Wednesday 23 August 2000

1. Last week Rome experienced an unforgettable event: World Youth Day, which made a deep and vivid impression on everyone. It was a pilgrimage marked by joy, prayer and reflection.

The first sentiment we naturally feel in our heart is one of sincere gratitude to the Lord for this truly great gift, not only to our city and to the Church in Italy, but to the whole world. I also thank those who in various ways helped to bring about this meeting, which took place peacefully and with the greatest order. I once again express my gratitude to everyone: the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Central Committee for the Jubilee, the Italian Episcopal Conference, the Diocese of Rome, the civil and administrative authorities, the police force, the medical services, the University of Tor Vergata and the various volunteer organizations.

2. Our thoughts naturally turn to this truly extraordinary meeting, which exceeded all expectations and, I would say, even all human expectations. I feel an ardent desire to tell those young people again of my joy at being able to welcome them on the evening of the Solemnity of the Assumption in the squares at St John Lateran and St Peter's.

I still feel the deep emotion I experienced in taking part in the Saturday evening Vigil at Tor Vergata and in presiding at the solemn closing Mass the next day.

As I flew over that area by helicopter, I marvelled from above at a unique and impressive sight: an enormous human carpet of festive people, happy to be together. I will never be able to forget the enthusiasm of those young people. I would have liked to embrace them all and to express to each one the affection that ties me to the youth of our time, to whom the Lord entrusts a great mission in the service of the civilization of love.

What, or better who, did the young people come to seek if not Jesus Christ? What is World Youth Day if not a personal and community encounter with the Lord which reveals the true meaning of human existence? In fact, it is he who first seeks them out and calls them, as he seeks out and calls every human being in order to bring him to salvation and full happiness. At the end of the meeting, it was also he who entrusted to young people the special mission of being his witnesses in every corner of the world. These were days marked by the discovery of a friendly and faithful presence, that of Jesus Christ, as we celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of his birth.

42 3. The young people, with the enthusiasm typical of their age, replied that they intend to follow Jesus. They want to do so because they feel that they are a living part of the Church. They want to do so by walking together, because they regard themselves as the pilgrim People of God.

Their weakness does not frighten them because they count on the love and mercy of the heavenly Father, who sustains them in their daily lives. Beyond every race and culture, they feel like brothers and sisters linked by one faith, one hope, one and the same mission: to set the world on fire with God's love. The young people have shown that they have a need for meaning. They seek reasons for hope and hunger for authentic spiritual experiences.

May the message of World Youth Day be welcomed and reflected on by all who have taken part, as well as by their peers, who have followed the various phases and events through newspapers, radio and television!

The Gospel atmosphere experienced in those days must not be lost; on the contrary, it must continue to be the atmosphere of the youth communities and associations, of the parishes and Dioceses, especially during this Jubilee Year, which invites all believers to meet Christ, who died and rose for us.

I would like to repeat to all young people: be proud of the mission which the Lord has entrusted to you; carry it out with humble and generous perseverance. May you be sustained by the maternal help of Mary, who watched over you during the days of your Jubilee. Christ and his Church are counting on you!

I warmly welcome the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, especially those from England, the Philippines, Japan and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Before reciting the "Our Father" at the end of the Audience, the Holy Father said:

I would now ask you to pray for the 118 men who died on the Russian submarine Kursk. Most of them were young. As I express my deep sympathy for the grief of their relatives, I commend the victims to God's mercy, that he may welcome them into his peace.

Wednesday 30 August 2000

1. The Psalmist sings: "My wanderings you have counted" (
Ps 56,9). This short, essential sentence contains the history of man wandering through the desert of solitude, evil and aridity. With sin he has destroyed the wonderful harmony of creation established by God in the beginning: "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was something very good and beautiful", as the well-known text in Genesis might be rendered (Gn 1,31). Yet God is never far from his creature; on the contrary, he is always present deep within him, as St Augustine perceived so well: "Where were you then and how distant from me? I was wandering far from you.... But you were higher than my highest and more inward than my innermost self" (Confessions, 3, 6, 11).

