S. John Paul II Homil. 583




Kilimanjaro Stadium, Moshi (Tanzania)

Wednesday, 5 September 1990

"Habari Njema ya Wokovu imeujaza ulimwengu mwanga".
("The Good News of salvation has filled the world with light").

Ndugu zangu,
(Dear Brothers and Sisters),

1. This Eucharistic celebration is a great hymn of thanks giving for the gift of salvation which comes to us from God through Jesus Christ. Here in Moshi we give thanks to God that the Good News of salvation has come to this whole north-eastern part of Tanzania, to Chaggaland.

The Gospel of John tells us that "God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son" (
Jn 3,16). Salvation is the work of God’s love. It was precisely this love which was revealed in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son. In Him the promise of salvation became a reality through His Cross and Resurrection. This great mystery is proclaimed in the theme of this Liturgy: "The Good News of salvation has filled the world with light".

The saving light of Christ first shone on this region a hundred years ago. Ninafurahi sana kuwa nanyi katika sherehe ya Yubilei ya Miaka mia moja tangu Injili ilipohubiriwa jimboni Moshi. Ninapenda kumshukuru Askofu Amedeus Msarikie kwa maneno mazuri ya kunitambulisha. Ninamsalimu Askofu Mkuu wa Kanda hii Kardinali Laurean Rugambwa, ninawasalimu Maaskofu wote waliopo hapa na ninyi nyote; mapadre, watawa na walei wa Jimbo la Moshi na Majimbo ya jirani na wengine kutoka Kenya na Zambia. Pia ninawasalimu kwa moyo wa upendo na heshima viongozi wote wa Manispaa, Chama na Serikali Mkoani, ambao mmejumuika pamoja nasi hapa leo.

(It great joy for me to be with you to celebrate the centenary of the evangelization of this part of Tanzania. I wish to thank Bishop Amedeus Msarikie for his kind words of welcome. I also greet your Metropolitan Archbishop, Cardinal Laurean Rugambwa, the other Bishops present, and all of you, priests, religious and laity from the Diocese of Moshi and the neighbouring dioceses and others from Kenya and Zambia. My cordial and respectful greeting also goes to the representatives of Regional and Municipal Governments and Party Leaders who have wished to honour us with their presence today).

It is fitting that together we give praise to God for the abundant fruits of past and present missionary activity, for the gift of salvation which has found a home in the hearts of the sons and daughters of this land.

585 2. When we witness what God has accomplished here, when we consider the wonderful gifts of grace that fill the life of your local Church, we must ask: where have they come from?

In today’s Gospel Reading the Evangelist Matthew takes us to Galilee, to the mountain where the Risen Christ said to His Apostles: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me" (
Mt 28,18). This is the same Christ whom earlier they had seen crucified and laid in the tomb. Now He is seen speaking in His glorified body, in the glory of the Resurrection, which is the source of His power "in heaven and on earth". This power is the power to command. It is the power to judge. But above all it is the power to save. By virtue of this power Christ sends the Apostles to all the nations of the world: "Go... make disciples... baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28,19).

But that is not all. Our reading from the Acts of the Apostles casts further light on the spread of the Gospel. Before returning to the Father, and while at table with the Apostles, the Risen Christ said to them: "not many days from now you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Act. 1, 5). We know that these words were fulfilled on Pentecost Day, when Christ’s saving power was communicated to the Apostles and to the Church. Yesu alisema: "Mtapokea nguvu, akiisha kuwajilia juu yenu Roho Mtakatifu; nanyi mtakuwa mashahidi wangu katika Yerusalemu, na katika Uyahudi wote, na Samaria na hata mwisho wa nchi!" (Jesus said: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth" (Ibid. 1, 8).

