S. John Paul II Homil. 443


Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Friday, 18 September 1987

“Go... and make disciples of all nation” (Mt 28,19).
“It was in Antioch that the disciples were called Christians for the first time” (Ac 11,26).

444 Dear fellow Christians, dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. Today, here on the west coast of America, in San Francisco, we hear once again the words with which Jesus sends the apostles into the world after his Resurrection. He hands on to them a mission. He sends them forth as he himself had been sent by the Father.

These words of Christ come at the end of his earthly messianic mission. In his Cross and Resurrection are found the basis for his “authority both in heaven and on earth" (
Mt 28,18). This is the authority of the Redeemer, who through the blood of his Cross has ransomed the nations. In them he has established the beginning of a new creation, a new life in the Holy Spirit; in them he has planted the seed of the Kingdom of God. In the power of his authority, as he is leaving the earth and going to the Father, Christ says to his Apostles: "Go... and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of time" (Mt 28,19-20).

2. The Acts of the Apostles describe the beginning of this mission. The point of departure was the Upper Room in Jerusalem. From Jerusalem the travels of the apostles and of their first collaborators led them first to the neighbouring countries and to the people who lived there. In today’s second reading, we hear that the witnesses of the Crucified and Risen Christ reached Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch (Cfr. Ac 11,19).

This occurred also as a result of the dispersion which began with the death of the deacon Stephen and with the persecution of the disciples of Jesus. We know that, at the stoning of Stephen, Saul of Tarsus was present as a persecutor. But the Acts of the Apostles later present him as Paul, after his conversion on the road to Damascus. Together with Barnabas, Paul worked for a whole year in Antioch, and there "they instructed many people". And it was precisely "in Antioch that the disciples were called Christians for the first time" (Ibid.11, 26).

3. What does it mean to be a Christian?

It means accepting the testimony of the apostles concerning the Crucified and Risen Christ. Indeed, it means accepting Christ himself who works in the power of the Holy Spirit. This acceptance is expressed in Baptism, the sacrament in which we are born again of water and the Holy Spirit (Cfr. Io Jn 3,5). In this sacrament, Christ comes to meet us spiritually. As Saint Paul teaches, we are baptized into Christ’s death. Together with him we die to sin, in order to rise with him, to pass from the death of sin to life in God, to the life of sanctifying grace. To new life!

Christians then are those who have been baptized. We are those to whom Christ has come with the salvific power of his Paschal Mystery, those whose lives have been totally shaped by this salvific power. Indeed, Baptism gives us an indelible sign - called a character - with which we are marked throughout all our earthly life and beyond. This sign is with us when we die and when we find ourselves before the judgement of God. Even if in practice our lives are not Christian, this indelible sacramental sign of baptism remains with us for all eternity.

4. The readings of today’s liturgy permit us to respond still more fully to the question: What does it mean to be a Christian?

In the book of the Prophet Isaiah we read about "the mountain of the Lord’s house" (Is 2,2), raised above all things. The prophet says: "All nations shall stream towards it; many peoples shall come and says: ‘Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths’. For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Ibid. 2, 2-3). Yes, the word of the Lord did go forth from Jerusalem. This word is the word of the Gospel. The word of the Cross and Resurrection. Christ charged his apostles to go forth with this word to all the nations-to proclaim it and to baptize.

Through baptism Christ comes to every person with the power of his Paschal Mystery. To accept Christ through baptism, to receive new life in the Holy Spirit - this is what it means to become a Christian. In this way, through the centuries, individuals and entire nations have become Christian

445 To be a Christian means to go up to the mountain to which Christ leads us. To enter into the temple of the living God that is formed in us and in our midst by the Holy Spirit. To be Christian means to continue to become Christian, learning from Christ the ways of the Lord so as to be able "to walk in his paths" (Cfr. Is Is 2,3). To be a Christian means to become one every day, ascending spiritually towards Christ and following him. In fact, as we recall, when Christ first called those who were to become his disciples, he said to them: "Follow me".

5. "It was in Antioch that the disciples were called Christians for the first time". And it was more than two hundred years ago that people in the San Francisco area were called Christians for the first time. Since the arrival of the first settlers and the missionary efforts of Father Palou and his companions, there have always been Christians in San Francisco - people of the most varied cultural backgrounds who have believed Gods word, been baptized, and followed in the footsteps of the Lord.

