S. John Paul II Homil. 659
Aqueduct Racecourse in Brooklyn, New York
Friday, 6 October 1995
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel bring me back to my youth and remind me of a song we used to sing in my home parish at Wadowice. The words of that song are very simple, but at the same time very profound: "Come, Holy Spirit, we stand in need of your grace. Make us grow in the heavenly knowledge you have revealed. Make it easy for us to understand it, and by our perseverance may it remain in us. Enlightened by that truth, we shall be confirmed in goodness."
660 These words express well the theology of the Holy Spirit, through whom the Father reveals what is "hidden from the learned and the clever" (Mt 11,25), and through whom the Son reveals the Father (Cf. ibid. 11: 27). The Spirit, in fact, is the active agent of the Church’s evangelizing mission. For this reason, the Church constantly invokes the Holy Spirit upon individual communities, and today we renew that invocation here, at the Aqueduct Race Track in Queens.
2. I am happy to see such a representative gathering of the faithful of this local Church. I greet all of you with warm affection: Your stalwart Pastor, Bishop Thomas Daily; my Brothers: Cardinals and Bishops; the priests, deacons, Religious and laity from the Diocese of Brooklyn and many other Dioceses. At the same time my greetings go to the leaders of the various religious denominations and the civil authorities from both local and State government. I am pleased also to greet the different Councils of the Knights of Columbus from the United States and Canada which are represented here, together with the Supreme Knight, Mr. Virgil Dechant. Gathered around the Altar of the Lord, let us offer this sacred act of worship, asking for strength to meet the challenges of the new evangelization to which the Holy Spirit is calling the Church of God.
Sé que en esta misa se hallan presentes numerosas personas, familias y comunidades de lengua española. Tienen un lugar especial en el corazón del Papa y de la Iglesia. A cada uno de ustedes expreso mi más cordial amor y afecto en el Señor.
3. The theme of this morning’s Holy Mass is the "Progress of Peoples". This is an appropriate issue in the context of my visit to the United States for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations Organization. The Pope’s presence at that international forum is in fact an act of evangelization, aimed at serving the progress of humanity in the great family of nations which that World Organization represents.
The "progress of peoples" is closely connected with the proclamation of Christ’s message of salvation and hope. Of this salvation Isaiah speaks in the first reading: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone" (Is 9,1). This darkness stands for the spiritual darkness which sometimes envelops people, nations and history itself, in its desolate mantle. Certainly the twentieth century has witnessed such periods of gloom. The two World Wars were times of great darkness which plunged peoples and nations into immense suffering. For many people, the twentieth century continues to be a time of terrible anguish and torture. From the depths of such sad experiences the human family searches for a path of justice and peace.
4. Isaías, a continuación, asegura que la justicia y la paz genuinas, el auténtico progreso de los pueblos, se centran en el plan de Dios de enviar a un Salvador. En efecto, escribe: “Un niño nos ha nacido, un hijo se nos ha dado... Grande es su señorío y la paz no tendrá fin... Él lo restaura y lo consolida por la equidad y la justicia, desde ahora y hasta siempre” (Is 9,5-6). Aquí el Profeta habla del Mesías, cuya venida Israel esperaba con tanto anhelo. Éste es el Mesías en quien tienen puestas tantas expectativas los hombres y mujeres de hoy, especialmente cuando han estado inmersos en las devastadoras experiencias de la guerra, los campos de concentración, la brutalidad y el desprecio de la dignidad humana.
Aquí las palabras de Jesús, que es nuestra salvación y nuestra esperanza, cobran un significado especial: “Venid a mí todos los que estáis fatigados y sobrecargados, y yo os daré descanso” (Mt 11,28). Cristo mismo llevó una carga, y su carga – la Cruz – se hizo más pesada por los pecados de todos nosotros. Pero Cristo no huyó de la cruz; la aceptó y la llevó voluntariamente. Además, ahora está al lado de los que sufren pruebas y persecuciones, y permanece a su lado hasta el final. Precisamente por todos y con todos él lleva la Cruz hasta el Calvario, y allí es clavado en la Cruz por todos nosotros. Muere como un criminal, con la muerte más humillante para el mundo de entonces. Por eso, a los que, en nuestro siglo, llevan sobre sus hombres cargas terribles puede decirles: “Venid a mí. Yo soy vuestro hermano en el sufrimiento. No hay humillación o amargura que yo no conozca”.