And in the light of history we may add: "You will be my witnesses in Tanzania":Mtakuwa mashahidi wangu katika Tanzania. Yes, in Tanzania too. The Gospel and the gift of salvation arrived here, as they did everywhere - beginning from Jerusalem, Judaea and Samaria - by means of witnesses to Christ who were strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Today the Church in Moshi gives thanks for the light of the Gospel, for the Good News of salvation. Where have these gifts come from, if not from that mountain in Galilee? They have their source in the unique power of the Resurrection, the fullness of which belongs to Christ, the Redeemer of the world.

3. A century ago, the Holy Spirit Fathers Commenginer and Le Roy, under their Bishop, J. M. de Courmont, decided to build a mission at Kilema. It was from there that the Catholic Church spread to other areas in what is now the Diocese of Moshi, beginning with Kibosho in 1892 and Rombo-Mkuu in 1896. Like the first Apostles, these missionaries were moved by the Holy Spirit, after whom their missionary Institute was named. Their story, and the story of the other missionaries who followed them, is a lesson in patience, perseverance and humility in the face of many difficulties, dangers and trials. But it is also a story filled with the confidence and joy described by the Psalmist when he writes: "Those who are sowing in tears, carrying seed for the sowing, will sing when they reap, carrying their sheaves" (Cfr. Ps Ps 125 [124], 5-6).

You, dear brothers and sisters, are the joyful harvest of the missionaries’ labours; you are a new creation of the Holy Spirit, who came upon the Apostles at Pentecost so that "the Good News of salvation" might "fill the world with light". And now, by the Providence which causes the Gospel to advance through time and space, it is your turn to be Christ’s witnesses in the Diocese of Moshi, in Tanzania, on the Continent of Africa and "to the ends of the earth": Sasa ni zamu yenu kuwa mashahidi wa Kristu katika Tanzania, katika bara la Afrika "mpaka mwisho wa nchi".

4. "The Church on earth is missionary by her very nature" (Ad Gentes AGD 2) and evangelization is her special grace, vocation and function (Cfr. Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 14). Each of us, dear brothers and sisters, is called to preach the Gospel, "so that the Lord’s message may spread quickly, and be received with honour among others as it was among you" (Cfr. 2Th 3,1). The Bishops and their fellow workers in the priesthood have a special role to play in bringing new disciples to Christ, but men and women religious and all the laity must also be on fire with the same zeal. All are called to bear witness to the world’s Redeemer in a way that is joyful, vibrant and strong (Cfr. Ad Gentes AGD 21).

In order for this to happen, a truly "catholic" spirit is needed which transcends all boundaries in its eagerness to bring Christ to those both near and far: Kinachohitajika ni kuwa na moyo wa kikatoliki, unaotutia bidii ya kueneza Ufalme wa Mungu popote duniani. Catholicity of this kind expresses itself in prayer for the needs of the universal Church, in material aid, the exchange of personnel, and cooperation in local, national and international works of evangelization. It is a sign of true love of the Church that, even though you have many needs of your own, numerous priests and religious from Chaggaland are at work in other regions and countries. In this way the Church in this region plays an effective part in Christ’s mission: "You will be my witnesses... to the ends of the earth" (Act. 1, 8).

I wish to say a special word of encouragement to the Religious Sisters who are so numerous and perform such a vital service to the Church in Tanzania. Dear Sisters, the testimony of your consecrated life and of your works of love adds enormous vigour to the Christian community and stands as a blazing emblem of the heavenly kingdom (Cfr. Perfectae Caritatis PC 1). Never lose courage and never cease to give thanks for the special and mysterious calling that is yours in the heart of the Church. May God bless each one of you, and increase your numbers for all that still remains to be done.

5. The same witness to the Risen Lord which the Apostles gave - and which lies at the heart of the two-thousand-year history of the "missions" in the Church - is the principal task facing the Church in Africa. A Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops will examine ways and means by which the Christians of the Continent can meet the challenge of evangelization as a new millennium approaches. The Bishops, priests, religious and lay people of the young Churches of Africa are today called to rely more and more on their youthful energies in order to make Christ more widely known, so that "the Good News of salvation will fill the world with light".