Here is a city built on hopes: the hopes of Father Serra’s Franciscan missionaries who came to preach the Good News, the hopes of pioneers who came to make their fortunes, the hopes of people who came here to seek peace, the hopes of those who still come to find refuge from violence, persecution or dire poverty. It is the city in which, some forty years ago, statesmen met to establish the United Nations Organization, an expression of our common hopes for a world without war, a world committed to justice and governed by fair laws.

But this city was built also with hard work and effort. Here the Church advanced from the little Mission Dolores to the establishment of the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 1853. It took effort and determination for the city and the Church to recover from the devastating effects of the severe earthquake and terrible fire in the spring of 1906. Yes, it takes great effort to move from initial enthusiasm to something that will really last.“There are in the end”, Saint Paul tells us, “three things that last: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love” (1Co 13,13). It is precisely these virtues faith and hope and love - that have directed and sustained all the efforts of the Church in San Francisco in the past, and that will sustain her well into the future.

6. It was in Antioch that the disciples were called Christians for the first time. Here in San Francisco, and in every city and place, it is necessary for the followers of Jesus to deepen their communion with him so that they are not just Christians in name. The primary means the Church has always employed for this task is a systematic catechesis.

When Jesus sent his disciples forth on mission, he told them to baptize and to teach. Baptism alone is not sufficient. The initial faith and the new life in the Holy Spirit, which are received in baptism, need to advance to fullness. After having begun to experience the mystery of Christ, his followers must develop their understanding of it. They must come to know better Jesus himself and the Kingdom which he proclaimed; they must discover God’s promises in the Scriptures, and learn the requirements and demands of the Gospel.

In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that the members of the first Christian community in Jerusalem “devoted themselves to the apostles’ instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Ac 2,42). Here we have a model of the Church that can serve as a goal of all catechesis. For the Church needs continually to feed on God’s word which comes to us from the apostles, and she needs to celebrate the Eucharist, to be faithful to regular prayer and bear witness to Christ in the ordinary life of the community.

The experience of history has proved the importance of a carefully programmed study of the whole of the Christian mystery. "Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you", Jesus tells the apostles (Cfr. Mt 28,20). There is no substitute for a systematic presentation of all the essentials of our Catholic faith, a presentation which can provide the basis for sound judgements about the problems of life and society, and which can prepare people to stand up for what they believe with both humility and courage. As I stated in my Apostolic Exhortation on Catechesis: "Firm and well-though - out convictions lead to courageous and upright action... Authentic catechesis is always an orderly and systematic initiation into the revelation that God has given of himself to humanity in Christ Jesus, a revelation stored in the depths of the Church’s memory and in Sacred Scripture, and constantly communicated from one generation to the next by a living, active traditio” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Catechesi Tradendae CTR 22).

7. What is the purpose of catechesis? What does it mean, not only to be called Christians, but truly to the Christians? It means being identified with Christ, not only at Mass on Sunday - which is extremely important - but also in all the other activities of life. In speaking about our relationship to him, Jesus himself said: "Remember what I told you: no slave is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours" (Jn 15,20).

To be identified with Christ means that we must live according to God’s word. As the Lord told his first disciples: “You will live in my love if you keep my commandments, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and live in his love” (Ibid. 15, 10). For this reason the Church never ceases to proclaim the whole of the Gospel message, whether it is popular or unpopular, convenient or inconvenient. And the Church is ever mindful of her great task to call people to conversion of mind and heart, just as Jesus did. The first words spoken by Jesus in the Gospel are these: “This is the time of fulfilment. The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel” (Marc. 1, 15).

8. Those who accept the grace of conversion and who live according to God’s word find that, with God’s grace, they begin to put on the mind and heart of Christ. They become increasingly identified with Christ, who is a sign of contradiction.It was Simeon who first foretold that the newborn Son of Mary would be for his own people a sign of contradiction. He tells the Virgin Mother: "This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed" (Lc 2,34). And so it happened. Jesus met with opposition in the message that he preached, and in the all-embracing love that he offered to everyone. Almost from the beginning of his public ministry, he was in fact "a sign that people opposed".