5. It is precisely through the Gospel of the Cross and through his Resurrection that Christ lays the foundations for the advancement of God’s Kingdom in the world. The presence of this Kingdom opens to us the dimension of eternity in God, and discloses the deepest meaning of our efforts to improve life here on earth. People everywhere thirst for a full and free life worthy of the human person. There is a great desire for political, social and economic institutions which will help individuals and nations to affirm and develop their dignity (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 9).
What kind of society is worthy of the human person? The Church responds with the unique perspective of salvation history. She proclaims the truth that the Word of God, through whom all things were made, was himself made flesh and dwelt among us. He entered the world’s history – our history – as a man, a human being, a divine person; he took on our history and made it complete. By his Resurrection he became Lord and was given full power in heaven and on earth. Thus through the power of his Spirit, Christ is now at work in our hearts and in our world. The Spirit instills in us a desire for the world to come, but he also inspires, purifies and strengthens those noble longings by which we strive to make earthly life more human (Cf. ibid. 38).
6. Dear Friends, we are gathered together in this enormous metropolis of New York, considered by many to be the zenith of modern civilization and progress, a symbol of America and American life. For more than two hundred years people of different nations, languages and cultures have come here, bringing memories and traditions of the "old country", while at the same time becoming part of a new nation. America has a reputation the world over, a reputation of power, prestige and wealth. But not everyone here is powerful; not everyone here is rich. In fact, America’s sometimes extravagant affluence often conceals much hardship and poverty.
From the viewpoint of the Kingdom of God we must therefore ask a very basic question: have the people living in this huge metropolis lost sight of the blessings which belong to the poor in spirit? In the midst of the magnificent scientific and technological civilization of which America is proud, and especially here in Queens, in Brooklyn, in New York, is there room for the mystery of God? That mystery which is "revealed to the merest children" (Mt 11,25); the mystery of the Father and the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit; the mystery of divine love which is the source of everything? Is there room for the mystery of love? Is there room for the revelation of life – that transcendent life which Christ brings us at the price of his Cross and through the victory of his Resurrection?
661 The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is open to every aspect of earthly progress which helps people to discover and enter the space of divine life, the space of eternal salvation.This is the work of the Church; this is the work which the Holy Spirit will accomplish through all of us, if only we will heed the truth he reveals and be confirmed in goodness!
7. In practical terms, this truth tells us that there can be no life worthy of the human person without a culture – and a legal system – that honors and defends marriage and the family.The well-being of individuals and communities depends on the healthy state of the family. A few years ago, your National Commission on America’s Urban Families concluded, and I quote: "The family trend of our time is the deinstitutionalization of marriage and the steady disintegration of the mother – father child – raising unit... No domestic trend is more threatening to the well-being of our children and to our long-term national security" (Report, January 1993). I quote these words to show that it is not just the Pope and the Church who speak with concern about these important issues.
Society must strongly re-affirm the right of the child to grow up in a family in which, as far as possible, both parents are present. Fathers of families must accept their full share of responsibility for the lives and upbringing of their children. Both parents must spend time with their children, and be personally interested in their moral and religious education. Children need not only material support from their parents, but more importantly a secure, affectionate and morally correct family environment.
Catholic parents must learn to form their family as a "domestic Church", a church in the home as it were, where God is honored, his law is respected, prayer is a normal event, virtue is transmitted by word and example, and everyone shares the hopes, the problems and sufferings of everyone else. All this is not to advocate a return to some outdated style of living: it is to return to the roots of human development and human happiness!
