment of their mission, a fulfilment that would take place precisely here, in Rome, where these his chosen ones gave their lives for his sake, making the Church fertile with their blood.

2. "And they became the friends of God" (Entrance Antiphon). Friends of God! The word "friends" is particularly eloquent when we think that it was spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper: "No longer do I call you servants...", he said, "but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" (
Jn 15,15).

Peter and Paul were "friends of God" in a unique way, for they had drunk the cup of the Lord. Jesus changed the names of both when he called them to his service: to Simon he gave the name Cephas, that is, "rock", hence Peter; He gave Saul the name of "Paul", which means "little one".

Today's Preface compares them: "Peter, who first professed faith in Christ, Paul, who enlightened the depths of the mystery; the fisherman of Galilee who founded the first community with the righteous of Israel, the teacher and doctor who proclaimed salvation to all the Gentiles".

3. "Blessed is the Lord who sets his friends free" (Responsorial Psalm). If we think of the personal vocation and history of the two Apostles Peter and Paul, we note that the apostolic and missionary zeal of each one was in proportion to the depth of his conversion. Tested by the bitter experience of human misery, the Lord delivered them.

Through the humiliation of his denial and the abundance of tears which purified him inwardly, Simon became Peter, that is, the "rock": strengthed by the power of the Spirit, three times he declared to Jesus that he loved him, and he received the mandate to tend his sheep (cf. Jn Jn 21,15-17).

Saul had a similar experience: the very Lord he was persecuting (cf. Acts Ac 9,5) "called [him] through his grace" (Ga 1,15), blinding him with a dazzling light on the road to Damascus. In this way the Lord freed him from his prejudices and radically transformed him, making him "a chosen instrument" to carry Christ's name to all the Gentiles (cf. Acts Ac 9,15).

So it was that they both became "friends of the Lord".

4. Dear and venerable Brothers, Metropolitan Archbishops who have come to receive the Pallium, the personal lives of each one of you differ, but Christ has listed all of you among his "friends".

1449 As I prepare to confer upon you this traditional liturgical emblem which you will wear at solemn celebrations as a sign of communion with the Apostolic See, I invite you to think of it always as a reminder of the sublime friendship of Christ which we have the honour and joy of sharing. In the name of the Lord, make yourselves, in turn, "friends" of those whom God has entrusted to you.

Your episcopal Sees are located in various parts of the World: imitating the Good Shepherd, be watchful and attentive to each of your communities. Take my cordial greeting back to them, with the assurance that the Pope is praying for them all, and especially for those who are subjected to harsh trials and are beset with the greatest of difficulties.

5. The joy of today's feast is enhanced by the presence of the Delegation again sent this year by His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch. It is led by my venerable Brother, Archbishop Demetrios of America. Welcome, dear and venerable Brothers! I greet you in the name of the Lord and I ask you to convey my kiss of peace to my beloved Brother in Christ, Patriarch Bartholomew.

As time has passed, our reciprocal exchange of delegations for the feast of St Andrew in Constantinople and for that of Sts Peter and Paul in Rome has become an eloquent sign of our commitment to strive for full unity.

The Lord, who is familiar with our weaknesses and our waverings, promises us his help, so that we may overcome the obstacles that prevent us from concelebrating the one Eucharist. Therefore, venerable Brothers, welcoming you and having you beside me at this solemn liturgical encounter strengthens the hope and concretizes the longing which spurs us onwards toward full communion.

6. "With different gifts they have built the one Church" (Preface). This assertion, applied to the Apostles Peter and Paul, even seems to emphasize the commitment to spare no efforts in the search for unity, in response to the invitation which Jesus repeated several times in the Upper Room, "ut unum sint!".

As Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, I renew today, in the evocative context of this feast, my full willingness to put myself at the service of communion among all the disciples of Christ. Help me, dear Brothers and Sisters, with the constant support of your prayers. Invoke for me the heavenly intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

May God grant us to fulfil the mission he has entrusted to us, faithful to the last day, to form one heart and one soul in the unity of his love (cf. Prayer after Communion). Amen!




Banská Bystrica

Friday, 12 September 2003

1. “My heart rejoices in the Lord” (Resp. psalm ). It is with deep joy and profound gratitude to God that I join you in this square, dear Brothers and Sisters, to celebrate today the memorial of the Holy Name of Mary.