However, the Psalmist had already described man's vain flight from his Creator in a stupendous hymn: "Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence where can I flee? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I sink to the nether world, you are present there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall guide me, and your right hand hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light' - For you darkness itself is not dark, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are the same" (Ps 139,7-12).

2. When God seeks out the rebellious son who flees far from his sight, he does so with particular insistence and love. God traveled the tortuous roads of sinners through his Son, Jesus Christ, who, bursting onto history's stage, is presented as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world" (Jn 1,29). Here are the first words he says in public: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Mt 4,17). An important term appears which Jesus will repeatedly explain in words and deeds: "Repent", in Greek metanoeite, that is, make a metanoia, a radical change of mind and heart. It is necessary to turn away from evil and to enter the kingdom of justice, love and truth which is being established.

The trilogy of parables on divine mercy collected by Luke in chapter 15 of his Gospel is the most striking depiction of how God actively seeks out and lovingly awaits his sinful creature. Through his metanoia or conversion man returns, like the prodigal son, to embrace the Father who has never forgotten or abandoned him.

3. In commenting on this parable of the father who is prodigal with his love towards the son who was prodigal with his sin, St Ambrose introduces the presence of the Trinity: "Rise, run to the Church: here is the Father, here is the Son, here is the Holy Spirit. He runs out to meet you, for he hears you as you reflect within the secrecy of your heart. And while you are still at a distance, he catches sight of you and starts to run. He sees into your heart, he runs out so that no one will detain you, and futhermore he embraces you.... He throws his arms around your neck, to lift up what had been lying on the ground and to enable someone oppressed by the burden of sin and looking down at earthly things to turn his gaze again to heaven, where he should have been seeking his Creator. Christ throws his arms around your neck because he wants to remove the yoke of slavery and put a gentle yoke upon it" (In Lucam VII, 229-230).

4. A person's encounter with Christ changes his life, as we are taught by the story of Zacchaeus which we heard at the beginning. The same thing happened to sinful men and women when Jesus crossed their path. On the Cross there is an extreme act of forgiveness and hope given to the evil-doer, who makes his metanoia when he arrives at the final frontier between life and death, and says to his companion: "we are receiving the due reward for our deeds" (Lc 23,41). To the one who implores him: "Remember me when you come in your kingly power", Jesus replies: "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise" (cf. Lc 23,42-43). Thus Christ's earthly mission, which began with the invitation to repent in order to enter the kingdom of God, ends with a conversion and an entry into his kingdom.

5. The Apostles' mission also began with a pressing invitation to conversion. Those who heard Peter's first address felt cut to the heart and anxiously asked "What should we do?". He said in reply: "Repent (metanoesate) and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Ac 2,37-38). Peter's answer was promptly accepted: "about three thousand souls" were converted that day (cf. Ac 2,41). After the miraculous healing of a crippled man, Peter exhorted them again. He reminded the residents of Jerusalem of their horrible sin: "You denied the Holy and Righteous One, ... and killed the Author of life" (Ac 3,14-15), but he mitigated their guilt, saying: "Now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance" (Ac 3,17); he then called them to conversion (cf. Ac 3,19) and gave them immense hope: "God sent him to you first, to bless you in turning every one of you from your wickedness" (Ac 3,26).

In a similar way, the Apostle Paul preached repentance. He says so in his address to King Agrippa, describing his apostolate as follows: "I declared" to everyone, "also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and perform deeds worthy of their repentance" (Ac 26,20 cf. 1Th 1,9-10)". Paul taught that "God's kindness is meant to lead [us] to repentance" (Rm 2,4). In the book of Revelation it is Christ himself who repeatedly urges repentance. Inspired by love (cf. Ap 3,19), the exhortation is vigorous and expresses all the urgency of repentance (cf. Ap 2,5 Ap 2,16 Ap 2,21-22 Ap 3,3 Ap 3,19), but is accompanied by wondrous promises of intimacy with the Saviour (cf. Ap 3,20-21).

