S. John Paul II Homil. 1189


Sunday 8 October 2000

1. "Woman, behold your Son!" (Jn 19,26).

As we near the end of this Jubilee Year,
when you, O Mother, have offered us Jesus anew,
1190 the blessed fruit of your womb most pure,
the Word made flesh, the world’s Redeemer,
we hear more clearly the sweet echo of his words
entrusting us to you, making you our Mother:
"Woman, behold your Son!"
When he entrusted to you the Apostle John,
and with him the children of the Church and all people,
Christ did not diminish but affirmed anew
the role which is his alone as the Saviour of the world.
You are the splendour which in no way dims the light of Christ,
for you exist in him and through him.
1191 Everything in you is fiat: you are the Immaculate One,
through you there shines the fullness of grace.
Here, then, are your children, gathered before you
at the dawn of the new millennium.
The Church today, through the voice of the Successor of Peter,
in union with so many Pastors assembled here
from every corner of the world,
seeks refuge in your motherly protection
and trustingly begs your intercession
as she faces the challenges which lie hidden in the future.

2. In this year of grace, countless people have known
1192 the overflowing joy of the mercy
which the Father has given us in Christ.
In the particular Churches throughout the world,
and still more in this centre of Christianity,
the widest array of people have accepted this gift.
Here the enthusiasm of the young rang out,
here the sick have lifted up their prayer.
Here have gathered priests and religious,
artists and journalists,
workers and people of learning,
children and adults,
1193 and all have acknowledged in your beloved Son
the Word of God made flesh in your womb.
O Mother, intercede for us,
that the fruits of this Year will not be lost
and that the seeds of grace will grow
to the full measure of the holiness
to which we are all called.

3. Today we wish to entrust to you the future that awaits us,
and we ask you to be with us on our way.
We are the men and women of an extraordinary time,
exhilarating yet full of contradictions.
1194 Humanity now has instruments of unprecedented power:
we can turn this world into a garden,
or reduce it to a pile of rubble.
We have devised the astounding capacity
to intervene in the very well-springs of life:
man can use this power for good, within the bounds of the moral law,
or he can succumb to the short-sighted pride
of a science which accepts no limits,
but tramples on the respect due to every human being.
Today as never before in the past,
humanity stands at a crossroads.
1195 And once again, O Virgin Most Holy,
salvation lies fully and uniquely in Jesus, your Son.

4. Therefore, O Mother, like the Apostle John,
we wish to take you into our home (cf. Jn
Jn 19,27),
that we may learn from you to become like your Son.
"Woman, behold your son!"
Here we stand before you
to entrust to your maternal care
ourselves, the Church, the entire world.
Plead for us with your beloved Son
that he may give us in abundance the Holy Spirit,
1196 the Spirit of truth which is the fountain of life.
Receive the Spirit for us and with us,
as happened in the first community gathered round you
in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts
Ac 1,14).
May the Spirit open our hearts to justice and love,
and guide people and nations to mutual understanding
and a firm desire for peace.
We entrust to you all people, beginning with the weakest:
the babies yet unborn,
and those born into poverty and suffering,
the young in search of meaning,
the unemployed,
1197 and those suffering hunger and disease.
We entrust to you all troubled families,
the elderly with no one to help them,
and all who are alone and without hope.

5. O Mother, you know the sufferings
and hopes of the Church and the world:
come to the aid of your children in the daily trials
which life brings to each one,
and grant that, thanks to the efforts of all,
the darkness will not prevail over the light.
To you, Dawn of Salvation, we commit
1198 our journey through the new Millennium,
so that with you as guide
all people may know Christ,
the light of the world and its only Saviour,
who reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit
for ever and ever. Amen.


Friday 13 October 2000

1. "Jesus went up on the mountain.... And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: "Blessed ...' " (Mt 5,1-2).

Just as he did one day on that mountain in Galilee, today too the Lord Jesus continues to teach his disciples with the fundamental sermon on the "Beatitudes". Beloved and venerable Cardinal Pietro Palazzini, whom we are accompanying at this moment on his way from this world to the Father's house, certainly reflected often on this Gospel text. Indeed, the Beatitudes are the paradigm of Christian holiness and, especially in the last years of his service as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, he was able to marvel at the wonders of holiness in so many servants of God, blesseds and saints. He is now called to contemplate the glorious face of the Thrice-Holy God in the fullness of light.