1450 The place where we are assembled is especially meaningful in the history of your city. It calls to mind the respect and devotion of your Ancestors towards Almighty God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the same time it recalls the attempt to profane this precious inheritance, perpetrated by a bleak regime of not so many years ago. To all of this the column of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a silent witness.

I greet you all most affectionately: in the first place your Bishop, the Most Reverend Rudolf Baláž, whom I thank for his warm words of welcome. I greet the Auxiliary Bishop, the Most Reverend Tomáš Gális. I also greet the priests, the men and women religious, the seminarians and the laypeople who in different fields of endeavour are the living strength of this Diocesan Church. Finally I greet all who have come from neighbouring Dioceses and countries.

With respectful cordiality my greeting goes to the President of the Republic and to the civil and military authorities present. I thank all for the invaluable help they have given in preparing this journey of mine.

2. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (
Lc 1,38), says Mary in the Gospel passage which we have just heard. She speaks to the Angel Gabriel who communicates to her God’s call to become the mother of his Son. The Incarnation of the Word is the decisive moment in that “project” made known by God from the beginning of human history, after the first sin. His will is to communicate to mankind his very life, by calling men and women to become his children. This call awaits the response of each person. God does not impose salvation; he proposes it as an initiative of love, to which one must reply by free choice, prompted by love.

The dialogue between the Angel and Mary, between heaven and earth, is in this sense paradigmatic: let us draw from it some indications for ourselves.

3. The Angel reveals God’s expectations for the future of mankind. Mary replies by drawing attention responsibly to her present situation: she is engaged to Joseph, promised as his spouse (cf. Lk Lc 1,34). Mary does not raise objections to the future prepared by God; she asks for light on the present human circumstances in which she is involved. God responds to her request by entering into dialogue with her. He wishes to deal with persons who are responsible and free.

In all this, what is the lesson for us? Mary shows us the path towards a mature freedom. In our days, many baptised Christians have not yet made the faith their own in an adult and conscious way. They call themselves Christians and yet they do not respond in a fully responsible way to the grace they have received; they still do not know what they want and why they want it.

This is the lesson to be learned today: an education to freedom is urgently needed. Especially in the family, parents must educate their children to a correct freedom, so as to prepare them to respond properly to God’s call. The family is the nursery where the little plants, the new generations, are nurtured. In the family the future of the Nation is forged.

From this perspective, I pray that the Diocesan Synod which you are about to celebrate, will be a favourable occasion for relaunching the pastoral ministry to families and for finding ever new ways of proclaiming the Gospel to the new generations of this noble Land of Slovakia.

4. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word” (Lc 1,38). Mary believes and therefore she says “yes”. Her faith becomes life; it becomes a commitment to God, who fills her with himself through her divine motherhood. It becomes a commitment to her neighbour, who awaits her help in the person of her cousin Elisabeth (cf. Lk Lc 1,39-56). Mary abandons herself freely and consciously to God’s initiative, which will achieve in her his “marvellous things”: mirabilia Dei.

With the Virgin Mary’s example before us, we are invited to reflect: God has a project for each of us, he “calls” everyone. What is important is knowing how to recognise this call, how to accept it and how to be faithful to it.

1451 5. My dear Brothers and Sisters, let us make room for God! In the variety and richness of diverse vocations, each one is called, like Mary, to accept God into one’s own life and to travel along the paths of the world with him, proclaiming his Gospel and bearing witness to his love.

May this be the resolution that we all make together today and that we place confidently in Mary’s maternal hands. May her intercession obtain for us the gift of a strong faith that makes clear the scope of our life and enlightens our mind, our spirit and our heart.

I entrust to the Virgin Mary your Diocese of Banská Bystrica, your Bishop, the priests, the men and women Religious and all of you. Amen!

Before imparting the Apostolic Blessing at the end of the Eucharistic Celebration, the Holy Father said in Slovak:

Thank you for your beautiful singing, for the liturgy and for the square that has been so nicely decorated. I warmly thank you for this common celebration of the Eucharist. I bless you all. Slovakia was and always will be faithful to Christ and the Church. Thank you for your witness. I greet the young people; you are the future of Banská Bystrica.