The door of hope is therefore always open to every sinner. "Man is not left alone to attempt, in a thousand often frustrated ways, an impossible ascent to heaven. There is a tabernacle of glory, which is the most holy person of Jesus the Lord, where the divine and the human meet in an embrace that can never be separated. The Word became flesh, like us in everything except sin. He pours divinity into the sick heart of humanity, and imbuing it with the Father's Spirit enables it to become God through grace" (Orientale lumen, n. 15).

The Holy Father asked the faithful to pray for lasting peace in Burundi and the whole Great Lakes region of Africa:

Last Monday, 28 August, an initial, partial agreement was signed in Arusha, Tanzania, to restore peace to the beloved nation of Burundi, which has been soaked in blood from seven absurd years of civil war.

I ask you to pray that those peoples' desire for reconciliation will be accepted by all the parties concerned and the neighbouring States, and that a stable, lasting peace can soon be achieved for the benefit of the entire Great Lakes region.
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I warmly welcome the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, especially those from England, Ireland, Denmark, Malta, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

                                                                               September 2000

Wednesday 6 September 2000

1. The encounter with Christ radically changes a person's life, spurs him to metanoia or a profound conversion of mind and heart, and establishes a communion of life which becomes discipleship. In the Gospels, the following of Christ is expressed in two attitudes: the first consists in "going with" Christ (akolouthein); the second, in "walking behind" the One who leads, following in his footsteps and direction (erchesthai opiso). This gives rise to the figure of the disciple, which is realized in different ways. Some follow him in a still general and often superficial way, like the crowd (cf.
Mc 3,7 Mc 5,24 Mt 8,1). There are sinners (cf. Mc 2,14-15); the women who support Jesus' mission with their practical service are mentioned several times (cf. Lc 8,2-3 Mc 15,41). Some receive a specific calling from Christ, and among them a special place is reserved for the Twelve.

The typology of those called is thus quite varied: people involved in fishing and tax collectors, the honest and sinners, the married and the single, the poor and the wealthy, such as Joseph of Arimathea (cf. Jn 19,38), men and women. There is even Simon the Zealot (cf. Lc 6,15), that is, a member of the anti-Roman revolutionary opposition. And there were some who refused the invitation, like the rich young man who, at Christ's demanding words, was saddened and went away sorrowful, "for he had great possessions" (Mc 10,22).

2. The conditions for taking the same way as Jesus are few but fundamental. As we heard in the Gospel passage read a few moments ago; it is necessary to turn one's back on the past and make a clean break with it, a metanoia in the profound sense of the word: a change of mind and life.

Christ proposes a narrow way that demands sacrifice and total self-giving: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mc 8,34). It is a way that includes the thorns of suffering and persecution: "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you ... also" (Jn 15,20). It is one which makes missionaries and witnesses to Christ's word, but demands that his apostles take "nothing for their journey ... no bread, no bag, no money in their belts" (Mc 6,8 cf. Mt 10,9-10).

3. Discipleship, then, is not an easy journey on a level road. It can include moments of hardship to the point that on one occasion "many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him" (Jn 6,66), that is, with Jesus, who was compelled to challenge the Twelve with a crucial question: "Will you also go away?" (Jn 6,67). On another occasion, when Peter himself rebels against the prospect of the Cross, he is abruptly rebuked in words that, according to the nuance of the original text, could be an invitation to get "behind" Jesus again, after trying to reject the goal of the Cross: "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men" (Mc 8,33).

The risk of betrayal will be lurking for Peter who in the end, however, would follow his Master and his Lord with the most generous love. Peter, in fact, will make his profession of love on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you". And Jesus will tell him "by what death he was to glorify God", adding twice, "Follow me!" (Jn 21,17 Jn 21,19 Jn 21,22).
Discipleship is expressed in a special way in the beloved disciple, who enters into intimacy with Christ, receives his Mother as a gift and recognizes him after he has risen (cf. Jn 13,23-26 Jn 18,15-16 Jn 19,26-27 Jn 20,2-8 Jn 21,2 Jn 21,7 Jn 21,20-24).