The Church knows from experience that the most enduring contribution that can be made to the spread of the faith is a Christian life profoundly lived in everyday circumstances (Cfr. Ad Gentes AGD 36). A local Church is effective as an instrument of evangelization to the degree that it has truly made the Gospel its own, "in a vital way, in depth and right to the very roots" (Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 20). For this witness to bear fruit, it must transmit in word and deed the true message of the faith and of the moral life which the first Christian generations wholeheartedly accepted. The many saints and martyrs of the young African Churches show that what has been handed on since Apostolic times need not be watered down in order to penetrate the rich soil of Africa. The heroic response to the demands of conversion and the challenge of martyrdom constitutes a glorious page in the history of your particular Churches.

586 At the same time, you are faced with the challenge of receiving and giving the Gospel message in an authentically African way. Each people, each tongue of the earth is called to confess and to express "in its own language" (Cfr. Ac 2,8), the Gospel of salvation (Cfr. Lineamenta for the Special Assembly of the Synod of the Bishops for Africa, 47). Under the guidance of the Bishops and in full communion with the universal Church, the young Churches rightly "borrow" from the customs and traditions of their people, from their wisdom and their learning, from their arts and sciences, from all those things which make the truths of the faith more accessible, and which bring a deeper experience of grace and foster a proper ordering of Christian living (Cfr. ibid. 49; Ad Gentes AGD 22). By illuminating and purifying these elements of local life with the Gospel and bringing them into Catholic unity (Cfr. Ad Gentes AGD 22), the whole Church is marvellously enriched. May Mary the Mother of the Redeemer prepare the faithful of Africa for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as her presence among the disciples prepared the first Pentecost in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.

6. My Pastoral Visit to Tanzania is coming to a close and I wish to thank all Tanzanians: Safari yangu ya kichungaji hapa Tanzania inafikia mwisho. Ninapenda kuwashukuru Watanzania wote. I have spent these days in your midst, constantly giving praise to Jesus Christ our Lord for the grace that is in you; for the joyful way you worship God and gather together in fellowship; for the vitality of your dioceses and parishes, of your associations and movements; for the promise that you offer towards the coming of Christ’s kingdom in this land. Having been born from missionary activity, the Church in Tanzania is growing to maturity and is herself becoming missionary.

Is this not the greatest thanks that can be given to God for the gifts of the past century: that you who have so clearly received the Good News now bring it to others? Go forth to meet the great challenge of evangelization, trusting in the Lord’s promise: "I am with you always; yes, to the end of time" (Mt 28,20).

Kristu yupo pamoja nanyi.
Injili iko pamoja nanyi.
Mwanga wa Wokovu uko pamoja nanyi.

Mungu awaimarishe katika imani na awabariki ili muwe mashahidi wa ukweli na upendo wake uletao wokovu, hadi watu wote wa Afrika watakapofurahi na kusema: "Habari Njema ya Wokovu imeujaza ulimwengu mwanga". Amina

(Christ is with you.
The Gospel is with you.

The light of salvation is with you. May God strengthen you in this conviction and bless you as you bear witness to the truth of his saving love, until all the peoples of Africa can rejoice and say: "The Good News of salvation has filled the world with light". Amen).





Independence Stadium, Banjul (The Gambia)

Sunday, 23 February 1992

Nekal horom u aduna si!

Nekaò ler u aduna si!
(Be the salt of the earth!
Be the light of the world!) (cf. Mt
Mt 5,13-16).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. These words, chosen as the theme of the Papal visit to The Gambia, echo the Sermon on the Mount and are a vivid reminder of your Christian identity and mission in the world. For a long time I have wished to come to you, to confirm you in your profession of faith and to encourage you in your Christian life, "so that, seeing your good works, (all) may give praise to your Father in heaven" (Ibid.5, 16) .