8. The truth which Christ reveals tells us that we must support one another and work together with others, despite cultural, social or religious differences. It challenges us to be involved. It gives us the courage to see Christ in our neighbor and to serve him there. And, in imitation of our Divine Master who said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome" (Mt 11,28), we ought to invite others to come to us by stretching out a helping hand to those in need, by welcoming the newcomer, by speaking words of comfort to the afflicted. This is the goodness in which the Holy Spirit confirms us! This is how you – women and men; young people and old; married couples and singles; parents, children and families; students and teachers; professional people, those who work and those who are suffering the terrible burden of unemployment – this is how everyone can make a positive contribution to America and help to transform your culture into a vibrant culture of life.
This, dear Brothers and Sisters, is what it means to work for the Kingdom of God in America today. This is the way which leads to the true progress of nations and peoples; it is the path of justice and peace, the light which shines in the darkness, the yoke which is easy and the burden which is light. This is where our souls will find rest.
"Come, Holy Spirit, we stand in need of your grace. Make us grow in the heavenly knowledge you have revealed. Make it easy for us to understand it, and by our perseverance may it remain in us. Enlightened by that truth, we will be confirmed in goodness". Praised be Jesus Christ! Amen.
Chapel of Saint Joseph's Seminary, Yonkers
Friday, 6 October 1995
"O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come, teach us the way of wisdom" (Advent Antiphon, December 17).
Dear Brothers, Cardinals, Bishops,
662 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. These words of the Advent Antiphon come to mind as we listen to the reading of today’s Vespers here in this beautiful chapel of Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul writes of wisdom: "What we utter is God’s wisdom: a mysterious, a hidden wisdom. God planned it before all ages for our glory" (1Co 2,7). But what wisdom is this? Saint Paul is speaking of God’s plan for our salvation, the plan brought to completion by the Eternal Word, Divine Wisdom himself, the Son who is of one being with the Father, the Holy Word of God spoken of in the Advent Antiphon. This is the Word, of course, of whom Saint John speaks in the Prologue of his Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word. The Word was in God’s presence and the Word was God... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory" (Jn 1,1 Jn 14).
2. Dear members of this Seminary community, and you from other Seminaries, as well as the many people outside this Chapel who have joined us: Eternal Wisdom became flesh, being born of the Virgin Mary. This is why we pray to Mary as the "Seat of Wisdom", Sedes Sapientiae.Wisdom, the Person of the Son, was conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. Born of her flesh, Jesus is Eternal Wisdom, the Son of God, whose glory is revealed in his passing from the Cross to the Resurrection. It is crucial that you seminarians understand this because, as Saint Paul says, the "rulers of this age" did not understand God’s wisdom at the time, for – he writes – "if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory" (1Co 2,8). And many do not understand it today.
Even some who call themselves Christians do not recognize that Christ is the Eternal Son of the Father who brings true wisdom into the world. For this reason, they do not understand or accept the teachings of the Church. Perhaps you have already been confronted by this. You will certainly have to confront it as priests. If you are to become priests, it will be for the purpose – above all other purposes – of proclaiming the Word of God and feeding God’s people with the Body and Blood of Christ. If you do this faithfully, teaching the wisdom that comes from above, you will often be ignored as Christ was ignored, and even rejected as Christ was rejected. "I preach Christ and Christ crucified", says Saint Paul (Cf. ibid. 1: 23).
3. Why has the Pope come to Dunwoodie to give you such a serious message? Because in Christ we are friends (cf. Jn. Jn 15,15), and friends can talk about serious matters. If there is one challenge facing the Church and her priests today, it is the challenge of transmitting the Christian message whole and entire, without letting it be emptied of its substance. The Gospel cannot be reduced to mere human wisdom. Salvation lies not in clever human words or schemes, but in the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wisdom of the Cross is at the heart of the life and ministry of every priest. This is the sublime "science" which, above all other learning, the Seminary is meant to impart to you: "The Spirit we have received is not the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit... we speak... not in words of human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit" (1Co 2,12-13).
This is also the framework of the service I have tried to render at the United Nations during these days. If the Pope did something other than what Saint Paul calls "interpreting spiritual things in spiritual terms" (Ibid. 2: 13), what message could he preach? How could I justify my presence and my speaking to that Assembly? My task is not to speak in purely human terms about merely human values, but in spiritual terms about spiritual values, which are ultimately what make us fully human.
