Benedict XVI Homilies 21039


Cimangola Square in Luanda, Sunday, 22 March 2009


Dear Cardinals,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (
Jn 3,16). These words fill us with joy and hope, as we await the fulfilment of God’s promises! Today it is my particular joy, as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, to celebrate this Mass with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ from throughout Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe, and so many other countries. With great affection in the Lord I greet the Catholic communities from Luanda, Bengo, Cabinda, Benguela, Huambo, Huìla, Kuàndo Kubàngo, Kunène, North Kwanza, South Kwanza, North Lunda, South Lunda, Malanje, Namibe, Moxico, Uíje and Zàire.

In a special way, I greet my brother Bishops, the members of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa, assembled around this altar of the Lord’s sacrifice. I thank the President of CEAST, Archbishop Damião Franklin, for his kind words of welcome, and, in the person of their Pastors, I greet all the faithful in the nations of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

Today’s first reading has a particular resonance for God’s people in Angola. It is a message of hope addressed to the Chosen People in the land of their Exile, a summons to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Lord’s Temple. Its vivid description of the destruction and ruin caused by war echoes the personal experience of so many people in this country amid the terrible ravages of the civil war. How true it is that war can “destroy everything of value” (cf. 2Ch 36,19): families, whole communities, the fruit of men’s labour, the hopes which guide and sustain their lives and work! This experience is all too familiar to Africa as a whole: the destructive power of civil strife, the descent into a maelstrom of hatred and revenge, the squandering of the efforts of generations of good people. When God’s word – a word meant to build up individuals, communities and the whole human family – is neglected, and when God’s law is “ridiculed, despised, laughed at” (ibid., 2Ch 36,16), the result can only be destruction and injustice: the abasement of our common humanity and the betrayal of our vocation to be sons and daughters of a merciful Father, brothers and sisters of his beloved Son.

So let us draw comfort from the consoling words which we have heard in the first reading! The call to return and rebuild God’s Temple has a particular meaning for each of us. Saint Paul, the two thousandth anniversary of whose birth we celebrate this year, tells us that “we are the temple of the living God” (2Co 6,16). God dwells, we know, in the hearts of all who put their faith in Christ, who are reborn in Baptism and are made temples of the Holy Spirit. Even now, in the unity of the Body of Christ which is the Church, God is calling us to acknowledge the power of his presence within us, to reappropriate the gift of his love and forgiveness, and to become messengers of that merciful love within our families and communities, at school and in the workplace, in every sector of social and political life.

Here in Angola, this Sunday has been set aside as a day of prayer and sacrifice for national reconciliation. The Gospel teaches us that reconciliation, true reconciliation, can only be the fruit of conversion, a change of heart, a new way of thinking. It teaches us that only the power of God’s love can change our hearts and make us triumph over the power of sin and division. When we were “dead through our sins” (Ep 2,5), his love and mercy brought us reconciliation and new life in Christ. This is the heart of the Apostle Paul’s teaching, and it is important for us to remind ourselves: only God’s grace can create a new heart in us! Only his love can change our “hearts of stone” (cf. Ez 11,19) and enable us to build up, rather than tear down. Only God can make all things new!

It is to preach this message of forgiveness, hope and new life in Christ that I have come to Africa. Three days ago, in Yaoundé, I had the joy of promulgating the Instrumentum Laboris for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which will be devoted to the theme: The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. I ask you today, in union with all our brothers and sisters throughout Africa, to pray for this intention: that every Christian on this great continent will experience the healing touch of God’s merciful love, and that the Church in Africa will become “for all, through the witness borne by its sons and daughters, a place of true reconciliation” (Ecclesia in Africa, ).

Dear friends, this is the message that the Pope is bringing to you and your children. You have received power from the Holy Spirit to be the builders of a better tomorrow for your beloved country. In Baptism you were given the Spirit in order to be heralds of God’s Kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace (cf. Roman Missal, Preface of Christ the King). On the day of your Baptism you received the light of Christ. Be faithful to that gift! Be confident that the Gospel can affirm, purify and ennoble the profound human values present in your native culture and traditions: your strong families, your deep religious sense, your joyful celebration of the gift of life, your appreciation of the wisdom of the elderly and the aspirations of the young. Be grateful, then, for the light of Christ! Be grateful for those who brought it, the generations of missionaries who contributed – and continue to contribute – so much to this country’s human and spiritual development. Be grateful for the witness of so many Christian parents, teachers, catechists, priests and religious, who made personal sacrifices in order to pass this precious treasure down to you! And take up the challenge which this great legacy sets before you. Realize that the Church, in Angola and throughout Africa, is meant to be a sign before the world of that unity to which the whole human family is called, through faith in Christ the Redeemer.