446 Simeon’s words hold true for every generation.Christ remains today a sign of contradiction-a sign of contradiction in his Body, the Church. Therefore, it should not surprise us if, in our efforts to be faithful to Christ’s teachings, we meet with criticism, ridicule or rejection. “If you find that the world hates you”, the Lord told the twelve, “know that it has hated me before you. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own; the reason it hates you is that you do not belong to the world. But I chose you out of the world” (Jn 15,18-19).

These words of our loving Saviour are true for us not only as individuals but also as a community. In fact, the witness to Christ of the entire Christian community has a greater impact than that of a single individual. How important, then, is the Gospel witness of every Christian community, but especially that most fundamental of them all, the Christian family. In the face of many common evils, the Christian family that truly lives the truth of the Gospel in love is most certainly a sign of contradiction; and at the same time it is a source of great hope for those who are eager to do good. Parishes, too, and dioceses, and all other Christian communities which "do not belong to the world", find themselves meeting opposition precisely because they are faithful to Christ. The mystery of the Cross of Christ is renewed in every generation of Christians.

9. When Jesus Christ sent his apostles throughout all the world, he ordered them to "teach all the nations" (Cfr. Mt 28,19-20).

The Gospel, and together with it the salvific power of Christ’s Redemption, is addressed to every person in every nation. It is also addressed to entire nations and peoples. In his vision, the prophet Isaiah sees the peoples who go up to the mountain of the house of the Lord, asking to be instructed in his ways and to walk in his paths (Cfr. Is Is 2,2-3). We too ask to walk in the paths of the living God, the Creator and Redeemer, the one God who lives in inscrutable unity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Continuing to describe his vision, Isaiah says:

"He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again" (Ibid. 2, 4).

447 How greatly we desire to see the future of humanity in the light of these prophetic words! How greatly we desire a world in which justice and peace prevail! Can the Church, which has come forth from such a prophecy - the Church of the Gospel - ever cease to proclaim the message of peace on earth? Can she ever cease to work for the true progress of peoples? Can she ever cease to work for the true dignity of every human person?

To be Christian also means to proclaim this message untiringly in every generation, in our generation, at the end of the second millennium and at the threshold of the third!

“O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!". Amen.


Pontiac Silverdome, Detroit

Saturday, 19 September 1987

“Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ” (Ph 1,27).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. The apostle Paul addresses this appeal to the Christians of Philippi. And today the Church’s liturgy repeats this appeal to all who believe in Christ. As my visit to your country comes to an end, it is my special joy this evening to reflect on those words with you, the people of the Church in Detroit, as well as visitors from elsewhere in Michigan, from nearby Canada and from other areas.

From the humble beginnings of the foundation of Detroit in the year 1701, the proclamation of God’s word in this region has continued unbroken, despite hardships and setbacks, and has reached a level of maturity and a fruitfulness unimagined by the early missionaries. Many years separate us from the first celebration of the Eucharist by the priests who accompanied Cadillac, the founder of Detroit, and yet we know that our communion this evening in the Body and Blood of Christ also links us with them and with all who have gone before us in faith.

With you I give thanks to God for the courage, dedication and perseverance of the many clergy, religious and laity who worked so hard during all these years, first to share their faith with the Native Americans of this area, and then to preserve and spread the faith among those of almost every race and nation who settled here. I also give thanks with you for the intrepid Catholic faith of so many of your parents and grandparents who came to Michigan in order to find liberty and in order to build a better life for themselves and especially for you, their children and grandchildren. Whatever may be the path by which you have received the gift of your Catholic faith, it is due in some measure to those who have gone before you here. Their voices are joined to that of Saint Paul when he says to us: "Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ".

448 2. We read this exhortation this evening in the light of the Gospel parable of the workers sent by the owner of an estate into his vineyard, after he has agreed with them on the daily wage. Our Lord often taught through parables like this one. By using images from daily life, he led his hearers to insights about the Kingdom or Reign of God. Using parables, he was able to raise their minds and hearts from what is seen to what is unseen.When we remember that the things of this world already bear the imprint of God’s Kingdom, it is not surprising that the imagery of the parables is so well suited to the Gospel message.

On the one hand, the vineyard of which Jesus speaks is an earthly reality, as is the work to be done in it. On the other hand, the vineyard is an image of the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom is described in the Gospel as "the vineyard of the Lord".