The Holy Father ended in Polish:

I would like to offer my cordial greeting to the Cardinal of Kraków and the pilgrims from Poland. Dear brothers and sisters, you have come to Banská Bystrica with your Slovak brothers and sisters to celebrate and glorify the Good Lord together with the Pope. May the faith, hope and love that have brought us together here, always unite our actions for the common good. May God bless us!





Saturday, 13 September 2003

1. “I beg you brothers to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ep 4,1). The pressing invitation of the Apostle Paul to the Christian community of Ephesus takes on special meaning for us congregated here. To every believer is entrusted, in the diversity of vocations and charisms, the task of being both disciple and apostle: disciple, by humbly listening to the word that saves; apostle by giving passionate witness of a life formed by the Gospel.

A Slovak proverb says: “Words admonish, examples move”. Yes, dear Brothers and Sisters, you too, with the “style” of your Christian life, can make a great contribution to the evangelisation of today’s world and to the construction of a more just and more fraternal society. And so I say with the Apostle Paul: “Consider your calling” (1Co 1,26).

1452 2. With affection, in the name of the Lord, I greet all of you, sons and daughters of this local Church, beginning with your Bishop, the Most Reverend Eduard Kojnok, whom I thank for the cordial words of welcome extended to me, together with his Coadjutor, Bishop Vladimír Filo. I am pleased to see the Bishops present and the pilgrims who have come from other Dioceses. I greet the civil and military authorities, especially the President of the Slovak Republic. I thank all of you for the welcome offered to me and for the many efforts dedicated to the preparation of my visit.

in Hungarian

I wish to address a special word to the Hungarian-speaking community so numerous in this region and an integrated part of this Diocese. Proud of your traditions, dear Brothers and Sisters, and faithful to the teachings of your Ancestors, you keep your faith firm and your hope alive and you draw strength from your attachment to Christ and to his Church. Your presence constantly enriches Slovakia, and I know that the Pastors of this local Church are attentive to meet your spiritual aspirations, while always safeguarding ecclesial unity, a factor of human and spiritual growth for the entire Slovak society.

In Slovak:

3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, my journey from Bratislava and from Košice, gave me the opportunity to admire vast cultivated areas, which are a witness to your work and effort. My thoughts go with great sympathy to all who are dedicated to agriculture and who by their dedication offer an indispensable contribution to the life of the Nation. I greet you with affection. In the Gospel parable which we have just heard proclaimed, Jesus compares himself to the sower, who sows the seed of his word confidently in the soil of human hearts.

The fruit does not depend on the seed alone, but also on the diverse conditions of the soil, that is to say, on each one of us. Let us listen to the explanation of the parable that Jesus himself has given. The seed eaten up by the birds calls to mind the intervention of the Evil One who brings to the heart misunderstanding of God’s way (cf. Mk
Mc 8,33), which is always the way of the Cross.

The seed without roots describes that situation in which the Word is only externally received, without that deep allegiance to Christ and personal love for him (cf. Col Col 2,7), which alone would allow it to be retained.

The choked seed symbolises the worries of the present life, the attraction of power, affluence, pride.

4. The word does not bear fruit automatically, even though it is divine –and therefore all-powerful–; it adapts to the conditions of the soil, or better, it accepts the response that the soil gives, which can also be negative. This is a Mystery of God’s condescension, who goes so far even as to place himself completely in human hands! Because in reality, the seed fallen on the different soils is Jesus himself (cf. Jn Jn 12,24).

Reading this parable and the explanation given by Jesus to his disciples arouses in us a necessary reflection. We, Dear Brothers and Sisters, are the soil in which the Lord tirelessly plants the seed of his word and his love. With what attitude do we receive it? How much fruit do we allow it to bring forth?

5. Saint John Chrysostom, whose memorial we celebrate in today’s liturgy, writes: “I have with me his word; this is my staff, my protection… This is my strength and my defence” (cf. Homilies before Exile, 1-3: ).

1453 The Pope entrusts to all of you today the treasure of this word; just like a confident sower who plants in the secret of each heart the “good news” of the Kingdom. Be the good and fruitful soil which, with the abundance of its produce, comforts the expectations of the Church and of the world.

“Human efforts are useless when not blessed by God”, says wisely another one of your proverbs. I invoke therefore upon you and upon your commitment to the Christian way of life the abundant blessings of the Most High.

Be faithful to God, observe his commandments. Defend life and be faithful to the Church and to your nation, Slovakia. Amen!

S. John Paul II Homil. 1442