4. Over the magnificent doors of this chapel I am able to read words that have a very special meaning for me: "Aperite portas Redemptori". These were my words to the peoples of the world at the very beginning of my Pontificate: "Help the Pope", I said, "and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ’s power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ"! (John Paul II, Homily at Saint Peter's Basilica, 5, 22 October 1978)
Do not be afraid, I say, because great courage is required if we are to open the doors to Christ, if we are to let Christ enter into our hearts so fully that we can say with Saint Paul, "The life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me" (Ga 2,20), Conquering fear is the first and indispensable step for the priest if he is to open the doors, first of his own heart, then of the hearts of the people he serves, to Christ the Redeemer. You need courage to follow Christ, especially when you recognize that so much of our dominant culture is a culture of flight from God, a culture which displays a not – so – hidden contempt for human life, beginning with the lives of the unborn, and extending to contempt for the frail and the elderly. Some people say that the Pope speaks too much about the "culture of death". But these are times in which – as I wrote in my Encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" – "choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable" (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae EV 4). The Church cannot ignore what is happening.
5. And yet, this is only one part of the picture. The complete picture is what I wrote at the beginning of the same Encyclical: "The Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as ‘good news’ to the people of every age and culture" (Ibid. 1). Therefore, dear Seminarians, you must not be afraid to confront the "wisdom of this world" with the certainty of the teachings of Christ in which you are grounded, but above all with the love of Christ, with the compassion and the mercy of Christ, who – like the Father – desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (cf. 1Tim. 1Tm 2,4). The disciple cannot be greater than the master (cf. Mt. Mt 10,24). You will not become priests to be served, or to lord it over others (Cf. ibid. 20: 28), but to serve others, especially the poorest of the poor, the materially poor and the spiritually poor.
Open the doors of your hearts in order that Christ may enter and bring you his joy. The Church needs joyful priests, capable of bringing true joy to God’s people, which is the Good News in all its truth and transforming power.
6. This evening’s reading from Saint Paul is very appropriate for the Seminary community. Why are you here as Seminarians? Why are you here, members of the faculty and others who help to prepare Seminarians for the priesthood? Is it not to "know the mind of the Lord"? The Seminarian must ask himself: Is Christ calling me? Does he wish me to be his priest? If you answer "yes", then the great work of the Seminary is to help you to put off "the natural man", to leave behind "the old man", that is, the unspiritual man who used to be, in order to experience the action of the Holy Spirit and to understand the things of the Spirit of God. You must enter into an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit and with all his gifts, in order that the Lord’s intentions for you may become clear. This is another way of expressing the need for wisdom. Indeed, the Seminary must be a school of wisdom. Here you must live with your patron, Saint Joseph, and with Mary, the Mother of Jesus; and in the silence of this intimacy you will learn that wisdom of which Saint Luke speaks: "Jesus for his part progressed steadily in wisdom and age and grace before God and men" (Lc 2,52).
663 I have to say a word of appreciation to the Rector and his associates for recently incorporating into the Seminary program a full year devoted exclusively to spiritual formation. This will be a precious time for advancing in wisdom and holiness, that wisdom and holiness which are essential for the priesthood.
7. Next year, Saint Joseph’s Seminary will celebrate its Hundredth Anniversary. It is providential that the same year, 1996, will be a year of evangelization in the Church in New York. It helps us remember the countless souls, redeemed by the Blood of Christ, who have been helped toward salvation by the thousands of priests trained in this Seminary. Priests, like the most distinguished alumnus of this Seminary, the humble saintly Cardinal Terence Cooke whose death twelve years ago today we commemorate with prayerful remembrance. You will join them in continuing the work of salvation, which will never end until, as Jesus prayed, all will become one in him as he is one with the Father (cf. Jn. Jn 17,21-23).