The words which Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel are quite striking: He tells us that God’s sentence has already been pronounced upon this world (cf. Jn 3,19ff). The light has already come into the world. Yet men preferred the darkness to the light, because their deeds were evil. How much darkness there is in so many parts of our world! Tragically, the clouds of evil have also overshadowed Africa, including this beloved nation of Angola. We think of the evil of war, the murderous fruits of tribalism and ethnic rivalry, the greed which corrupts men’s hearts, enslaves the poor, and robs future generations of the resources they need to create a more equitable and just society – a society truly and authentically African in its genius and values. And what of that insidious spirit of selfishness which closes individuals in upon themselves, breaks up families, and, by supplanting the great ideals of generosity and self-sacrifice, inevitably leads to hedonism, the escape into false utopias through drug use, sexual irresponsibility, the weakening of the marriage bond and the break-up of families, and the pressure to destroy innocent human life through abortion?

Yet the word of God is a word of unbounded hope. “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son … so that through him, the world might be saved” (Jn 3,16-17). God does not give up on us! He continues to lift our eyes to a future of hope, and he promises us the strength to accomplish it. As Saint Paul tells us in today’s second reading, God created us in Christ Jesus “to live the good life”, a life of good deeds, in accordance with his will (cf. Ep 2,10). He gave us his commandments, not as a burden, but as a source of freedom: the freedom to become men and women of wisdom, teachers of justice and peace, people who believe in others and seek their authentic good. God created us to live in the light, and to be light for the world around us! This is what Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel: “The man who lives by the truth comes out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God” (Jn 3,21).

“Live”, then, “by the truth!” Radiate the light of faith, hope and love in your families and communities! Be witnesses of the holy truth that sets men and women free! You know from bitter experience that, in comparison with the sudden, destructive fury of evil, the work of rebuilding is painfully slow and arduous. Living by the truth takes time, effort and perseverance: it has to begin in our own hearts, in the small daily sacrifices required if we are to be faithful to God’s law, in the little acts by which we demonstrate that we love our neighbours, all our neighbours, regardless of race, ethnicity or language, and by our readiness to work with them to build together on foundations that will endure. Let your parishes become communities where the light of God’s truth and the power of Christ’s reconciling love are not only celebrated, but proclaimed in concrete works of charity. And do not be afraid! Even if it means being a “sign of contradiction” (Lc 2,34) in the face of hardened attitudes and a mentality that sees others as a means to be used, rather than as brothers and sisters to be loved, cherished and helped along the path of freedom, life and hope.

Let me close by addressing a special word to the young people of Angola, and to all young people throughout Africa. Dear young friends: you are the hope of your country’s future, the promise of a better tomorrow! Begin today to grow in your friendship with Jesus, who is “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14,6): a friendship nurtured and deepened by humble and persevering prayer. Seek his will for you by listening to his word daily, and by allowing his law to shape your lives and your relationships. In this way you will become wise and generous prophets of God’s saving love. Become evangelizers of your own peers, leading them by your own example to an appreciation of the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and the hope of a future shaped by the values of God’s Kingdom. The Church needs your witness! Do not be afraid to respond generously to God’s call, whether it be to serve him as a priest or a religious, as a Christian parent, or in the many forms of service to others which the Church sets before you.

Dear brothers and sisters! At the end of today’s first reading, Cyrus, King of Persia, inspired by God, calls the Chosen People to return to their beloved land and to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. May his words be a summons to all God’s People in Angola and throughout Southern Africa: Arise! Ponde-vos a caminho! (cf. 2Ch 36,23) Look to the future with hope, trust in God’s promises, and live in his truth. In this way, you will build something destined to endure, and leave to future generations a lasting inheritance of reconciliation, justice and peace. Amen.


Fifth Sunday of Lent, 29 March 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today's Gospel passage St John refers to an episode that occurred during the last phase of Christ's public ministry, just before the Jewish Passover, which was to be the Passover of his death and Resurrection. While Jesus was in Jerusalem, the Evangelist recounts, some Greeks, proselytes of Judaism who were curious and attracted by what he was doing, approached Philip, one of the Twelve who had a Greek name and came from Galilee. "Sir", they said to him, " we wish to see Jesus". Philip in turn went to Andrew, one of the first Apostles very close to the Lord and who also had a Greek name, and they both went and "told Jesus" (cf.
Jn 12,20-21).