4. The ultimate goal of discipleship is glory. The way is one of "imitating Christ", who lived in love and died for love on the Cross. The disciple "must, so to speak, enter into Christ with all his own self, he must "appropriate' and assimilate the whole of the reality of the incarnation and redemption in order to find himself" (Redemptor hominis RH 10). Christ must enter into his ego to free him from selfishness and pride, as St Ambrose says in this regard: "May Christ enter your soul, may Jesus dwell in your thoughts, to prevent sin from having any room in the sacred tent of virtue" (Comment on Psalm 118, letter "daleth", 26).

5. The Cross, sign of love and of total self-giving, is therefore the emblem of the disciple called to be configured to the glorious Christ. A Father of the Eastern Church, who was also an inspired poet, Romanus the Melodist, challenges the disciple in this way: "You have the Cross as your cane; rest all your youth on it. Bring it to your prayer, bring it to the common table, bring it with you to bed and everywhere, as your claim to glory.... Say to your spouse who is now joined to you: I throw myself at your feet. In your infinite mercy, give peace to your world, help to your Churches, concern to pastors and harmony to the flock, so that we may all sing of our resurrection forever" (Hymn 52 "To the newly baptized", strophes 19 and 22).
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I warmly welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Malta, Japan, the Philippines and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Wednesday 13 September 2000 - Christians are enlivened by the Holy Spirit


1. In the Upper Room, on the last evening of his earthly life, Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit five times (cf.
Jn 14,16-17 Jn 14,26 Jn 15,26-27 Jn 16,7-11 Jn 16,12-15). In the same place, the Risen One presents himself to the Apostles on Easter evening and pours out the promised Spirit with the symbolic act of breathing on them and with the words: "Receive the Holy Spirit!" (Jn 20,22). Fifty days later, also in the Upper Room, the Holy Spirit bursts in with his power, transforming the hearts and lives of the first Gospel witnesses.

Since then, the deepest dynamics of the Church's history have been imbued with the presence and action of the Spirit, "given not by measure" to those who believe in Christ (cf. Jn 3,34). The encounter with Christ involves the gift of the Holy Spirit who, in the words of Basil, the great Father of the Church, "is poured out on everyone without being diminished in any way, is present to each one of those who is capable of receiving it as if it were for him alone, and on all, he pours sufficient and complete grace (De Spiritu Sancto IX, 22).

2. The Apostle Paul, in the passage of the Letter to the Galatians which we have just heard (cf. Ga 5,16-18 Ga 5,22-25), describes "the fruit of the Spirit" (Ga 5,22) listing a broad range of virtues which flow into the life of the faithful. The Holy Spirit is at the root of the experience of faith. In fact, it is precisely in Baptism that through the Spirit that we become children of God: "because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!'" (Ga 4,6). At the very source of Christian life, when we are born as new creatures, is the breath of the Spirit who makes us children in the Son and enables us to "walk" on the paths of justice and salvation (cf. Ga 5,16).

3. All the events of Christian life must therefore take place under the influence of the Spirit. When he presents Christ's words to us, the light of truth shines within us, as Jesus promised: "the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jn 14,26 cf. Jn 16,12-15). The Spirit is beside us at the moment of trial, becoming our defender and our support: "When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Mt 10,19-20). The Spirit is at the root of Christian freedom, which is removal from the yoke of sin. The Apostle Paul clearly says so: "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death" (Rm 8,2). Precisely because moral life is irradiated by the Spirit, as St Paul reminds us, it produces fruits of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Ga 5,22).

4. The Spirit enlivens the entire community of believers in Christ. Once again, the Apostle celebrates as a work of the Holy Spirit the multiplicity and riches, as well as the unity of the Church, through the image of the body. On the one hand Paul lists the variety of charisms or special gifts which are offered to the Church's members (cf. 1Co 12,1-10); on the other, he asserts that "all these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills" (1Co 12,11). Indeed, "by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and all were made to drink of one Spirit" (1Co 12,13).