3. Let us reflect for a moment on the first of these realities - the earthly vineyard - as a workplace, as the place where you and I must earn our daily bread. As I said in the encyclicalLaborem Exercens: "Man must work, both because the Creator has commanded it and because of his own humanity, which requires work in order be maintained and developed. Man must work out of regard for others, especially his own family, but also for the society he is a child, and the whole human family of which he is a member since he is the heir to the work of generations and at the same time a sharer in building the future of those who will come after him in the succession of history" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Laborem Exercens
LE 16).

Accordingly, the Church considers it her task to focus attention on the dignity and rights of workers, to condemn violations of that dignity and those rights, and to provide guidance for authentic human progress (Cfr. ibid. 1). The Church’s goal is to uplift ever more the family of mankind in the light of Christ’s word and by its power.

Central to the Church’s teaching is the conviction that people are more important than things; that work is "for man" and not man "for work"; that the person is both the subject and purpose of all work and cannot be reduced to a mere instrument of production; that the person is to be valued for what he or she is rather than for what he or she owns (Cfr. ibid.6. 12; Gaudium et Spes GS 35). This last truth in particular reminds us that the only gift we can offer God that is truly worthy of him is the gift of ourselves, as we discover in the message of today’s Gospel parable.

4. That message, as I mentioned, has to do with a spiritual reality, the Kingdom of God, towards which Jesus seeks to raise the minds and hearts of his listeners. He begins today’s parable with the words: "The reign of God is like the case of the owner of an estate who went out at dawn to hire workmen for his vineyard" (Mt 20,1). That our Lord is speaking aboutmore than just human work and wages should be clear from the owner’s actions and the ensuing conflict between him and some of the workers. It is not that the owner refuses to honour the agreement about wages. The dispute arises because he gives the same pay to everybody, whether the person worked all day or only part of the day. Each receives the sum which had been agreed upon. Thus the owner of the estate shows generosity to the latecomers, to the indignation of those who had worked all day. To them this generosity seems to be an injustice. And what response does the owner give? “I am free”, he says, “to do as I please with my money, am I not? Or are you envious because I am generous?” (Mt 20,15).

In this parable we find one of those seeming contradictions, those paradoxes, that appear in the Gospel. It arises from the fact that the parable is describing two different standards. One is the standard by which justice is measured by things. The other standard belongs to the Kingdom of God, in which the way of measuring is not the just distribution of things but the giving of a gift, and, ultimately, the greatest gift of all - the gift of self.

5. The owner of the estate pays the workers according to the value of their work, that is, the sum of one denarius. But in the Kingdom of God the pay or wages is God himself. This is what Jesus is trying to teach. When it comes to salvation in the Kingdom of God, it is not a question of just wages but of the undeserved generosity of God, who gives himself as the supreme gift to each and every person who shares in divine life through sanctifying grace.

Such a recompense or reward cannot be measured in material terms. When a person gives the gift of self, even in human relations, the gift cannot be measured in quantity. The gift is one and undivided because the giver is one and undivided.

How can we receive such a gift? We look to Saint Paul for an answer. His words in the Letter to the Philippians are fascinating: "I firmly trust and anticipate that I shall never be put to shame for my hopes... Christ will be exalted through me, whether I live or die. For, to me, ‘life’ means Christ; hence dying is so much gain" (Ph 1,20-21).

With these words of Saint Paul we find ourselves at the very heart of that standard of measurement which belongs to the kingdom of heaven. When we receive a gift, we must respond with a gift. We can only respond to the gift of God in Jesus Christ - his Cross and Resurrection - in the way that Paul responded - with the gift of ourselves. All that Paul is, is contained in this gift of self, both his life and his death. The gift of a person’s life cannot be valued merely in terms of the number of hours spent in an earthly vineyard.

449 Saint Paul, and everyone like him, realizes that one can never match or equal the value of God’s gift of himself to us. The only measure that applies is the measure of love. And love’s measure, as Saint Bernard says, is to love without measure (S. Bernardi De Diligendo Deo, I, 1). This makes it possible for the last to be first, and the first last (Cfr. Mt 20,16).

6. There is another episode, in the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus says to one of the pharisees who is scandalized at the behaviour of a woman known to be a sinner: her many sins are forgiven-because of her great love” (Lc 7,47). We do well to reflect upon the love in the heart of this woman, who washed the Lord’s feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. We can imagine the bitter sorrow that led her to such an extravagant gesture. Yet by giving herself humbly to God, she discovered the far greater and underserved gift of which we have spoken, namely, God’s gift of himself to her.Through this exchange of gifts, the woman found herself once again, only now she was healed and restored. “Your sins are forgiven”, Jesus says to her, “... go in peace” (Ibid. 7, 48).