In the request of these anonymous Greeks we can interpret the thirst to see and to know Christ which is in every person's heart; and Jesus' answer orients us to the mystery of Easter, the glorious manifestation of his saving mission. "The hour has come", he declared, "for the Son of man to be glorified (Jn 12,23). Yes! The hour of the glorification of the Son of man is at hand, but it will entail the sorrowful passage through his Passion and death on the Cross. Indeed the divine plan of salvation which is for everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike will only be brought about in this manner. Actually, everyone is invited to be a member of the one people of the new and definitive Covenant. In this light, we also understand the solemn proclamation with which the Gospel passage ends: "and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12,32), and likewise the Evangelist's comment: "He said this to show by what death he was to die" (Jn 12,33). The Cross: the height loftiness of love is the loftiness of Jesus and he attracts all to these heights.

Very appropriately, the liturgy brings us to meditate on this text of John's Gospel today, on this Fifth Sunday of Lent, while the days of the Lord's Passion draw near in which we will immerse ourselves spiritually as from next Sunday which is called, precisely, Palm Sunday and the Sunday of the Lord's Passion. It is as if the Church were encouraging us to share Jesus' state of mind, desiring to prepare us to relive the mystery of his Crucifixion, death and Resurrection not as foreign spectators but on the contrary as protagonists, involved together with him in his mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection. Indeed, where Christ is his disciples called to follow him, to be in in solidarity with him at the moment of the combat must also be in order to share in his victory.

What our association with his mission consists of is explained by the Lord himself. In speaking of his forthcoming glorious death, he uses a simple and at the same time evocative image: "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (Jn 12,24).
He compares himself to a "grain of wheat which has split open, to bring much fruit to others", according to an effective statement of St Athanasius; it is only through death, through the Cross that Christ bears much fruit for all the centuries. Indeed, it was not enough for the Son of God to become incarnate. To bring the divine plan of universal salvation to completion he had to be killed and buried: only in this way was human reality to be accepted, and, through his death and Resurrection, the triumph of Life, the triumph of Love to be made manifest; it was to be proven that love is stronger than death.

Yet the man Jesus who was a true man with the same sentiments as ours felt the burden of the trial and bitter sorrow at the tragic end that awaited him. Precisely since he was God-Man he felt terror even more acutely as he faced the abyss of human sin and all that is unclean in humanity which he had to carry with him and consume in the fire of his love. He had to carry all this with him and transform it in his love. "Now is my soul troubled", he confessed. "And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour?" (Jn 12,27). The temptation to ask: "Save me, do not permit the Cross, give me life!" surfaces. In the distress of his invocation we may grasp in anticipation the anguished prayer of Gethsemane, when, experiencing the drama of loneliness and fear, he implored the Father to take from him the cup of the Passion. At the same time, however, his filial adherence to the divine plan did not fail, because it is precisely this that enables him to know that his hour has come and with trust he prays: "Father, glorify your name" (Jn 12,28). By this he means "I accept the Cross" in which the name of God is glorified, that is, the greatness of his love. Here too Jesus anticipates the words of the Mount of Olives, the process that must be fundamentally brought about in all our prayers: to transform, to allow grace to transform our selfish will and open it to comply with the divine will. The same sentiments surface in the passage of the Letter to the Hebrews proclaimed in the Second Reading. Prostrated by extreme anguish because of the death that was hanging over him, Jesus offers up prayers and supplications to God "with loud cries and tears" (He 5,7). He invokes help from the One who can set him free but always remaining abandoned in the Father's hands. And precisely because of his filial trust in God, the author notes, he was heard, in the sense that he was raised, he received new and definitive life. The Letter to the Hebrews makes us understand that these insistent prayers, of Jesus with tears and cries, were the true act of the High Priest with which he offered himself and humanity to the Father, there by transforming the world.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is the demanding way of the Cross that Jesus points out to all his disciples. On several occasions he said, "If anyone wants to serve me, let him follow me". There is no alternative for the Christian who wishes to fulfil his vocation. It is the "law" of the Cross, described with the image of the grain of wheat that dies in order that new life may germinate; it is the "logic" of the Cross, recalled also in today's Gospel: "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life". "To hate" one's life is a strong and paradoxical Semitic expression that clearly emphasizes the radical totality which must distinguish those who follow Christ and, out of love for him, put themselves at the service of their brethren. They lose their life and thus find it. There is no other way to experience the joy and the true fruitfulness of Love: the way of giving oneself, of self-giving, of losing oneself in order to find oneself.