Lastly, it is to the Spirit that we are indebted for the attainment of our destiny of glory. In this regard, St Paul uses the images of the "seal" and the "guarantee": "you ... were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory" (Ep 1,13-14 cf. 2Co 1,22 2Co 5,5). To sum up, the whole of the Christian's life, from its origins to its final goal, is under the banner of the Holy Spirit and is his work.

5. I am pleased to recall during this Jubilee Year what I said in the Encyclical dedicated to the Holy Spirit: "The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 thus contains a message of liberation by the power of the Spirit, who alone can help individuals and communities to free themselves from the old and new determinisms, by guiding them with the "law of the Spirit, which gives life in Christ Jesus', and thereby discovering and accomplishing the full measure of man's true freedom. For, as St Paul writes, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom'" (Dominum et vivificantem DEV 60).

Let us therefore abandon ourselves to the liberating action of the Spirit, making our own the amazement of Symeon the New Theologian, who addresses the third divine Person in these words: "I see the beauty of your grace, I contemplate its radiance, I reflect its light; I am caught up in its ineffable splendour; I am taken outside myself as I think of myself; I see how I was and what I have become. O wonder! I am vigilant, I am full of respect for myself, of reverence and of fear, as I would be were I before you; I do not know what to do, I am seized by fear, I do not know where to sit, where to go, where to put these members which are yours; in what deeds, in what works shall I use them, these amazing divine marvels!" (Hymns, II, verses 19-27: cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata VC 20).

At the end of his catechesis, the Holy Father appealed for the life of Derek Rocco Barnabei, imprisoned in Virginia, USA.

In the spirit of clemency that is characteristic of the Jubilee Year, I once again add my voice to that of all those who are asking that young Derek Rocco Barnabei's life be spared.

I also hope, more generally, that we will reach the point of giving up recourse to capital punishment, since today the State has other means available to suppress crime effectively, without definitively depriving the offender of the possibility of redeeming himself.
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I extend a special greeting to the Jubilee pilgrimages from the Dioceses of Cloyne and Cork and Ross, led by Bishop John Magee; Derry, led by Bishop Séamus Hegarty and Emeritus Bishop Edward Daly; Aberdeen, led by Bishop Mario Conti; the Archdiocese of Dubuque, led by Archbishop Jerome Hanus; and the Diocese of Alexandria, led by Bishop Samuel Jacobs. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand and the United States of America, I invoke the abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday 20 September 2000

1. We have started our meeting under the sign of the Trinity, described incisively and clearly by the words of the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Galatians (cf.
Ga 4,4-7). The Father, in pouring out the Holy Spirit into Christians' hearts, brings about and reveals the adoption as sons obtained for us by Christ. Indeed, it is the Spirit who is "bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rm 8,16). Looking at this truth as at the Pole star of the Christian faith, let us meditate on some existential aspects of our communion with the Father through the Son and in the Spirit.

2. The typically Christian way of contemplating God always passes through Christ. He is the Way, and no one comes to the Father except through him (cf. Jn 14,6). To the Apostle Philip who implores him: "show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied", Jesus says: "he who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14,8-9). Christ, the beloved Son (cf. Mt 3,17 Mt 17,5), is the revealer of the Father par excellence. The true face of God is revealed to us only by the One "who is in the bosom of the Father". The original Greek expression in John's Gospel (cf. Jn 1,18) indicates an essentially intimate and dynamic relationship of love, of life, between the Son and the Father. This relationship of the eternal Word involves the human nature he took on in the Incarnation. Therefore in the Christian perspective the experience of God can never be reduced to a general "sense of the divine", nor can the mediation of Christ's humanity be surpassed, as has been shown by the great mystics, such as St Bernard, St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena, St Teresa of Avila and many lovers of Christ in our time, from Charles de Foucauld to St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein).

3. Various aspects of Jesus' witness with regard to the Father are reflected in every authentic Christian experience. He witnessed first of all that his teaching originates in the Father: "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me" (Jn 7,16). What he made known is exactly what he "heard" from the Father (cf. Jn 8,26 Jn 15,15 Jn 17,8 Jn 17,14). Therefore the Christian experience of God cannot develop except in total coherence with the Gospel.