For us too, sinners that we are, it is all too easy to squander our love, to use it in the wrong way. And like the pharisee, we do not easily understand the power of love to transform.Only in the Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ do we come to see that love is the measure of all things in the Kingdom of God, because "God is love" (1Io. 4, 8). We can fully experience love in this life only through faith and repentance.

7. "Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ". As Christians we live and work in this world, which is symbolized by the vineyard, but at the same time we are called to work in the vineyard of the Lord. We live this visible earthly life and at the same time the life of the Kingdom of God, which is the ultimate destiny and vocation of every person. How then are we to conduct ourselves worthily in regard to these two realities?

In the Credo of the People of God proclaimed by my predecessor Paul VI, we find an answer to that question, an answer that reflects the faith of the Church in the light of the Second Vatican Council, particularly the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: "We confess that the Kingdom of God... is not of this world... and that its growth cannot be confused with the progress of civilization, science or technology. The true growth of the Kingdom of God consists in an ever deeper knowledge of the unfathomable riches of Christ, in an ever stronger hope in eternal blessings, in an ever more fervent response to the love of God... But this same love also leads the Church to show constant concern for the true temporal welfare of people . . . Although the Church does not cease to remind her children that here they have no lasting city, she also urges them to contribute, according to their vocation and means, to the welfare of this their earthly home . . . and to devote themselves to helping the poorest and neediest of their brothers and sisters. This intense solicitude of the Church... for the needs of people, their joys and hopes, their griefs and labours, is nothing other than her great desire to be present with them in order to illuminate them with the light of Christ and gather them into one in him who alone is their Saviour" (Pauli VI "Credo" Populi Dei, die 30 iun. 1968:Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, VI (1968) 289ss).

Dear brothers and sisters: these words tell us what is meant by conduct worthy of the Gospel of Christ - that Gospel which we have heard and believed, and are called to live every day. And today in this Eucharistic sacrifice we offer our work, our activities, our whole lives to the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ. We call upon God to accept the gift of ourselves.

8. "The Lord is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth" (Ps 17-18).

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah speaks in the name of the Lord, who in the Gospel parable is symbolized by the owner of the vineyard. The Lord says: "my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways... As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above our thoughts" (Is 55,8-9).

450 And so, my brothers and sisters, “Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ", that is to say, measure the things of this world by the standard of the Kingdom of God.
Not the other way around!
Not the other way around!
“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call to him while he is near" (Ibid.55, 6).
He is near! The Lord is near!
The Kingdom of God is within us. Amen.


Camp Ground of Fort Simpson

Sunday, 20 September 1987

“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near” (Is 55,6).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. We have waited a long time for this moment. Almost exactly three years ago my visit to Denendeh was prevented by weather conditions. Now, at last, God has brought us together and gives us the privilege of celebrating the Eucharist of the Twenty-fifth Sunday of the Year.

451 Je salue mes frères les Evêques, spécialement Monseigneur Denis Croteau, Evêque de ce diocèse de Mackenzie-Fort Smith. Je salue également les prêtres, les religieux, les religieuses et les laïcs. Je remercie Son Excellence le Gouverneur Général d’avoir tenu à venir ici, ainsi que les Représentants des Autorités civiles canadiennes. Je suis particulièrement heureux de rencontrer les membres des Tribus et des Peuples descendant des premiers habitants de ce pays, qui ont souhaité à maintes reprises que je vienne et qui sont maintenant réunis en grand nombre en cette circonstance festive. Je voudrais exprimer ma reconnaissance à l’Assemblée des Premières Nations, à la Tapirisat Inuit du Canada, au Conseil national des Métis et au Conseil des Autochtones du Canada pour leur collaboration à l’organisation de cette visite. Je vous salue tous dans l’amour de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ. Une fois encore, je proclame votre dignité d’hommes et de chrétiens, et je vous apporte mon soutien dans vos efforts pour répondre à votre vocation temporelle et éternelle.

2. "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near" (
Is 55,6). These words from the first reading are a pressing invitation to raise your thoughts to the Father, from whom all good gifts come, that he may continue to guide your destiny as Aboriginal peoples along the path of peace, in reconciliation with all others, in the experience of an effective solidarity on the part of the Church and of society in attaining your legitimate rights.