I thank Cardinal O’Connor, your Rector Monsignor O’Brien, the Faculty and staff and all who have invited me here for this special privilege of praying with you. Above all, I encourage you, the Seminarians, to be unselfish in answering the call of Christ and in offering your lives to his Church. Do not be afraid! If you begin to lose courage, turn to Mary, Seat of Wisdom; with her at your side, you will never be afraid. Amen.
I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for your warm welcome. I thank all the Priests and Seminarians and all the many people outside. I thank the Pastors, the Parishioners here in Yonkers, who have received me with such enthusiasm – it may be said – and affection. That is true. I bless all of you, and I bless all your religious objects: In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. God love you all!
Central Park, New York
Saturday, 7 October 1995
"Come Holy Spirit..."!
Dear Brothers and Sisters, my friends in Christ,
1. Today’s liturgy is full of references to the Holy Spirit. Even as we pray for the Spirit to come among us, he is already here. He is here in so many of you. He is here above all in the action of the Mass, the most sacred rite of our Faith. You are here, I trust, not out of simple curiosity to see the Pope, but because of the Mass, because the Holy Spirit is leading us all to Christ!
For me it is a great joy to look out at so many wonderful people; and to greet Cardinal O’Connor and all the Cardinals and Bishops of the Province and elsewhere; as well as all the priests, religious and laity of the Archdiocese, the representatives of various religious denominations and the civil authorities of the State and City of New York. My warm and affectionate greetings go to the sick and the handicapped among us. And it is especially wonderful to see so many young people. I can hardly believe we are not back in Denver, which was such an enriching experience. So many thousands of young people astonished everyone with their spirit and their faith. I remember clearly that many people wondered and worried that the young people of America would not come to the World Youth Day, or, if they did come, that they would be a problem. Instead, the young people’s joy, their hunger for the truth, their desire to be united all together in the Body of Christ, made clear to everyone that many, very many young people of America have values and ideals which seldom make the headlines. Is it any wonder that the Pope loves you!
El Papa ama también a los hijos e hijas de la Iglesia de lengua española. Muchos de ustedes han nacido aquí o han vivido mucho tiempo aquí. Otros han llegado más recientemente. Pero todos llevan las huellas de su herencia cultural, profundamente arraigadas en la tradición católica. Conserven vivas esa fe y esa cultura.
664 I know this is not Denver; this is New York! The great New York! This is Central Park. The beautiful surroundings of Central Park invite us to reflect on a more sublime beauty: the beauty of every human being, made in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen. Gn 1,26), and the beauty that is God living in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. At Denver we meditated on this new life: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10,10). In Manila, last January, millions of young people gathered to meditate on how that new life in the Holy Spirit makes us apostles of Christ’s kingdom: "As the Father has sent me, so am I sending you" (Ibid. 20: 21). Now, today, here in Central Park we are continuing the same spiritual pilgrimage, getting ready for the next World Youth Day, in Paris in 1997. I am very grateful for all that is being done in parishes and Dioceses all over the world to bring young people into the spirit of this great spiritual pilgrimage across the world, which started in Rome in 1984, then brought us to Buenos Aires in Argentina, to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, to Jasna Góra and Czestochowa in Poland, to Denver, to Manila, and next to Paris. At the ecumenical level, a similar spiritual pilgrimage is made at Taizé in France. The driving force of all this movement of young people is always the Holy Spirit.
2. The Spirit of God who, we are told in the Book of Genesis, breathed upon the waters at the very beginning of creation (cf. Gen. Gn 1,2), is the same Spirit of life who was breathed into man, so that "man became a living being" (Ibid. 2: 7). This is what makes us different from every other creature. In our bodies we are a mere speck in the vast created universe, but by virtue of our souls we transcend the whole material world. I invite you to reflect on what makes each one of you truly marvellous and unique. Only a human being like you can think and speak and share your thoughts in different languages with other human beings all over the world, and through that language express the beauty of art and poetry and music and literature and the theatre, and so many other uniquely human accomplishments.