Dear friends, Jesus' invitation rings out with particular eloquence at today's celebration in this Parish of yours. Indeed, it is dedicated to the Holy Face of Jesus: that Face which "some Greeks", of which the Gospel speaks, wished to see; that Face which in the coming days of the Passion we shall contemplate disfigured by human sins, indifference and ingratitude; that Face, radiant with light and dazzling with glory that will shine out at dawn on Easter Day. Let us keep our hearts and minds fixed on the Face of Christ, dear faithful whom I greet with affection, starting with Fr Luigi Coluzzi, your Parish Priest, to whom I am also grateful for expressing your sentiments. Thank you for your cordial welcome: I am truly glad to be among you on the occasion of the third anniversary of the dedication of your church and I greet you all with affection. I extend a special greeting to the Cardinal Vicar, as well as to Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, who has contributed to the realization of this new parish centre, to the Auxiliary Bishop of the Sector, to Bishop Marcello Costalunga and to the other Prelates present, to the priests who collaborate in the parish, to the praiseworthy women religious of the Congregation of the Poor Daughters of the Visitation who take care of the residents in their Rest Home for the elderly right opposite this beautiful church. I greet the catechists, the Council and the parish workers and those who collaborate in the life of the Parish; I greet the children, the young people and their families. I extend my thoughts with pleasure to the inhabitants of Magliana, especially the elderly, the sick, people who are lonely and in difficulty. I am praying for each and everyone at this Holy Mass.

Dear brothers and sisters, let yourselves be enlightened by the splendour of the Face of Christ, and your young community which can now benefit from a new parish complex, with modern and functional structures will walk united, united by the commitment to proclaim and witness to the Gospel in this neighbourhood. I know what great care you devote to liturgical formation, making the most of every resource of your community: the readers, the choir and all those who are dedicated to enlivening the celebrations. It is important to put always personal and liturgical prayer first in our life. I am aware of the great commitment you devote to catechesis to ensure that it lives up to the expectations of the children, both those preparing to receive the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation and those who attend the After-School Prayer and Recreation Centre. You are also anxious to provide a suitable catechesis for parents, whom you invite to take a course of Christian formation together with their children. In this way you seek to help families to live the sacramental events together, educating and being educated in the faith "in the family", which must be the first and natural "school" of Christian life for all its members. I congratulate you on your open and welcoming parish. It is motivated and enlivened by a sincere love for God and for all the brethren, in imitation of St Maximilian Mary Kolbe to whom it was originally dedicated. In Auschwitz, with heroic courage, he sacrificed himself to save the life of another. In our time, marked by a general social and economic crisis, the effort you are making, above all through the parish Caritas and the Sant'Egidio group, in order, as far as possible, to meet the expectations of the poorest and neediest people is most praiseworthy.

I would like to say a special word of encouragement to you, dear young people: let yourselves be attracted by the fascination of Christ! Fixing his Face with the eyes of the faith, ask him: "Jesus what do you want me to do with you and for you?". Thus, keep listening. Be guided by his Spirit, second the plan he has for you. Prepare yourselves seriously and build families that are united and faithful to the Gospel and to be his witnesses in society; then, if he calls you, be ready to dedicate your whole life to his service in the Church as priests or as men and women religious. I assure you of my prayers; in particular I am expecting you next Thursday in St Peter's Basilica to prepare ourselves for the World Youth Day, which as you know, is being celebrated this year at the diocesan level, next Sunday. We shall remember together my beloved and venerable Predecessor John Paul II on the fourth anniversary of his death. In many circumstances he encouraged young people to encounter Christ and to follow him with enthusiasm and generosity.

Dear brothers and sisters of this parish community, may the infinite love of Christ that shines in his Face be radiant in your every attitude, and become your "daily life". As St Augustine urged in an Easter homily, "Christ has suffered; let us die to sin. Christ is risen; let us live for God. Christ has passsed from this world to the Father; let us not be attached to this earth with our hearts but follow him in the things of above. Our Lord was hung on the wood of the Cross; let us crucify concupiscence of the flesh. he lay in the tomb; buried with him, let us forget past things; he is seated in Heaven; let us concentrate our longing on our desires to supreme things" (S. Agostino, Discourse 229/D, 1).