Suma nawle Bishop Cleary – njabalekat yi nyi jaybalu ngir yon nyepa ni boka chi jangu kotolic bi chi Gambia: suma mboki kerchen yi, nyi nyu boka di haru – "sunyu yakar ju tehe – nyow u ndam u sonyu yalla ju maga bi ak sunyu musackat Yesu Krista:

Suma haritu serieng si, sen tewai chi hewte gi ni wone na mandarga harito te di firnday legaye gu maga gi serienge si ak kerchen yi muna def di utu jama ak njem kanam:

(Dear Bishop Cleary and all the priests, Religious and laity of the Diocese of Banjul:

588 Dear fellow–Christians, with whom we await "our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ" (Tt 2,13):

Dear Muslim Friends, whose presence at this celebration is a sign of friendship and a token of the great work that Christians and Muslims can do together in the cause of peace and progress):

The Successor of Saint Peter meets the Catholic community of The Gambia on this first day of the week, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord’s Passover from death to new life. Around this altar, the pilgrim Church in The Gambia is drawn into communion with the Blessed Trinity: the Father gives us the Son, so that we may be filled with his Holy Spirit. Here – in Independence Stadium, at Bakau, in The Gambia, in West Africa – we lift up our hearts to God in praise and thanksgiving for his gifts to the Church in this land.

2. Before all else we give thanks for the way in which God has established and built up his Church, first at the mouth of the River Gambia and then along its banks.

It is true that from the fifteenth century until recent times, outside interest in West Africa was often motivated by commercial and political ambition, when it did not involve the terrible scourge and evil of the slave–trade. However, that dark picture was partly lightened by the outstanding example of Christian men and women who had the true love of God in their hearts and wished only to serve the needs and well–being of the peoples of this region. I recall one significant example: Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey, who came to Saint Mary’s Island with three companions in 1821 to care for the sick, so that in their suffering they would know the tender compassion of Christ.

Nanyu len gerem jaybalekat yi njayka indi hibaar bu neh bi di ligil bi chi rew mi.

(We give thanks for the missionaries who first brought the Gospel to this land).

In obedience to Christ’s call, these courageous men and women left their own lands and came to The Gambia, in order to make known the mystery of salvation, to bear witness to the truths and values of the Gospel, to educate the young and to care for the needy.

To all who are listening to my voice I wish to say that the age of the Missions is not over; Christ still needs generous men and women to become heralds of the Good News to the ends of the earth. Do not be afraid to follow him. Share freely with others the faith you have received! "No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 3) .

3. At this Mass we give thanks to God that, from the tiny seed which the first missionaries planted, the Church in The Gambia has grown and is bearing abundant fruits of faith, hope and love. With affection I greet each priest and seminarian who is a native son of The Gambia, each Religious who is child of this land. In love I greet the laity, young and old, the parents of families, the children, the catechumens and, especially, the catechists and the members of the various Catholic Associations.

Mange nuyu wa Bakau, Lamen, Banjul ak Serekunda nyi fayto sowu ak nyepa nyi jogay chi kaw gi – wa Brikama, Bouyam ak Soma Farafeni, Kuntaur, bansang ak Basse.

589 (I greet the people from Bakau, Lamin, Banjul and Serrekunda here in the West, as well as those from up–country: from Brikama, Bwiam and Soma; from Farafenni, Kuntaur, Bansang and Basse).

4. Dear brothers and sisters, today’s reading from Saint Paul (
1Co 15,45-49) explains that our true destiny is to pass from a "material" and earthly life to a "spiritual" and higher life in Christ. In the beginning God breathed a "living soul" (Gn 2,7) into the first man, and Adam became a "living being" (1Co 15,45), the head and father of the entire human family in the order of nature. We are all the offspring of the first Adam, the man of dust, subject to the tyranny of sin and death (Cf. ibid. 15, 49).

But by God’s grace in Baptism we have been recreated in the likeness of the second Adam, Jesus, the Son of the Father (cf. Lk Lc 3,38). He too is a source of life for the whole human family: of a new life, which flows from "the life–giving spirit" (Ibid. 3, 45). This new life will appear in a definitive way at the moment of our resurrection, when even our earthly bodies will pass from death to immortality. Then we shall fully bear the image of the man of heaven, freed from the corruption of sin and death (Cf. ibid. 3, 49). In fact, that image is already impressed on us, and is apparent in all our efforts to live by grace and to do the works of grace.

