S. John Paul II Homil. 1174



Sunday, 3 September 2000

1. In the context of the Jubilee Year, it is with deep joy that I have declared blessed two Popes, Pius IX and John XXIII, and three other servants of the Gospel in the ministry and the consecrated life: Archbishop Tommaso Reggio of Genoa, the diocesan priest William Joseph Chaminade and the Benedictine monk Columba Marmion.

Five different personalities, each with his own features and his own mission, all linked by a longing for holiness. It is precisely their holiness that we recognize today: holiness that is a profound and transforming relationship with God, built up and lived in the daily effort to fulfil his will. Holiness lives in history and no saint has escaped the limits and conditioning which are part of our human nature. In beatifying one of her sons, the Church does not celebrate the specific historical decisions he may have made, but rather points to him as someone to be imitated and venerated because of his virtues, in praise of the divine grace which shines resplendently in him.

I extend my respectful greetings to the official delegations of Italy, France, Ireland, Belgium, Turkey and Bulgaria which have come here for this solemn occasion. I also greet the relatives of the new blesseds, together with the Cardinals, Bishops, civil and religious dignitaries who have wished to take part in our celebration. Lastly, I greet you all, dear brothers and sisters who have come in large numbers to pay homage to the servants of God whom the Church today is enrolling among the blessed.

2. Listening to the words of the Gospel acclamation: "Lord, lead me on a straight road", our thoughts naturally turn to the human and religious life of Pope Pius IX, Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti. Amid the turbulent events of his time, he was an example of unconditional fidelity to the immutable deposit of revealed truths. Faithful to the duties of his ministry in every circumstance, he always knew how to give absolute primacy to God and to spiritual values. His lengthy pontificate was not at all easy and he had much to suffer in fulfilling his mission of service to the Gospel. He was much loved, but also hated and slandered.

However, it was precisely in these conflicts that the light of his virtues shone most brightly: these prolonged sufferings tempered his trust in divine Providence, whose sovereign lordship over human events he never doubted. This was the source of Pius IX's deep serenity, even amid the misunderstandings and attacks of so many hostile people. He liked to say to those close to him: "In human affairs we must be content to do the best we can and then abandon ourselves to Providence, which will heal our human faults and shortcomings".

Sustained by this deep conviction, he called the First Vatican Ecumenical Council, which clarified with magisterial authority certain questions disputed at the time, and confirmed the harmony of faith and reason. During his moments of trial Pius IX found support in Mary, to whom he was very devoted. In proclaiming the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, he reminded everyone that in the storms of human life the light of Christ shines brightly in the Blessed Virgin and is more powerful than sin and death.

3. "You are good and forgiving" (Entrance Antiphon). Today we contemplate in the glory of the Lord another Pontiff, John XXIII, the Pope who impressed the world with the friendliness of his manner which radiated the remarkable goodness of his soul. By divine design their beatification links these two Popes who lived in very different historical contexts but, beyond appearances, share many human and spiritual similarities. Pope John's deep veneration for Pius IX, to whose beatification he looked forward, is well known. During a spiritual retreat in 1959, he wrote in his diary: "I always think of Pius IX of holy and glorious memory, and by imitating him in his sacrifices, I would like to be worthy to celebrate his canonization" (Journal of a Soul, Ed. San Paolo, 2000, p. 560).

1175 Everyone remembers the image of Pope John's smiling face and two outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart, combined with a broad experience of people and things! The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world. It was in this spirit that he called the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, thereby turning a new page in the Church's history: Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the "signs" of the times. The Council was a truly prophetic insight of this elderly Pontiff who, even amid many difficulties, opened a season of hope for Christians and for humanity.

In the last moments of his earthly life, he entrusted his testament to the Church: "What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness". We too wish to receive this testament, as we glorify God for having given him to us as a Pastor.