With their powerful eschatalogical force, Christ's words sustain our hope in the kingdom of heaven, promised to those who strive to follow the Teacher's way and to conform themselves to him. The bonds of affection and priestly brotherhood which join us to the late Cardinal Palazzini, to whom we are offering our last farewell, spur us to pray that he will be perfectly conformed to Christ. We pray that he will be able fully to enjoy the happiness of the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those persecuted for righteousness' sake.

2. "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Ps 41,2), we sang in the Responsorial Psalm. Man is the creature who longs for God; he is made for God. That "immortal spirit", which - as the first reading recalls - "is in all things" (Sg 12,1), nourishes man's desire to know the Creator and to live in communion with him.

1199 This spiritual dynamism is revealed in a very special way in the believer's life: he trustfully waits and prepares for the encounter with his Lord. In the second reading, the Apostle Paul says he is convinced that Christ will be honoured in his body, whether by life or by death (cf. Phil Ph 1,20). This is precisely why he says with deep emotion: "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Ph 1,21).

However, we know that this deep conviction did not deter the Apostle from his uninterrupted ministry; on the contrary, although he longed to be united with Christ for ever, he said that he was ready to continue his service to his faithful for the progress and joy of their faith (cf. Phil Ph 1,23-25).

3. It is in this perspective that we recall the late Cardinal Pietro Palazzini. He devoted his life to the diligent service of God and the Church, especially through study, teaching and the defence of truth. Indeed, he spent his best energies, dedicating himself to the study of moral theology and canon law.

After taking theology courses at the Pontifical Lateran University and being ordained a priest, he earned a doctorate in theology and in utroque iure. He was vice-rector of the Roman Major Seminary; later appointed professor of moral theology on the Theological Faculty of the Lateran University, he continued to study the ethical, moral and juridical implications of modern human and social problems.

In 1962 Pope John XXIII appointed him Archbishop and called him to be a member of the Preparatory Commission of the Second Vatican Council. During the Ecumenical Council, he was a member of the Commission for the Discipline of the Clergy and the Christian People. He continued his zealous service at the Congregation "of the Council", which over the years became the "Congregation for the Clergy"; he was later called to direct the Congregation for the Causes of Saints as Prefect.

He published many valued works of moral theology and law, collaborated on others and made an important contribution of doctrine and pastoral wisdom to them all.

4. His last post in the Church's service as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints seems especially significant today. After knowing and studying so many lives of saints and blesseds, our venerable Brother is now called to enter their dwelling-place, through the door by which the just enter (cf. Ps Ps 117,20), that door which is Christ the Lord, the Holy One of God.

"Aperite mihi portas iustitiae, et ingressus in eas confitebor Domino" (Ps 117,20). How many times did our Brother repeat this verse as he prayed the Divine Office! Now, having ended his earthly pilgrimage, he is preparing to enter the house of the Lord: "In domo Domini", as his episcopal motto says. There he will take part in the liturgy of heaven.

In domo Domini! May the saints, whose causes he prepared, lead him into this dwelling-place of peace and joy; may the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose devoted son he always declared himself to be, welcome him.

May we who remain pilgrims on this earth be consoled by the sweet bond of the communion of saints and the sure hope that one day we will be able to take part for ever in the solemn, eternal liturgy of divine love. So be it!


Sunday 15 October 2000

1200 1. "May the Lord, the source of life, bless us". The invocation we repeated in the Responsorial Psalm, dear brothers and sisters, sums up well the daily prayer of every Christian family, and today, during this Eucharistic celebration of the Jubilee, it vividly expresses the meaning of our gathering.

You have come here not only as individuals but as families. You have come to Rome from every part of the world, bringing with you the deep conviction that the family is a great gift of God, an original gift, marked by his blessing.

So it is indeed. From the dawn of creation, God has looked upon the family and blessed it. God created man and woman in his image and gave them a specific task for the growth of the human family: "God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth' " (
Gn 1,28).