The All–Holy God has shared his own life with us sinners, out of the overflowing abundance of his love. Our first response then is to sing his praises before all the world: "O my soul, bless the Lord! All that is within me, bless his holy name!" (Ps 102,1 Ps 102,2). When we gather to pray, let us never forget his love and mercy. He has crowned us with the resplendent glory of the Saviour! (Cf. ibid. 2b-4)

5. Because we have died to sin and been raised up to God’s own life, we must walk always in this new life (cf. Rom Rm 6,4-11). This new life, which began at Baptism, develops in us as we grow into the likeness of Christ who "humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Ph 2,8). Having been transformed from children of the old Adam into brothers and sisters of the new Adam, we are filled with his savour and aflame with his light.

Naka Krista bi nyun it war nanyo don horom u aduna si sepa–di ler u aduna si sepa.

(Like Christ, we too must be salt for the whole earth, light for the whole world).

Salt gives flavour and preserves. Light enables us to walk without stumbling. To be salt and light means to perform the works of evangelical love, works whereby the compassion of Christ touches those who are troubled in spirit or afflicted in body, works which transform human activity into a resplendent revelation of God’s presence and his merciful love. From the start, the Catholic community in The Gambia followed the pattern set forth in the Reading from Isaiah which we have heard today: its works of love caused a great light to shine in this land (Cf. Is 58,7-10).

Insofar as you continue to act as the Prophet indicates, you cause the light of Christ to radiate up and down the banks of the River Gambia. When you supply the needs of the poor, relieve those bearing the yoke of oppression and battle against wickedness (Cf. ibid. 58, 7. 9b. 10), the Lord Jesus himself is at work in you, to shatter the darkness of sin and scatter the gloom of despair.

6. Today our world cries out for salt and light from God. Africa needs this savour and fire in order to preserve what is good and just in its traditional culture and values; in order to direct its search for solutions to its pressing problems; in order to enlighten and guide with wisdom its efforts to achieve greater development and a better life for its peoples.

Ne kalen horom, ak ler dimale Gambia m’u tahaw bo bah chi li mo heh.

590 (Be salt, be light, in order to help The Gambia to face these challenges!).

In a particular way, your nation needs the witness of strong Christian family life, for it is above all in the heart of a united and loving family that the young learn essential values and the Christian attitude to the realities and relationships through which we journey to our transcendent destiny. "The family is the first and fundamental school of social living" (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio
FC 37). It teaches the value of human dignity. It teaches respect for each one’s rights. It teaches true justice and solidarity. The communion and constant sharing involved in everyday life in the home is the best training for an active and responsible sharing in the wider life of society.

The truth about the family receives a ready acceptance in the hearts of African men and women, because the strength of Africa has always been the family: Dole Afrika dafa mus di don njabot gi. Your society has been built upon the bonds which expand from the love of husband and wife to embrace children and all who make up the extended family. Your culture’s respect for the family shows how you have always prized the family’s fundamental role in God’s plan. As Christian families, you are called to pass on to future generations this great inheritance, and to strengthen and ennoble it with the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Faithful, exclusive and persevering love between husband and wife is a gift to be asked for in prayer. Prayer strengthens the unity of all the family members. Prayer is a fundamental part of the family’s role as the "domestic Church", when parents and children together humbly and confidently ask God’s grace and aid (Cf. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 59). My appeal to all of you is to strengthen family life, for your own happiness, for the good of the Church, for the welfare of society as a whole.

7. Christians know that their faith obliges them to work with their fellow–citizens for the common good, and to support all that is noble and good in the life of their country (Cf. Lumen Gentium LG 36). By promoting reconciliation and peace, through honesty and integrity in your relationships with others, through your solidarity with the poor and the needy, you make a lasting contribution to the future of your nation. Do not be concerned that you are a "little flock" (cf. Lk Lc 12,32).