4. "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only" (
Jc 1,22). These words of the Apostle James make us think of the life and apostolate of Tommaso Reggio, a priest and journalist who later became Bishop of Ventimiglia and finally Archbishop of Genoa. He was a man of faith and culture, and as a Pastor he knew how to be an attentive guide to the faithful in every circumstance. Sensitive to the many sufferings and the poverty of his people, he took responsibility for providing prompt help in all situations of need. Precisely with this in mind, he founded the religious family of the Sisters of St Martha, entrusting to them the task of assisting the Pastors of the Church especially in the areas of charity and education.

His message can be summed up in two words: truth and charity. Truth, first of all, which means attentive listening to God's word and courageous zeal in defending and spreading the teachings of the Gospel. Then charity, which spurs people to love God and, for love of him, to embrace everyone since they are brothers and sisters in Christ. If there was a preference in Tommaso Reggio's choices, it was for those who found themselves in hardship and suffering. This is why he is presented today as a model for Bishops, priest and lay people, as well as for those who belong to his spiritual family.

5. The beatification during the Jubilee Year of William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Marianists, reminds the faithful that it is their task to find ever new ways of bearing witness to the faith, especially in order to reach those who are far from the Church and who do not have the usual means of knowing Christ. William Joseph Chaminade invites each Christian to be rooted in his Baptism, which conforms him to the Lord Jesus and communicates the Holy Spirit to him.

Fr Chaminade's love for Christ, in keeping with the French school of spirituality, spurred him to pursue his tireless work by founding spiritual families in a troubled period of France's religious history. His filial attachment to Mary maintained his inner peace on all occasions, helping him to do Christ's will. His concern for human, moral and religious education calls the entire Church to renew her attention to young people, who need both teachers and witnesses in order to turn to the Lord and take their part in the Church's mission.

6. Today the Benedictine Order rejoices at the beatification of one of its most distinguished sons, Dom Columba Marmion, a monk and Abbot of Maredsous. Dom Marmion left us an authentic treasure of spiritual teaching for the Church of our time. In his writings he teaches a simple yet demanding way of holiness for all the faithful, whom God has destined in love to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ (cf. Eph Ep 1,5). Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and the source of all grace, is the centre of our spiritual life, our model of holiness.

Before entering the Benedictine Order, Columba Marmion spent some years in the pastoral care of souls as a priest of his native Archdiocese of Dublin. Throughout his life Bl. Columba was an outstanding spiritual director, having particular care for the interior life of priests and religious. To a young man preparing for ordination he once wrote: "The best of all preparations for the priesthood is to live each day with love, wherever obedience and Providence place us" (Letter, 27 December 1915). May a widespread rediscovery of the spiritual writings of Bl. Columba Marmion help priests, religious and laity to grow in union with Christ and bear faithful witness to him through ardent love of God and generous service of their brothers and sisters.

7. Let us confidently ask the new blesseds, Pius IX, John XXIII, Tommaso Reggio, William Joseph Chaminade and Columba Marmion, to help us live in ever greater conformity to the Spirit of Christ. May their love of God and neighbour illumine our steps at this dawn of the third millennium!


Sunday 10 September 2000

1. "He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak" (Mc 7,37).

1176 In the Jubilee context of this celebration we are invited in the first place to share in the wonder and praise of those who witnessed the miracle which we have just heard recounted in the Gospel. Like many other episodes of healing, it testifies to the coming of the Kingdom of God in the person of Jesus. In Christ the messianic promises spoken by the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled: "The ears of the deaf shall be unstopped ... and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy" (Is 35,5-6). In him, the year of the Lord's favour has begun for all humanity (cf. Lk Lc 4,17-21).

This year of favour crosses the centuries, it has marked all of history, it is the principle of resurrection and life, which affects not only humanity but creation itself (cf Rm 8,19-22).

We are present here for a renewed experience of this year of favour, at this Jubilee of Universities, at which you - distinguished Rectors, Teachers, Administrators and Chaplains from various countries; and you, dear students from all over the world - are gathered.

I extend cordial greetings to all of you. I thank the concelebrating Cardinals and Bishops for their presence. I also greet the Minister for Universities and the other Authorities present.