Your Jubilee, dear families, is a song of praise for this original blessing. It came upon you, Christian spouses, when, in celebrating your wedding, you pledged everlasting love to each other in God's sight. It will be received today by the eight couples from various parts of the world who have come to celebrate their wedding in the solemn setting of this Jubilee rite.

Yes, may the Lord, the source of life, bless you! Open yourselves to the ever new flow of this blessing. It brings with it a creative and regenerative power that can banish all weariness and assure lasting freshness to your gift.

2. This original blessing is linked to a precise plan of God, which his word has just recalled: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him" (Gn 2,18). So it is that in the Book of Genesis the sacred author describes the fundamental requirement on which the marital union of man and woman and, with it, the life of the family that flows from it, is based. It is a requirement of communion. Human beings were not made for solitude; they bear within themselves a relational vocation, rooted in their spiritual nature. Because of this vocation, they grow to the extent that they enter into relationships with others, fully discovering themselves only in "a sincere giving of self" (Gaudium et spes GS 24).

Purely functional relationships are not enough for human beings. They need interpersonal relationships that are rich in inner depth, gratuitousness and self-sacrifice. Fundamental among these are the relationships created in the family: between husband and wife, and between them and their children. The whole great network of human relationships flows from and is continuously reborn from that relationship by which a man and a woman recognize that they are made for one another and decide to join their individual lives in a single project of life: "Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gn 2,24).

3. One flesh! How can we not see the power of this expression? The biblical term "flesh" calls to mind not only man's bodily nature, but his overall identity as body and spirit. What the spouses achieve is not only a joining of bodies, but a true union of their persons. A union which is so deep that it in some way makes them a reflection of the "We" of the three divine Persons in history (cf. Letter to Families LF 8).

Thus we can understand how much is at stake in Jesus' discussion with the Pharisees in Mark's Gospel, proclaimed a few moments ago. Those who were speaking with Jesus considered this a problem of interpretation of the Mosaic law, which permitted a man to put his wife away, leading to debates on the reasons that could justify it. Jesus rises totally above this legalistic view, going to the heart of God's plan. In the law of Moses he sees a concession to their "skelerokardia", their "hardness of heart". But it is to this hardness that Jesus is not resigned. And how could he be, having come precisely to dispel it and to offer to man, with Redemption, the strength to overcome the resistance due to sin? He is not afraid to remind them of the original plan: "From the beginning of creation, "God made them male and female' " (Mc 10,6).

4. From the beginning! Only he, Jesus, knows the Father "from the beginning" and also knows man "from the beginning". He both reveals the Father and reveals man to himself (cf. Gaudium et spes GS 22). For this reason, following in his footsteps, the Church has the task of bearing witness in history to this original plan and of showing its truth and feasibility.

In doing so she does not hide the difficulties and tragedies which concrete historical experience records in the life of families. But she also knows that God's will, wholeheartedly accepted and fulfilled, is not a chain that enslaves, but the condition for a true freedom which achieves its fullness in love. The Church also knows - and our daily experience confirms it - that when this original plan is obscured in consciences, incalculable harm is done to society.

1201 Certainly, there are difficulties. But Jesus provided married couples with sufficient means of grace to overcome them. By his will marriage has acquired, in the baptized, the value and power of a sacramental sign, which strengthens its characteristics and prerogatives. For in sacramental marriage the spouses - as the young couples whose marriages I will bless will shortly be doing - commit themselves to expressing to each other and to bearing witness before the world to the powerful and indissoluble love with which Christ loves the Church. It is a "great mystery", as the Apostle Paul calls it (cf. Eph Ep 5,32).

5. "May the Lord, the source of life, bless you!". God's blessing is at the origin not only of marital communion, but also of a responsible and generous openness to life. Children really are the "springtime of the family and society", as the motto of your Jubilee says. It is in children that marriage blossoms: they crown that total partnership of life ("totius vitae consortium": CIC 1055,1), which makes husband and wife "one flesh"; this is true both of the children born from the natural relationship of the spouses and those desired through adoption. Children are not an "accessory" to the project of married life. They are not an "option", but a "supreme gift" (Gaudium et spes GS 50), inscribed in the very structure of the conjugal union. The Church, as you know, teaches an ethic of respect for this fundamental structure in both its unitive and procreative meaning. In all this, it expresses the proper regard for God's plan, sketching an image of conjugal relations that are marked by mutual and unreserved acceptance. Above all, it addresses the right of children to be born and to grow in a context of fully human love. In conforming to the word of God, families thus become a school of humanization and true solidarity.