A little salt can enhance all the other ingredients in a dish. A little candle can give light to everyone in a room.

There is another reason why this Mass is a joyful prayer of thanksgiving. Side by side with the Christians here today there are many followers of Islam.

Beg nanyu ngir ne sonyu harit u seringe u bare hgi fi tew.

(We are happy that so many Muslim friends are present).

Dear Friends, the revelation which we Christians have received is the "gospel of peace" (Ep 6,15). It is a message of reconciliation with God and between all God’s children. Far from being a source of rivalry or division, it urges us to solidarity and mutual respect. Its very proclamation must be an act of peace, an expression of utmost respect for the dignity and conscience of our hearers. The Catholic Church is grateful for your appreciation of this truth. I pray that the Christians and Muslims of this nation will continue to build upon the good which they find in each other and thus ensure The Gambia’s development and progress as a just and enlightened society in which all its members can play their rightful part.

8. Catholics of The Gambia! Christ is calling you to be salt for every part of this nation and light for every aspect of Gambian society. The Holy Spirit who has been given to you (cf. Rom Rm 5,5) brings grace and truth, not for your own sake alone but for the life of the world (cf. Jn Jn 1,17 Jn 6,33). The challenge before you is arduous, but our Heavenly Father sustains you. He gives you the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation.

591 Receive this gift with confidence, that it may build you up in love. Let the Eucharist be your strength and joy. Let it also be the programme of your Christian life – to be more closely united in Christ, Pastors with your people, all of you one in heart and mind, in solidarity with all your fellow–citizens in promoting the common good.

Yonel sa hel mu sela mi chi sunu i hol yi te esalal sunu i yiw u batise.

Olbatil sunu i hol yi. Degeral len ndah nyu sede ak baneh lepa li yegle bu neeh bi santane. Dimbali nyu yoka sunu ngum ndah nyu di dimbalante chi jubo ak nohofel. Amen.

(Send your Holy Spirit into our hearts and renew in us the grace of Baptism. Change our hearts, strengthen them, so that we may witness with joy to the Gospel message.

Help us to deepen our faith so that we can serve you and each other in unity and love. Amen).






Kaunda Grounds, Gulu

Saturday, 6 February 1993

Rwot waco ni "An Lakwat Maber"
("I am the good shepherd" (Jn 10,11), says the Lord)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

592 1. In the Gospel, Jesus Christ declares: "the Father loves me, because I lay down my life [for my sheep].. No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own free will" (Ibid. 10: 17-18).

In the Old Testament, God had already proclaimed through the Prophets that he is like a shepherd who looks after his sheep and cares for them (cf. Ez.
Ez 34,11). These words were fulfilled in Jesus, the Good Shepherd "who lays down his life for his sheep" (Jn 10,11). Jesus laid down his life out of love. He loves the Father and all whom the Father has given him. He gave his own life so that all people might have eternal life.

Christ, the Good Shepherd, brings salvation. Because of his love for the Father, the Son goes out in search of every human being. He wants to save all men and women, to lead them back to the Father’s house.

The parable of the Good Shepherd helps us to understand the mystery of our Redemption. Each of us has been redeemed by the love of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. The Son’s love for us is so great that he offered his life in sacrifice. He freely embraced the Cross. "No one takes my life from me", says Christ, "I lay it down of my own free will" (Jn 10,18). Jesus’ death on the Cross is the perfect sacrifice of love and the price of our salvation.

2. In every age and in all lands the mystery of Christ’s saving love is proclaimed by the Church built upon the Apostles. Today we rejoice that the faith of the Apostles has taken root in Africa, in Uganda, and borne fruit in the lives of all who believe in Christ. From the day when the Holy Spirit first descended upon the Apostles in the Upper Room, Christ’s Church has never ceased to preach the Gospel to people of every nation under heaven (cf. Acts. Ac 2,5). At this Eucharist we recall with gratitude those who first brought you the Catholic and Apostolic faith. We give thanks for all who have strengthened you by their words and deeds, and planted the seeds which, by God’s grace, will yield an ever more abundant harvest.