2. "Ephphatha, be opened!" (Mc 7,34). The words spoken by Jesus at the healing of the deaf mute ring out once more for us today; they are stimulating words of great symbolic intensity which call us to open ourselves to listening and to bearing witness.

Does not the deaf mute mentioned in the Gospel bring to mind the situation of those who are unable to establish a communication which gives true meaning to life? In a certain way, he reminds us of those who shut themselves up in a presumed autonomy, which leaves them isolated from God and often from their neighbour as well. Jesus turns to this man to restore to him the capacity to open himself to the One who is Other and to others, in an attitude of trust and freely-given love. He offers him the extraordinary opportunity to meet God who is love and who allows himself to be known by those who love. He offers him salvation.

Yes, Christ opens man to a knowledge of both God and himself. He who is truth (cf Jn 14,6) opens man to the truth, touching him from within and thus healing "from within" every human faculty.

For you, dear Brothers and Sisters engaged in research and study, these words are an appeal to open your spirit, to the truth which sets free! At the same time, Christ's words summon you to become this "Ephphatha" for countless hosts of young people, to become this word which opens the spirit to every aspect of truth in the different fields of learning. Seen in this light, your daily commitment becomes a following of Christ on the path of service to your brothers and sisters in the truth of love.

Christ is the one who "has done all things well" (Mc 7,37). He is the model to whom you must look unceasingly so that your academic activity becomes an effective service of the human longing for an ever fuller knowledge of truth.

3. "Say to those who are of a fearful heart: `Be strong, fear not! Behold your God ... He will come and save you"' (Is 35,4).

In these words of Isaiah your mission too, dear University men and women, is well delineated. Every day you are committed to proclaiming, defending and spreading the truth. Often this involves truths concerning the most diverse aspects of the cosmos and of history. The subject material will not always touch directly on the problem of the ultimate meaning of life and the relationship with God, as in the areas of philosophy and theology. However, this problem abides as the larger context of every thought. Even in research on areas of life which seem quite far from faith there is a hidden desire for truth and meaning which goes beyond the particular and the contingent.

1177 When the human person is not spiritually "deaf and dumb" every area of thought, science and experience also brings a reflection of the Creator and gives rise to a desire for him, a desire often hidden and perhaps also repressed but which cannot be suppressed. This was well understood by Saint Augustine who exclaimed: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you" (Confessions, I, 1 ).

As scholars and teachers who have opened your hearts to Christ, your vocation is that of living and bearing witness in an effective way to this relationship between the individual branches of knowledge and that supreme "knowledge" which concerns God, and which in a sense coincides with him, with his Word made flesh and with the Spirit of truth given by him. Through your contribution, the University becomes the place of the "Ephphatha" where Christ - at work in you - continues to carry out the miracle of opening ears and lips, bringing about a new capacity for listening and a true communication.

Freedom of research has nothing to fear from this encounter with Christ. Nor does this encounter compromise dialogue and respect for individuals, since Christian truth by its nature is to be proposed, never imposed, and has as its solid point of reference a deep respect for the "sanctuary of conscience" (Redemptoris Missio
RMi 39 cf. Redemptor Hominis RH 12 Vatican II, Dignitatis Humanae DH 3).

4. Ours is a time of great transformations which also involve the university world. The humanistic character of culture sometimes seems relegated to the periphery, while there is an increased tendency to reduce the horizon of knowledge to what can be measured and to ignore any question touching on the ultimate meaning of reality. We can ask ourselves what kind of men and women are being prepared by the University today.

To meet the challenge of creating a new authentic and integral humanism, the University needs people attentive to the word of the only Teacher; it needs qualified professionals and credible witnesses to Christ. This mission is certainly not easy, it requires constant commitment, it is nourished by prayer and study, and it is expressed in the normal events of everyday life.

This mission is supported by the pastoral care of university students and personnel, which involves both the spiritual care of individuals and effective activity promoting cultural initiatives in which the light of the Gospel directs and humanizes the paths of research, study and teaching methods.