6. Parents and children are called to this task, but, as I already wrote in 1994 for the Year of the Family, "the "we' of the parents, of husband and wife, develops into the "we' of the family, which is grafted on to earlier generations and is open to gradual expansion" (Letter to Families LF 16). When roles are respected, so that the relationship between husband and wife and between parents and children develops fully and peacefully, it is natural for other relatives such as grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, also to become significant and important. In these relationships marked by sincere affection and mutual help, the family often plays a truly irreplaceable role, so that persons in difficulty, unmarried people, widows, widowers and orphans can find a place that is warm and welcoming. The family cannot be closed in on itself. The affectionate relationship with relatives is an initial sphere of that necessary openness which orients families to all of society.

7. So dear Christian families, welcome the Jubilee grace which is being poured out abundantly in this Eucharist. Welcome it by taking the family of Nazareth as your example: although called to an incomparable mission, it traveled the same path as you do, amid joys and sufferings, prayer and work, hopes and distressing trials, while always rooted in fidelity to God's will. May your families continue to grow as true "domestic churches", offering praise to God every day and spreading a beneficial and regenerating flow of love throughout society.

"May the Lord, the source of life, bless us". May this Jubilee of Families be a great moment of grace for all of you who are celebrating it. May it also be an invitation for society to reflect on the meaning and value of this great gift which is the family, built according to God's heart.

May Mary, "Queen of the Family", always accompany you with her motherly hand.


Friday 20 October 2000

1. "... for the praise of his glory" (Ep 1,11).

St Paul's words, which we heard a few moments ago, offer us the perspective and meaning of this celebration that opens the academic year of the Roman ecclesiastical universities. From the beginning, we have wanted to offer everything to God and to direct it to his glory: our teaching, our studies, our community life, our work and leisure time; and even more, our personal life, prayer, asceticism and friendship. This evening we would like to place our whole being and all our work on the altar of the Lord, in order to offer it as a spiritual sacrifice "for the praise of his glory".

I extend my cordial greeting to you all, dear brothers and sisters, who have gathered here for this traditional celebration, starting with Archbishop Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, who is presiding at this Eucharist. With him I greet the university rectors, the members of the academic staff, and the superiors of the seminaries and colleges where you, students, find hospitality and help during your time of formation.

I extend a special welcome to the first-year students who are beginning their studies this year at Rome's pontifical universities and institutes. I would like everyone to know that the opportunity to complete one's studies in Rome is a gift and, at the same time, to realize the responsibility connected with this privilege: for you are called to deepen your formation for the sake of well-trained service to the Church. This is why Christian Rome welcomes you with its cultural institutions, well aware of its universal vocation founded on the witness of the Apostles and martyrs.

1202 2. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, / the people whom he has chosen as his heritage" (Ps 32 [33]: 12). How can we not see the Church as this special "nation" whose God is the Lord? She is the people "made one by the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit", according to St Cyprian's well-known expression (De Orat. Dom., 23: PL 4, 553).

Dear friends, you come from different nations of the world. In this basilica, your faces form a wonderful "mosaic" in which differences are called to blend with one another to make a structure that receives its form from the one Spirit of Christ. "In him you also", St Paul says, "who have heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit" (Ep 1,13).

At the beginning of a new academic year, it is important for each of you to return to your roots and, through them, to Christ, in whom these differences are harmonized, leading us to be one. It is a beautiful thing to recognize and profess our being Church, "the nation whose God is the Lord", the people he chose from among all the peoples, so that it might be in the world a "sacrament" as it were of the unity of the human race. Never lose this profound sense of the mystery of the Church to which you belong! It is the Church, in fact, which is the vital context of authentic Christian formation; in communion with her, you intend to pursue your commitment to study.