Today the Pope, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, rejoices that the Good Shepherd has called the beloved people of Uganda to become members of his flock. With affection in the Lord, I embrace all of you, my brothers and sisters in Christ. I greet my Brother Bishops, especially Bishop Martin Luluga of Gulu, Bishop Frederick Drandua of Arua, Bishop Joseph Oyanga of Lira, and the other Bishops present, especially the Bishops of Sudan. My greetings go to the priests, the men and women Religious, seminarians, the catechists and all the lay faithful who make up your young and vibrant Churches.

We are also honoured and grateful for the presence of His Excellency the President of the Republic, who joins us for this celebration in Northern Uganda.

3. In fulfilling the words of the Prophet, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, shows his concern for all those belonging to his flock: "I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong" (Ez 34,16).

The Good Shepherd is our defender: he protects the whole community, the whole flock, and all belonging to it. He defends it even at the risk of his own life. He is not like the hired man. The hired man is more concerned to save himself (cf. Jn. Jn 1,12-13). As soon as he sees a wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away.

The Good Shepherd also knows his sheep (Cf. ibid. 10: 14). He knows every one of us. He knows the true dignity of each person, because each person is made in the image and likeness of God himself (cf. Gen. Gn 1,26). This is why he knows and loves each human being. And this is why the Good Shepherd is ready to give his own life for each person.

Christ loves each one of us in a unique and special way because he has ransomed each one of us by his death on the Cross. He paid for us with the greatest love. There can be no greater love than this (cf. Jn. Jn 15,13).

593 4. Christians of Uganda! The Good Shepherd is always in your midst! He loves you and he will never abandon you!

Christ is in your midst in a special way through the ministry of the Bishops and the priests who nourish you with the word of God and the Eucharistic Sacrifice. In his love, he sought you out through the work of the missionary priests, especially the Comboni Fathers, who came from afar in order to share the gift of faith with the people of Northern Uganda and to help your young communities to grow to maturity. Your priests’ faithful witness to the love of the Good Shepherd led some of them to lay down their own lives for the flock, sealing their love for their flock by following Christ to the full. They likewise help us to realize that missionary activity is an essential and never–ending task for the Church, and that the true vitality of each particular Church is measured by the missionary vocations it produces.

Jesus says: "I lay down my life [for my sheep]" (
Jn 10,17). To my dear brothers in the priesthood, I say: take these words to heart and let them become the inspiration of your whole priestly existence! Trust in the power of Christ’s love! By making a free gift of yourselves to the Church you will be strengthened in that pastoral charity which enables you to remain faithful to your charge, fruitful in your ministry and ready to render an account of your service on the last day. Only thus will you become what you are called to be: servants of communion, ready to stand by your flock at all times, ready to face difficulties and dangers for their sakes, completely devoted to the building up of the Body of Christ in love and unity.

5. The Good Shepherd, who knows and loves every member of his flock, is also in your midst in the person of all those Christians who devote themselves to serving the needs of their brothers and sisters. Here, in the first place, let us give thanks for the great role which your catechists have had–and still have–in the growth of the Church in Uganda. Their fidelity to Christ often led them to follow in the footsteps of Saint Charles Lwanga and the other martyrs whose sacrifice consecrated the beginnings of the Church’s life in your country.

Because Christ’s love takes root and is expressed in a special way in the experience of families, I encourage Christian parents in their noble vocation to be channels of God’s love for each other and for their children. The family is the cradle in which each new generation comes to know God’s love through the faithful love of fathers and mothers, united before the Lord in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

I add a word of encouragement to the young people who are such an important part of your communities and who represent the future of your country. You too are called to be witnesses to the love of the Good Shepherd: not only in your families and among your friends, but also and especially in your desire to search for the lost sheep, to come to the help of the poor and the outcast. Christ is calling you, with all the generosity and joy of your youth, to be messengers of his love and to reject the selfishness which spreads only unhappiness, hatred and violence.