At the heart of such pastoral activity are university chaplaincy centres where teachers, students and staff find support and help for their Christian lives. As significant places in the University setting, they nourish the commitment of each individual according to the forms and ways suggested by the university context: they are places of the spirit, gymnasiums for the Christian virtues, open and inviting houses, dynamic centres which encourage the Christian animation of culture in respectful and honest dialogue, with clear and purposeful direction (cf. 1P 3,15), and with a witness which is both truth-seeking and convincing.

5. Dear friends, it is a great joy for me to celebrate the Jubilee of Universities with you. This large and distinguished gathering is an eloquent sign of the cultural fruitfulness of faith.

Fixing our gaze on the mystery of the Incarnate Word (cf. Bull Incarnationis Mysterium), man discovers himself (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 22). He also experiences an intimate joy which finds expression in the interior style itself of studying and teaching. Knowledge thus overcomes the limits which reduce it to a merely functional and pragmatic process, and so it recovers its dignity as research in the service of man in the whole truth about himself, illuminated and guided by the Gospel.

Dear Teachers and Students, this is your vocation: make the University an environment where knowledge is cultivated, a place where the individual finds direction for the future, knowledge, inspiration for effective service of society.

I entrust your journey to Mary, Sedes Sapientiae, whose image I entrust to you today, so that she may be welcomed as a teacher and a pilgrim in the university campuses of the world. Mary supported the Apostles with her prayer at the dawn of evangelization; may she also help you to invigorate the university world with a Christian spirit.


Sunday 17 September 2000

1. "Who do you say that I am?" (
Mc 8,29). This is the question Christ puts to his disciples after asking them about the common opinion of the people. He thus deepens the dialogue with the disciples, as if obliging them to make a more direct and personal response. Peter replies promptly and with clear faith on behalf of all: "You are the Christ" (Mc 8,29)!

Jesus' dialogue with the Apostles, which rings out in this square today on the occasion of the Jubilee of the Elderly, impels us to think deeply about the meaning of the event we are celebrating. In the Jubilee Year, which recalls the 2,000th anniversary of Christ's birth, the whole Church raises to the Lord in a very special way "a great prayer of praise and thanksgiving, especially for the gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of the Redemption which he accomplished" (cf. Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 32).

"Who do you say that I am?". With regard to this question which continues to challenge us, we are here to make Peter's answer our own, recognizing in Christ the Word made flesh, the Lord of our life.

2. Dear brothers and sisters who have come on pilgrimage to Rome for your Jubilee! I offer you my most cordial welcome, and I am pleased to celebrate this special moment of grace and ecclesial communion with you.

I greet you all with affection. I extend a particular greeting to Cardinal James Francis Stafford and to all my confrères in the Episcopate and in the priesthood who are here. I send a special thought to all the elderly Bishops and priests throughout the world, as well as to those who, in the religious or secular life, have spent their energies fulfilling the duties incumbent on their state. Thank you for your example of love, dedication and fidelity to the vocation you received!

I would like to express my appreciation to those who have faced difficulties and hardships in order not to miss this event. However, at the same time, my thoughts also turn to all those elderly persons, alone or ill, who have not been able to leave their homes, but have joined us in spirit and are following this celebration on radio or television. I assure everyone who is in a precarious or particularly difficult situation of my warm closeness and remembrance in prayer.

3. The Jubilee of the Elderly that we are celebrating today has special importance in view of the increasing numbers of elderly people in contemporary society. Celebrating the Jubilee means first of all accepting Christ's message for these people, but at the same time treasuring the message of experience and wisdom which they bring in this particular season of their life. For many of them old-age is the time to reorganize their lives, making the most of the experience and abilities acquired.

In fact, as I had the opportunity to stress in the Letter to the Elderly (cf. n. 13) - old age is even a time of grace which is an invitation to be united with a deeper love to Christ's saving mystery and to participate more profoundly in his plan of salvation. The Church looks with love and trust upon you elderly people, dedicating herself to encouraging the fulfilment of a human, social and spiritual context in which every person can live this important stage of his life fully and with dignity.