For untold generations, you the native peoples have lived in a relationship of trust with the Creator, seeing the beauty and the richness of the land as coming from his bountiful hand and as deserving wise use and conservation. Today you are working to preserve your traditions and consolidate your rights as Aboriginal peoples. In this circumstance today’s liturgy has a deep application.

3. The Prophet Isaiah is speaking to a people experiencing the sufferings of exile and yearning for rebirth, especially a renewal of the spirit through the rebirth of their culture and traditions. He seeks to console them and strengthen them in their task by reminding them that the Lord is not far from them (Cfr. ibid. 55, 6-9).

But where is he to be found? How can we live in God’s presence? The Prophet indicates three steps for unveiling the presence of God in our personal and collective experience.

First, he says: “call him”. Yes, in prayer we will find the Lord. By calling upon him with trust you will discover that he is near.

But prayer must come from a pure heart.Consequently, the Prophet launches a call toconversion: “turn to the Lord for mercy... to our God, who is generous in forgiving” (Is 55,7).

And finally, we are called to transform our lives by learning to walk in the ways of the Lord: “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts” (Ibid. 55, 9). The covenant between God hand his people is constantly renewed when they invoke his merciful forgiveness and keep his commandments. God is our God and we are more and more his people.

4. In the Gospel reading, Jesus speaks of the owner of an estate who goes out at different hours to hire workers for his land (Cfr. Mt 20,1-16). The parable portrays the unlimited generosity of God, who is concerned about providing for the needs of all people. It is the landowner’s compassion for the poor - in this case, the unemployed - that compels him to pay all the workers a wage that is calculated not only according to the laws of the market-place, but according to the real needs of each one.

Life in God’s kingdom is based on a true sense of solidarity, sharing and community. His is akingdom of justice, peace and love. It is our task to build a society in which these Gospel values will be applied to every concrete situation and relationship.

5. Today, this parable of cultivating the Lord’s vineyard presents a real challenge to Aboriginal nations and communities. As native peoples you are faced with a supreme test: that of promoting the religious, cultural and social values that will uphold your human dignity and ensure your future well-being. Your sense of sharing, your understanding of human community rooted in the family, the highly valued relationships between your elders and your young people, your spiritual view of creation which calls for responsible care and protection of the environment - all of these traditional aspects of your way of life need to be preserved and cherished.

452 This concern with your own native life in no way excludes your openness to the wider community. It is a time for reconciliation, for new relationships of mutual respect and collaboration in reaching a truly just solution to unresolved issues.

6. Above all, I pray that my visit may be a time of comfort and encouragement for the Catholic communities among you. The pioneering efforts of the missionaries - to whom once again the Church expresses her profound and lasting gratitude - have given rise among you to living communities of faith and Christian life. The challenge is for you to become more active in the life of the Church. I understand that Bishop Croteau and the other bishops of the North are seeking ways of revitalizing the local Churches so that you may become ever more effective witnesses of God’s kingdom of love, justice, peace, forgiveness and human solidarity.

My dear Indian, Inuit and Metis friends, I appeal to all of you, especially the young people, to accept roles of responsibility and to contribute your talents to building up the Church among your peoples. I ask all the elders, leaders and parents to encourage and support vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In this way the Church will become ever more at home in your own cultures, evangelizing and strengthening your traditional values and customs.

7. I have come today, dear brothers and sisters, to proclaim to you Jesus Christ and to proclaim that he is your friend and your Saviour. In his name, with the love of the Good Shepherd, I repeat the words of the second reading: "Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ" (
Ph 1,27). By doing this, Christ will be exalted in all your actions (Cfr. ibid. 1, 20), and his peace will reign in your hearts.

We are about to renew our baptismal promises.This is a solemn moment. By rejecting sin and evil, and by renewing our trust in the power of Christ’s saving mysteries, we are, in fact,reaffirming our covenant with God. He is our God, and we are his people.

As we commit ourselves further to God’s ways, may we be filled with the spiritual joy of Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer and our Mother in the faith. May her words express the deepest sentiments of our own hearts:

“My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit finds in God my saviour...
God who is mighty has done great things for me,
holy is his name” (Lc 1,46-47 Lc 1,49). Amen.

S. John Paul II Homil. 443