3. "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Lc 12,1). In the Gospel passage proclaimed a few moments ago, Jesus puts his disciples on guard against hypocritical attitudes, thus deceiving themselves that they can hide evil things behind apparent honesty. The Lord reminds us that everything is destined to come to light, even what is hidden and secret. In addition, he urges his followers, whom he calls "friends", not to fear anything or anyone, but only God, in whose hands is our life. If the invitation to fear "him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell" (Lc 12,4) causes a salutary shiver, it is immediately followed by the comforting description of God who cares for every creature, especially human beings, who are most precious in his eyes.

The theme of the absolute transparency of everything and of everyone before God unites the two parts of today's Gospel passage. It is an essential element of that filial relationship with God which Christ preached, thus fulfilling the revelation of the Old Covenant.

As it was for Jesus, this is really your priority task as well, dear teachers and students of the ecclesiastical universities: to know and to make known the true image of God. "That they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (Jn 17,3): for human beings, eternal life consists in this, and for this reason the Son of God came into the world, so that they "may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10,10).

At the beginning of a new year of theological or other ecclesiastical studies, this passage from Luke's Gospel helps us to make explicit the fundamental reference to Christ's mission and the meaning of his Incarnation: here the mission that each of you has, in the diversity of your charisms and ministries, receives light and strength.

4. Dear brothers and sisters! Today I would like to repeat the words of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in the Declaration Gravissimum educationis: "The Church anticipates great benefits from the activities of the faculties of the sacred sciences" (n. 11). In truth, she counts very much on the work that is daily accomplished in each of the pontifical universities. As Bishop of Rome, I would particularly like to express my appreciation and gratitude for the work of the superiors, teachers and those responsible for Rome's ecclesiastical institutions. Your enterprise, dear friends, together with the high level of scholarship and sure fidelity to the Magisterium, shows your love for Christ and his Church and, I would say, the authentic missionary spirit in which you serve the Truth.

On the eve of World Mission Sunday, I would like to stress that the work of those who teach and study at the ecclesiastical faculties is not separate from, much less in opposition to, the work of those "in the front lines" as it were. We are all at the service of Truth, which is the Gospel of Christ our Lord. The Gospel, by its nature, seeks to be proclaimed, but the proclamation presupposes a solid and deep knowledge of the message, so that evangelization will be an effective service to God, to Truth and to man.

Dear friends, may the Mother of the Redeemer, Seat of Wisdom, watch over you and the demands of this academic year which is just beginning. Mary is an image and model of the Church in accepting the divine Word, lovingly cherishing it, putting it into practice and bringing it to the world. May her motherly assistance be for each of you a source of renewed motivation and constant support in your work, so that all your activities may always find their origin and fulfilment in God "for the praise of his glory".



Sunday 22 October 2000

1. "The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (
Mc 10,45).

These words of the Lord, dear brothers and sisters, resound today, World Mission Sunday, as good news for all humanity and as a programme of life for the Church and for every Christian.

Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, recalled this at the beginning of our celebration, as he informed us of the presence this morning in this square of delegates from 127 nations, who have taken part in the World Mission Congress, and of the scholars of various denominations who have come for the International Missiological Congress. I thank Cardinal Tomko for his opening address to me and for all the work that he, along with the members of the Congregation over which he presides, carries out to serve the proclamation of the Gospel in the world.

"The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many". These words tell us how the divine Master presents himself. Jesus describes himself as the one who came to serve and that it is precisely service and total self-giving even to the cross that reveals the Father's love. His face as a "servant" in no way lessens his divine greatness, but sheds new light on it.

Jesus is the "great high priest" (He 4,14), the Word who "was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (Jn 1,2-3). Jesus is the Lord who, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" (Ph 2,6-7); Jesus is the Saviour, whom "we can confidently approach". Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14,6), the shepherd who gave his life for the sheep (Jn 10,11), the head who leads to life (Ac 3,15).

2. Missionary commitment arises like the fire of love from the contemplation of Jesus and the attraction that he holds. Christians who have contemplated Jesus Christ can only feel enraptured by his splendour (cf. Vita consecrata VC 14) and bear witness to their faith in Christ, the one Saviour of mankind. What a great grace is this faith which we have received as a gift from on high, not as a result of any merit of our own (cf. Redemptoris missio RMi 11)!