In these very days, the Pontifical Council for the Laity has made a contribution to this aspect of pastoral care by promoting reflection on the theme: "The gift of a long life: responsibility and hope". I deeply appreciated this initiative and hope that this symposium will encourage in the families, religious and lay staff of homes which take in the elderly and in all who work in services for them the desire to contribute actively to the renewal of a specific social and pastoral commitment.

In fact, much can still be done to increase awareness of the elderly's needs, to help them express their abilities as well as possible, to facilitate their active integration in the life of the Church and, especially, to ensure that their personal dignity is respected and valued always and everywhere.

1179 4. This Sunday's readings, which invite us to examine the way in which God's saving plan is fulfilled, shed light on all of this. From the book of the prophet Isaiah we have heard the description of the suffering Servant, which is a portrait of a person who makes himself totally available to God. "The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward" (Is 50,5). The Servant of Yahweh accepts the mission entrusted to him, even if it is arduous and full of pitfalls: his trust in God gives him the necessary strength and resources to achieve it, remaining firm even in adversity.

The mystery of suffering and redemption announced by the figure of the Servant of Yahweh is fulfilled in Christ. As we heard in today's Gospel, Jesus began to teach the Apostles "that the Son of man must suffer many things" (Mc 8,31). At first sight, this prospect seems humanly difficult to accept, as the immediate reaction of Peter and the Apostles shows (cf. Mk Mc 8,32-35). And how could it be otherwise? Suffering can only create fear! But precisely in the redemptive suffering of Christ lies the true answer to the challenge of pain, which weighs so much on our human condition. Indeed, Christ took upon himself our sufferings, he assumed our pain, casting a new light of hope and life upon them through his Cross and his Resurrection.

5. Dear brothers and sisters, elderly friends! In a world like this which often makes a myth of strength and power, it is your mission to witness to the values which truly count, going beyond appearances, and which endure forever because they are engraved on the heart of every human being and guaranteed by the Word of God.

Precisely as so-called "senior citizens", you have a specific contribution to make to the development of a genuine "culture of life" - you have, we have, because I also belong to your age group - witnessing that every moment of our existence is a gift of God, and that every season of human life has special treasures to put at the disposal of all.

You yourselves can experience how time spent without the disturbance of so many occupations can encourage a deeper reflection and a fuller dialogue with God in prayer. Your maturity also spurs you to share with those who are younger the wisdom accumulated with experience, sustaining them in their effort of growth and dedicating time and attention to them at the moment when they are opening themselves to the future and seeking their own way in life. You can accomplish a truly precious task for them.

Dear brothers and sisters! The Church looks to you with great esteem and trust. The Church needs you! But civil society also needs you! This is what I said a month ago to the young people, and what I say today to you, to us, elderly people! The Church needs us! But civil society also needs us! May you be able to use generously the time you have at your disposal and the talents God has granted to you in being open to assisting and supporting others. Help proclaim the Gospel as catechists, leaders of the liturgy, witnesses of Christian life. Devote time and energy to prayer, to reading the word of God and to reflection upon it.

6. "I by my works will show you my faith" (Jc 2,18). With these words, the Apostle James invited us not to be afraid of openly and courageously expressing our faith in Christ in our daily lives, especially in works of charity and solidarity with those who are in need (cf. vv. 15-16).
Today I thank the Lord not only for all the brothers and sisters who witness to this active faith in daily service to the elderly, but also for all elderly people who, to the best of their ability, still continue to do their utmost for others.

In this festive celebration of the Jubilee of the Elderly you would like to renew your profession of faith in Christ, the one Saviour of man, and your adherence to the Church, in the commitment to a life lived under the banner of love.

Today we would like to give thanks together for the gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of the Redemption he accomplished. Let us continue the pilgrimage of our daily lives in the certainty that human history in general and the events of each person's life are part of a divine plan on which the mystery of Christ's Resurrection sheds light.