Among those who have followed the Good Shepherd by laying down their lives for the sheep, I wish also to thank the many men and women Religious who have devoted themselves to serving the Ugandan people. Through their witness, Christ’s special love is made known and made effective in giving people a deeper sense of their own dignity as God’s children. So too the doctors, nurses and health care assistants who in a very real way help to "bandage the wounded and make the weak strong" (cf. Ez. Ez 34,16). Here in Gulu I cannot fail to mention the dedicated work of the staff of Saint Mary’s Hospital. What more impressive witness can be given to our Christian belief in the dignity of each human person, than in the concern for the poor, for the sick, and for those who are dying? I commend you also for your generosity in welcoming the great number of refugees from the Sudan.

Your sacrifices on behalf of these your brothers and sisters will be amply rewarded by the One who himself was once an exile, and who says to his faithful followers: "I was a stranger and you made me welcome" (Mt 25,35).

We know that Christ had a special love for the sick and often reached out to touch and heal them. And so I address a word to all the sick, especially those suffering from AIDS.The Good Shepherd loves each of you! You have a special place in the Church, and you can share actively in her mission by offering your sufferings and prayers in union with Christ, for the needs of the flock, and for the unity and peace of the Lord’s flock.

6. Christ has conquered death! He is the Lord of life, who says: "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (Jn 14,27). Even though we walk through the valley of darkness, we fear no evil, for he is there: with his crook and his staff he gives us comfort (cf. Ps. ). Christ knows the sufferings which Uganda has had to endure! He knows the price you have paid for years of war and unrest! He knows the price you and your children have paid in living with fear and uncertainty! But he repeats: "Be brave: I have conquered the world" (Jn 16,33). Jesus has paid the price in order to ransom you from the power of fear and violence: he has redeemed you by his Blood!

See, he is calling you to be his messengers! He is calling you to build up where others have torn down, to be heralds of hope in the face of cynicism and despair, heralds of love in the face of violence of every kind. Today, in Uganda, in Gulu, I appeal to all of you: be messengers of Christ, the Good Shepherd! Let all people see how you love one another, how you cooperate with one another, overcoming divisions in charity and seeking to serve all people, seeing in them the children of God, your brothers, your sisters. For the sake of your children, for the sake of the future God holds in store for Africa, you must be messengers of the light which casts out the darkness (Cf. ibid. 1: 5). You must overcome the culture of death by building a civilization of love.

594 7. Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, says: "there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock and one shepherd" (Ibid. 10: 16). These are the words Jesus spoke to those who listened to him in the land of Palestine. Today he says the same thing to us–here in Gulu.

Jesus wishes to draw all people to himself. Out of love for the Father, Jesus gave his own life for the salvation of the world. He constantly looks after the people redeemed at the price of his Blood. He fills them with the love which gives salvation. And he looks forward to that final time, when he will give every man and woman back to the Father, so that God will be "all in all" (
1Co 15,28).

Lokristo me Uganda, Lakwat maber tye kwedwu. Uwek en kutel wun iyo metir. Amen.

(Christians of Uganda! Christ, the Good Shepherd, is with you! Let him guide you on the right path! Amen.)

Greetings to the faithful

at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Celebration

Fratelli e Sorelle,

è stata una celebrazione meravigliosa, come meravigliose sono state la vostra partecipazione e la preparazione di questa Santa Messa. Voi pregate non solo con il vostro cuore e con la vostra voce, ma con tutto il vostro essere, le vostre tradizioni, con tutta la vostra identità. Voi pregate con il movimento del corpo, con il canto, con la danza.

È una preghiera di ringraziamento, di offerta di ciò che voi siete e di tutto ciò che avete al Creatore, al Redentore, al Santo Dio. Che questo incontro, questo sacro incontro nell’Eucaristia, permanga sempre per voi come una fonte di benedizione, di divina benedizione. Grazie molte.

S. John Paul II Homil. 583