This grace in turn becomes a source of responsibility. It is the grace that makes us preachers and apostles: this is why I said in the Encyclical Redemptoris missio that "mission is an issue of faith, an accurate indicator of our faith in Christ and his love for us (n. 11). And again: "Unless the missionary is a contemplative, he cannot proclaim Christ in a credible way" (n. 91).

It is by fixing our gaze on Jesus, the missionary of the Father and the high priest, author and perfecter of our faith (cf. Heb He 3,1 He 12,2), that we learn the meaning and style of mission.

3. He came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life for all. In Christ's footsteps, the gift of self to all men and women represents a fundamental imperative for the Church as well as an indication of the method for her mission.

Self-giving means above all recognizing the other's value and his needs. "The missionary attitude always begins with a feeling of deep esteem for "what is in man', for what man has himself worked out in the depths of his spirit concerning the most profound and important problems. It is a question of respecting everything that has been brought about in him by the Spirit, which "blows where it wills'" (Redemptor hominis RH 12).

1204 As Jesus revealed God's solidarity with the human person by totally assuming his condition, except for sin, so the Church wishes to be in solidarity with "the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially those who are poor or afflicted in any way" (Gaudium et spes GS 1). She approaches the human person with the discretion and respect of one who has a service to perform and believes that the first and greatest service is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, to make the Saviour known, the one who revealed the Father and, at the same time, revealed man to himself.

4. The Church wants to proclaim Jesus, the Christ, the son of Mary, by following the way that Christ himself did: service, poverty, humility, the cross. Therefore, she must forcefully resist the temptations that today's Gospel allows us to glimpse in the behaviour of the two brothers who wanted to sit "one at the right and one at the left" of the Master, but also of the other disciples who showed that they were not indifferent to the spirit of rivalry and competition. Christ's words draw a clear dividing line between the spirit of domination and that of service. For one of Christ's disciples, being first means being "the servant of all".

It is an inversion of values, which can be understood only by looking at the Son of man "despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Is 53,3). These are words which the Holy Spirit will enable the Church to understand in relation to the mystery of Christ. Only at Pentecost will the Apostles receive the ability to believe in the "power of weakness" revealed in the Cross.

At this point my thoughts turn to the many missionaries who, day after day, in silence and without the support of any human power, proclaim and, even before, bear witness to their love for Jesus, often to the point of giving their lives, as has recently happened. What a sight opens before our heart's eye! How many brothers and sisters generously spend their energies on the far frontiers of God's kingdom! They are Bishops, priests, religious and lay people who are a living image of Christ for us, showing him concretely as the Lord who came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life out of love for the Father and for his brethren. My appreciation goes to them all, along with my warm encouragement to persevere with confidence. Courage, my brothers and sisters! Christ is with you.

But the entire People of God must be at the side of those who labour in the front lines of the mission "ad gentes", with each one making his contribution, as the founders of the Pontifical Mission Societies understood and stressed so well: everyone can and should participate in evangelization: even the young, even the sick, even the poor with their mite, just like the widow whom Jesus held up as an example (cf. Lc 21,1-4). Mission is the work of all God's People, each one in the vocation to which Providence has called him.

5. Jesus' words about service are also a prophetic message about a new style of relationships to be fostered not only in the Christian community but also in society. We must never lose hope of creating a more fraternal world. Unregulated competition, the desire to dominate others at any cost, the discrimination caused by those who believe themselves superior to others, the unbridled pursuit of wealth are at the origin of injustices, violence and wars.

Jesus' words then become an invitation to pray for peace. Mission is the proclamation of God who is Father, of Jesus who is our older brother, of the Spirit who is love. Mission is humble but impassioned collaboration in the plan of God, who wants humanity to be saved and reconciled. At the summit of human history according to God there is a project of communion. Mission must contribute to this project.

Let us ask the Queen of Peace, Queen of the Missions and Star of Evangelization, for the gift of peace. Let us invoke her maternal protection on all who generously work to spread the name and message of Jesus. May she obtain for us such a living and ardent faith that the proclamation of the truth of Christ, the only Saviour of the world, may be heard with renewed force by the men and women of our time.

Lastly, I would like to recall the words I spoke 22 years ago in this square: "Do not be afraid! Open the doors to Christ!".

S. John Paul II Homil. 1189