We ask Mary, the Virgin pilgrim in the faith and our heavenly Mother, to accompany us on the path of life and to help us say, like her, our "yes" to God's will, singing our Magnificat with her in everlasting, heartfelt trust and joy.



Sunday 24 September 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. "He took a child, and put him in the midst of them" (Mc 9,36). Jesus' unusual act, recorded in the Gospel just proclaimed, comes immediately after the warning with which the Teacher urged his disciples not to desire the primacy of power, but of service. This teaching must have cut the Twelve to the quick, for "they had discussed with one another who was the greatest" (Mc 9,34). It could be said that the Teacher felt the need to illustrate such a demanding teaching with the eloquence of an act rich in tenderness. He embraced a child, who - according to the standards of the time - counted for nothing, and, as it were, identified himself with him: "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me" (Mc 9,37).

In this Eucharist which closes the 20th International Mariological-Marian Congress and the World Jubilee of Marian Shrines, I would like to consider as a topic for reflection precisely this extraordinary Gospel image. From it, even before a moral teaching, stems a Christological, and indirectly, a Marian instruction.

In embracing the child, Christ first of all discloses the delicacy of his heart capable of the full vibrance of sensitivity and affection. In it there is primarily the tenderness of the Father, who from eternity, in the Holy Spirit, loves him and sees in his human face the "beloved Son" with whom he is well pleased (cf. Mk Mc 1,11 Mc 9,7). Then there is the wholly feminine and motherly tenderness with which Mary surrounded him during the long years he spent in the house of Nazareth. Christian tradition, especially in the Middle Ages, often paused to contemplate the Virgin embracing the Child Jesus. Aelred of Rievaulx, for example, addresses Mary affectionately, inviting her to embrace the Son whom, after three days, she found in the temple (cf. Lk Lc 2,40-50). "O sweetest Lady, clasp the One you love, throw your arms round his neck, embrace and kiss him, and compensate with many delights for the three days of his absence" (De Iesus puero duodenni 8: SCh 60, p. 64).

2. "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all" (Mc 9,35). The image of Jesus embracing the child conveys the full vigour of this principle, which finds its exemplary fulfilment in the person of Jesus and then, also, in Mary.

No one can say, like Jesus, that he is the "first". Indeed, it is Jesus who is the the "First and the Last", the "Alpha and the Omega", (cf. Rv Ap 22,13), the reflection of the Father's glory, (cf. Heb He 1,3). In the Resurrection, he was given "the name which is above every name" (Ph 2,9). However, in the Passion, he also showed himself "the last of all" and, as the "servant of all", did not hesitate to wash his disciples' feet (cf. Jn Jn 13,14).

How closely Mary follows him in this lowering of himself! She, who had the mission of the divine motherhood and the exceptional privileges which place her above every other creature, feels first and foremost the handmaid of the Lord (Lc 1,38 Lc 48), and is totally dedicated to serving the divine Son. With ready availability she also makes herself the "servant" of the brethren, as some Gospel episodes - from the Visitation to the Wedding at Cana - clearly show us.

3. This is why the principle enunciated by Jesus in the Gospel also illumines Mary's greatness. Her "primacy" is rooted in her "humility". Precisely in this humility God reached out to her, filling her with his favours and making her the "kecharitomene", the "full of grace" (Lc 1,28). She herself confesses in the Magnificat: "He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden ... he who is mighty has done great things for me" (Lc 1,48-49).

In the Mariological Congress which has just closed, you fixed your gaze on the "great things" wrought in Mary, reflecting on their inmost, deepest dimenison, that of her very special relationship with the Trinity. If Mary is the Theotokos, the Mother of the Only-begotten Son of God, how can we be surprised that she enjoys a quite unique relationship also with the Father and the Holy Spirit?