Heartened by this knowledge, let us continue the Eucharistic celebration, invoking the motherly intercession of Mary, so that our life may become a reflection of Christ's. Let us pray that all those whom we meet may always perceive in our gestures and in our words the pacifying and comforting goodness of his Face. Amen!


St Peter's Basilica, Thursday, 2 April 2009


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Four years ago today my beloved Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, ended his earthly pilgrimage after a period of great suffering that lasted for some time. We are celebrating the Blessed Eucharist in suffrage for his soul, while we thank the Lord for having given him to the Church, for so many years, as a zealous and generous Pastor.

We are united this evening by his memory that lives on in the hearts of the people, as is demonstrated by the uninterrupted pilgrimage of the faithful to his tomb in the Vatican Grottos.
I therefore preside at this Holy Mass with emotion and joy, while I greet and thank you for your presence, venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, and you, dear faithful who have come from various parts of the world, especially from Poland, for this important celebration.

I would like to greet the Poles and in particular the young Poles. On the fourth anniversary of the death of John Paul II, hear his appeal: "Have no fear of entrusting yourselves to [Christ]! He will guide you, he will grant you the strength to follow him every day and in every situation" (Prayer Vigil at Tor Vergata, 19 August 2000). I hope that this thought of the Servant of God will guide you on the paths of your life, and will lead you to the happiness of the morning of the Resurrection.

I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow dear Cardinal Stanislaw, the other Cardinals and Prelates; I greet the priests, and the men and women religious. I greet you in a special way, young people of Rome, who with this celebration are preparing yourselves for the World Youth Day that we will experience together next Sunday, Palm Sunday. Your presence reminds me of the enthusiasm that John Paul II knew how to instil in the new generations. His memory is an incentive to all of us gathered in this Basilica, in which he celebrated the Eucharist on many occasions, to let ourselves be illuminated and called into question by the word of God that has just been proclaimed.

The Gospel on this Thursday in the fifth week of Lent proposes for our meditation the last part of chapter eight of John, which contains as we heard a long discussion on the identity of Jesus. A little earlier he had presented himself as "the light of the world" (
Jn 8,12), using at least three times (Jn 8,24 Jn 8,28 Jn 8,58) the expression "I AM", that forcefully recalls God's name as it was revealed to Moses (cf. Ex 3,14). And he added: "If any one keeps my word, he will never see death" (Jn 8,51), thus declaring that he had been sent by God, who is his Father, to bring men and women the radical freedom from sin and death that is indispensable for entering eternal life. However, his words wounded the pride of those with whom he was conversing and even the reference to the great Patriarch Abraham became a source of conflict. "Truly, truly, I say to you", the Lord said, "before Abraham was, I Am" (Jn 8,58). Without mincing his words, he declared his pre-existence, hence his superiority as regards Abraham, provoking understandably a shocked reaction in the Jews. But Jesus cannot be silent about his identity; he knows that in the end the Father himself will account for him, glorifying him through his death and Resurrection because, precisely when he is raised on the Cross, he will be revealed as the Only-Begotten Son of God (cf. Jn 8,28 Mc 15,39).

Dear Friends, in meditating on this Gospel passage of John it comes naturally to me to consider how difficult it actually is to bear witness to Christ. And my thoughts turn to the beloved Servant of God Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II, who from his youth showed himself to be a daring and ardent champion of Christ: He did not hesitate to expend all his energy in order to spread Christ's light everywhere, he never stooped to compromises when it was a matter of proclaiming and defending his Truth; he never tired of radiating his love. From the beginning of his Pontificate until 2 April 2005, John Paul II was never afraid to proclaim, to everyone and always, that Jesus alone is the Saviour and true Liberator of humankind and of the whole human being.

In the First Reading we heard the words addressed to Abraham: "I will make you exceedingly fruitful" (Gn 17,6). If witnessing to one's adherence to the Gospel is never easy, the certainty that God makes our commitment fruitful when it is sincere and generous is certainly comforting. From this important viewpoint too the spiritual experience of the Servant of God John Paul II is apparent to us. In looking at his life, we see God's promise of fruitfulness to Abraham, as it were, realized and echoed in the First Reading from the Book of Genesis. One might say that especially in the years of his long Pontificate, he brought forth to faith many sons and daughters. You are the visible sign of it, dear young people here this evening: you, the young people of Rome and you, young people who have come from Sydney and from Madrid, to represent in spirit the throngs of young men and women who took part in the 23rd World Youth Day in various parts of the world. How many vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, how many young families determined to live the Gospel ideal and to strive for holiness are bound to the witness and preaching of my venerable Predecessor! How many teenagers converted or persevered on their Christian journey thanks to his prayers, his encouragement, his support and his example!