Christ also witnessed effectively to the Father's love. In the wonderful Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus presents the Father who is constantly waiting for man the sinner to return to his embrace. In John's Gospel, he insists on the Father who loves mankind: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3,16). And again, "if a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (Jn 14,23). Those who truly experience God's love can only repeat with ever new emotion the exclamation in John's First Letter: "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are" (1Jn 3,1). In this light, we can address God with that tender, natural, intimate name: Abba, Father. It is constantly on the lips of the faithful who feel they are children, as St Paul recalls in the text with which our meeting began (cf. Ga 4,4-7).

4. Christ gives us the very life of God, a life that goes beyond time and leads us into the mystery of the Father, into his joy and infinite light. The Evangelist John testifies to this, passing on Jesus' sublime words: "For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself (Jn 5,26). "This is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.... As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me" (Jn 6,40 Jn 57).

This participation in the life of Christ, which makes us "sons in the Son" is made possible by the gift of the Spirit. The Apostle, in fact, presents to us our being children in God in close connection with the Holy Spirit: "all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Rm 8,14). The Spirit puts us in relation to Christ and to the Father. "In this Spirit, who is the eternal gift, the Triune God opens himself to man, to the human spirit. The hidden breath of the divine Spirit enables the human spirit to open in its turn before the saving and sanctifying self-opening of God.... In the communion of grace with the Trinity, man's "living area' is broadened and raised up to the supernatural level of divine life. Man lives in God and by God: he lives "according to the Spirit', and "sets his mind on the things of the Spirit'" (Dominum et Vivificantem DEV 58).

5. The fatherly face of God truly appears to Christians illumined by the grace of the Spirit. The Christian can turn to him with trust as St Thérèse of Lisieux witnesses in this intense autobiographical passage: "The little bird would like to fly towards the shining sun which fascinates its eyes. It would like to imitate the eagles, its sisters, whom it sees flying high to the divine fire of the Trinity.... However, alas! all that it can do is to flap its tiny wings; but taking off in flight is not one of its few possibilities.... So with bold abandon it stays gazing at its divine sun; nothing will be able to instil fear in it, neither wind, nor rain" (Autobiographical manuscripts, Paris 1957, p. 231).
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I am happy to extend a special greeting to the Jubilee pilgrimage from Melaka-Johor, Malaysia, led by Bishop James Chan. I also greet the Union of past pupils of the Pontifical Irish College, led by Archbishop Seán Brady. I warmly welcome the ecumenical groups, especially the Lutheran visitors from Sweden and the group sponsored by the Anglican Centre in Rome. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Japan, Malaysia, Australia and the United States of America I invoke the joy and peace of Christ the Saviour.

Wednesday 27 September 2000

1. According to the programme outlined in Tertio millennio adveniente, this Jubilee Year, the solemn celebration of the Incarnation, must be an "intensely Eucharistic" year (Tertio millennio adveniente
TMA 55). Therefore, after having fixed our gaze on the glory of the Trinity that shines on man's path, let us begin a catechesis on that great yet humble celebration of divine glory which is the Eucharist. Great, because it is the principal expression of Christ's presence among us "always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20); humble, because it is entrusted to the simple, everyday signs of bread and wine, the ordinary food and drink of Jesus' land and of many other regions. In this everyday nourishment, the Eucharist introduces not only the promise but the "pledge" of future glory: "futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur" (St Thomas Aquinas, Officium de festo corporis Christi). To grasp the greatness of the Eucharistic mystery, let us reflect today on the theme of divine glory and of God's action in the world, now manifested in the great events of salvation, now hidden beneath humble signs which only the eye of faith can perceive.

2. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word kabód indicates the revelation of divine glory and of God's presence in history and creation. The Lord's glory shines on the summit of Sinai, the place of revelation of the divine Word (cf. Ex 24,16). It is present in the sacred tent and in the liturgy of the People of God on pilgrimage in the desert (cf. Lv 9,23). It dominates in the temple, the place - as the Psalmist says - "where your glory dwells" (Ps 26,8). It surrounds all the chosen people as if in a mantle of light (cf. Is 60,1): Paul himself knows that "they are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants..." (Rm 9,4).

3. This divine glory, which is manifest to Israel in a special way, is present in the whole world, as the prophet Isaiah heard the seraphim proclaim at the moment of receiving his vocation: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory" (Is 6,3). Indeed, the Lord reveals his glory to all peoples, as we read in the Psalter: "all the peoples behold his glory" (Ps 97,6). Therefore, the enkindling of the light of glory is universal, so that all humanity can discover the divine presence in the cosmos.

It is especially in Christ that this revelation is fulfilled, because he "reflects the glory" of God (He 1,3). It is also fulfilled through his works, as the Evangelist John testifies with regard to the sign of Cana: Christ "manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him" (Jn 2,11). He also radiates divine glory through his word which is divine: "I have given them your word", Jesus says to the Father; "the glory which you have given me, I have given to them" (Jn 17,14 Jn 17,22). More radically, Christ manifests divine glory through his humanity, assumed in the Incarnation: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (Jn 1,14).

4. The earthly revelation of the divine glory reaches its apex in Easter which, especially in the Johannine and Pauline writings, is treated as a glorification of Christ at the right hand of the Father (cf. Jn 12,23 Jn 13,31 Jn 17,1 Ph 2,6-11 Col 3,1 1Tm 3,16). Now the paschal mystery, in which "God is perfectly glorified" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 7), is perpetuated in the Eucharistic sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection entrusted by Christ to the Church, his beloved Spouse (cf. ibid., SC 47). With the command "Do this in remembrance of me" (Lc 22,19), Jesus assures the presence of his paschal glory in all the Eucharistic celebrations which will mark the flow of human history. "Through the Holy Eucharist the event of Christ's Pasch expands throughout the Church.... By communion with the Body and Blood of Christ, the faithful grow in that mysterious divinization which by the Holy Spirit makes them dwell in the Son as children of the Father" (John Paul II and Moran Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Joint Declaration, 23 June 1984, n. 6: Enchiridion Vaticanum, 9, 842).

5. It is certain that today we have the loftiest celebration of divine glory in the liturgy: "Since Christ's death on the Cross and his resurrection constitute the content of the daily life of the Church and the pledge of his eternal Passover, the liturgy has as its first task to lead us untiringly back to the Easter pilgrimage initiated by Christ, in which we accept death in order to enter into life" (Apostolic Letter Vicesimus quintus annus, n. 6). Now, this task is exercised first of all through the Eucharistic celebration which makes present Christ's Passover and communicates its dynamism to the faithful. Thus Christian worship is the most vivid expression of the encounter between divine glory and the glorification which rises from human lips and hearts. The way we "glorify the Lord generously" (Si 35,8) must correspond to "the glory of the Lord that filled the tabernacle" (cf. Ex 40,34).

6. As St Paul recalls, we must also glorify God in our bodies, that is, in our whole existence, because our bodies are temples of the Spirit who is within us (cf. 1Co 6,19). In this light one can also speak of a cosmic celebration of divine glory. The world created, "so often disfigured by selfishness and greed", has in itself a "Eucharistic potential": it is "destined to be assumed in the Eucharist of the Lord, in his Passover, present in the sacrifice of the altar" (Orientale lumen, n. 11). The choral praise of creation will then respond, in harmonious counterpoint, to the breath of the glory of the Lord which is "above the heavens" (Ps 113,4) and shines down on the world in order that "in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen!" (1P 4,11).
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I warmly welcome the Jubilee pilgrimages from the Dioceses of Sioux Falls, led by Bishop Robert Carlson; Providence, led by Bishop Louis Gelineau; Trenton, led by Bishop John Smith; and Portland, led by Bishops Joseph Gerry and Michael Cote. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Denmark, the Philippines and the United States of America, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                                                                               October 2000