1181 This relationship certainly does not spare her, in her earthly life, the efforts of the human condition: Mary lived to the full the daily reality of so many humble families of her time, she knew poverty, sorrow, flight, exile, misunderstanding. Thus her spiritual grandeur does not make her "distant"; she advanced on our road and was in solidarity with us in the "pilgrimage of faith" (Lumen gentium LG 58). But on this interior journey, Mary cultivated absolute faith in God's plan. Precisely in the abyss of this fidelity is also rooted the abyss of greatness that makes her "humble and exalted more than any creature" (Dante, Par XXXIII, 2).

4. In our eyes, Mary stands first of all as the "beloved daughter" (Lumen gentium LG 53) of the Father. If we have all been called by God "to be his sons through Jesus Christ" (cf. Eph Ep 1,5), "sons in the Son", this is especially true for her, who has the privilege of being able to repeat with full human truth the words spoken about Jesus by God the Father: "You are my beloved Son" (cf. Lk Lc 3,22 Lc 2,48). Because of her task as mother, she was endowed with an exceptional holiness on which the Father rests his eyes.

Mary has a unique relationship with the second person of the Trinity, the Word made flesh, since she is directly involved in the mystery of the Incarnation. She is his Mother, and as such Christ honours and loves her. At the same time, she recognizes him as her God and Lord, making herself a disciple with an attentive and faithful heart (cf. Lk Lc 2,19), and his generous associate (Lumen gentium LG 61) in the work of Redemption. In the incarnate Word and in Mary the infinite distance between the Creator and creature became a supreme closeness; they are the holy space for the mysterious nuptials of the divine nature with the human, the place where the Trinity is revealed for the first time and where Mary represents the new humanity, ready to take up again, in obedient love, the dialogue of the Covenant.

5. Then what can be said of her relationship with the Holy Spirit? Mary is the purest "sacrarium" in which he dwells. The Christian tradition recognizes in Mary the prototype of the docile answer to the inner movement of the Spirit, the model of the full acceptance of his gifts. The Spirit supports her faith, strengthens her hope, rekindles the flame of her love. The Spirit makes her virginity fruitful and inspires her canticle of joy. The Spirit enlightens her meditation on the Word, gradually opening her mind to an understanding of the Son's mission. It is once again the Spirit who supports her anguish on Calvary and prepares her, in the prayerful expectation of the Upper Room, to receive the full outpouring of the gifts of Pentecost.

6. Dear brothers and sisters! Before this mystery of grace one clearly sees how appropriate for the Jubilee Year are the two events which this Eucharistic celebration brings to a close: the International Mariological-Marian Congress and the World Jubilee of Marian Shrines. Are we not celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of Christ's birth? It is therefore natural that the Jubilee of the Son should also be the Jubilee of the Mother!

It is therefore to be hoped that among the fruits of this year of grace, as well as that of a stronger love for Christ, there should also be that of a renewed Marian devotion. Yes, Mary must be deeply loved and honoured, but with a devotion which, to be authentic:

- must be firmly grounded in Scripture and Tradition, making the most of the liturgy first of all and drawing from it a sound orientation for the most spontaneous demonstrations of popular piety;
- must be expressed in an effort to imitate the All Holy in a way of personal perfection;
- must be far from every form of superstition and vain credulousness, accepting in the right way, in accordance with ecclesial discernment, the extraordinary manifestions in which the Blessed Virgin often likes to grant herself for the good of the People of God;
- must always be able to go back to the source of Mary's greatness, becoming a ceaseless Magnificat of praise to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

7. Dear Brothers and Sisters! "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me", Jesus said to us in the Gospel. He could say to us even more aptly: "whoever receives my Mother, receives me". And Mary, on her part, received with filial love, once again points out the Son to us as she did at the wedding of Cana: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5).

1182 Dear friends, may this be the consignment of today's Jubilee celebration, which combines Christ and his most holy Mother in one praise. I hope that each of you will receive abundant spiritual fruits from it, and be encouraged to authentic renewal of life. Ad Iesum per Mariam! Amen.

S. John Paul II Homil. 1174