It is true! John Paul II succeeded in communicating a strong charge of hope founded on faith in Jesus Christ, who "is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (He 13,8), as the motto for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 declared. As an affectionate father and an attentive educator, he pointed out firm and reliable reference points, indispensable to all and especially to the young. And in the hour of his agony and his death, this new generation wished to show him that it had understood his teaching, gathering silently in prayer in St Peter's Square and in so many other places in the world. The young people felt his death would be a loss: it was "their" Pope, whom they saw as "their father" in the faith who had died. At the same time they were aware that as a legacy he had bequeathed to them his courage and the consistency of his witness. Had he not stressed many a time the need for radical adherence to the Gospel, urging adults and young people to take this common educational responsibility seriously? I too, as you know, have wished to take up his concern, pausing on various occasions to speak of the educational emergency that today concerns families, the Church, society and especially the new generations. While they are growing up, the young need adults who can suggest principles and values to them. They feel in need of people who can teach by their example, more than by their words, to expend themselves for high ideals.

But where can one find the light and wisdom to bring to completion this mission that involves us all together, in the Church and in society? It is certainly not enough to appeal to human resources; first of all it is also necessary to trust in divine help. "The Lord is faithful for ever": as we have just prayed in the Responsorial Psalm, sure that God never abandons those who stay faithful to him. This is recalled by the theme for the 24th World Youth Day that will be celebrated at the diocesan level next Sunday. It is taken from St Paul's First Letter to Timothy: "We have set our hope on the living God" (1Tm 4,10). The Apostle speaks on behalf of the Christian community, on behalf of all who have believed in Christ and are different from "others... who have no hope" (1Th 4,13). Indeed, it is precisely because they hope, that is, they have trust in the future, a trust that is not based on human ideas or predictions but on God, the "living God".

Dear young people, it is impossible to live without hope. Experience shows that all things, even our life, are at risk; they can collapse for some internal or external reason at any moment. It is normal: all that is human, hence therefore also hope, has no basis in itself but needs a "rock" to which to be anchored. This is why Paul writes that Christians are called to base human hope on the "Living God".

In him alone does it become safe and dependable. Actually, only God, who revealed the fullness of his love to us in Jesus Christ can be our firm hope. Indeed, in him, our hope, we have been saved (cf. Rm 8,24).

However, be careful: in times like these, given the cultural and social context in which we are living, there may be a greater risk of reducing Christian hope to an ideology, to a group slogan or to outward appearances. Nothing is more contrary to Jesus' message! He does not want his disciples to "recite" a part, even that of hope. He wants them "to be" hope and they can only be hope if they remain united to him! He wishes each one of you, dear young friends, to be a small source of hope for your neighbour and, all together, to become an oasis of hope for the society in which you are integrated. Now this is possible on one condition: that you live of him and in him, through prayer and the sacraments, as I wrote in my Message this year.

If Christ's words remain in us we can spread the flame of love that he kindled on earth; we can bear aloft the torch of faith and hope with which we advance towards him while we await his glorious return at the end of time. It is the torch that Pope John Paul handed on to us. He presented it to me, as his Successor; and this evening I shall present it once again, in spirit, in a special way to you, young people of Rome, so that you may continue to be dawn watchmen, alert and joyful in this dawn of the third millennium. Respond generously to Christ's call! In particular, during the Year for Priests which will begin next 19 June, make yourselves promptly available if Jesus calls you, to follow him on the path of the priesthood or the consecrated life.

"Now is the favourable time. This is the day of salvation!". At the Gospel Acclamation the liturgy urged us to renew now and every moment is a "favourable moment" our decisive will to follow Christ, certain that he is our salvation. This is basically the message that John Paul II repeats to us this evening. While we entrust his elect soul to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary whom he always loved tenderly, let us fervently hope that he will never cease to guide us and to intercede for us from Heaven. May he help each one of us to live, as he did, repeating day after day to God, through Mary with full trust: Totus tuus.


Benedict XVI Homilies 21039