And most important of all, only God’s precious human beings are capable of loving. Love makes us seek what is good; love makes us better persons. It is love that prompts men and women to marry and form a family, to have children. It is love that prompts others to embrace the religious life or become priests. Love makes you reach out to others in need, whoever they are, wherever they are. Every genuine human love is a reflection of the Love that is God himself, to the point where the First Letter of Saint John says: "The man without love has known nothing of God; for God is love" (1Jn 4,8).
3. Today is the Feast of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The readings of the Mass introduce us to the first three Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, three fundamental moments of salvation history, three stages along the way of the Holy Spirit’s creative passage through human history: the Annunciation, the Visitation and the Birth of Jesus. In the first reading, Saint Paul writes to the Galatians: "But when the designated time had come, God sent forth his Son born of a woman" (Ga 4,4). In these few words Saint Paul tells us what Saint Luke describes at greater length in the Gospel: the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to a virgin named Mary, in the town of Nazareth in Galilee. He invites her to become the Mother of the Redeemer. The Gospel tells us not only that Mary was surprised and confused by the words of the angel, but that she was afraid. Yes, Mary was afraid, just as we are often afraid! And the angel said, "Do not fear, Mary. For you have found favor with God" (Lc 1,30). It is the power of the Most High that will come upon you, and by the power of the Holy Spirit you will become the Mother of the Son of God (Cf. ibid. 1: 35-37).
If the creative power of God is at work at the moment of conception of every human being, in the Annunciation the Spirit accomplished something incomparably greater. In the womb of the Virgin Mary the Spirit created a man, to be born nine months later in Bethlehem, who, from the first moment of his conception, was the Eternal Son of the Father, the Word through whom all things visible and invisible were made (cf. Jn. Jn 1,3) – Eternal Wisdom, the Archetype of everything that exists in creation.
4. When Mary realized who it was that was calling her, all fear was banished and she replied: "I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say" (Lc 1,38). And at that instant, she became the Mother of the Son of God. This is the extraordinary truth that we meditate on in the first Mystery of the Rosary, the Annunciation.
All this happened so that, as Saint Paul says, we might be redeemed and might receive adoption as God’s sons and daughters (Cf. Ga 4,5). In Christ, the Holy Spirit makes us God’s beloved children. The Incarnation of the Son of God happened once, and is unrepeatable. Divine adoption goes on all the time, through the Church, the Body of Christ, and particularly through the Sacraments, through Baptism, Penance, the Eucharist, and of course the Sacrament of Pentecost that we call Confirmation. And then Saint Paul writes something very striking: the proof that we are God’s children is that he "has sent forth into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, which cries out ‘Abba!’ (‘Father!’)" (Ga 4,6). Abba! Father! This is our prayer every time we say the Our Father. But we have to say it in the Spirit, with a clear awareness that in Christ "we are no longer slaves but children, and therefore heirs with Christ to his kingdom" (Cf. ibid. 4: 7). This new condition of ours as Christians, that is, our transformation through grace and our sharing in divine life itself, will reach its fulfillment in eternity. Then we shall share the happiness with which God himself is happy, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Do you see how important it is to invoke the Holy Spirit and to allow him to work in us? We must remember that the Holy Spirit can do great things for us! And the Holy Spirit does great things for us every day.
5. La próxima etapa del pasaje del Espíritu Santo es el Misterio gozoso de la Visitación. Impulsada por el Espíritu Santo, que destierra su temor, y llena de amor a su prima Isabel, que había concebido un hijo en su vejez, María deja inmediatamente la seguridad de su propio hogar y acude a ayudar a Isabel. Imaginad la sorpresa de María al escuchar a su prima decir: “De dónde a mí que la madre de mi Señor venga a mí? Porque, apenas llegó a mis oídos la voz de tu saludo, saltó de gozo el niño en mi seno” (Lc 1,43-44). Ese niño era Juan el Bautista, el mayor de los Profetas, el que daría testimonio de Jesús al comienzo de su vida pública.
Entonces María pronunció las palabras del “Magnificat”, un hermoso himno de gratitud y alabanza: “Engrandece mi alma al Señor y mi espíritu se alegra en Dios mi salvador” (Ibid. 1: 46-47). A lo largo de los tiempos, la Iglesia repite todos los días el “Magnificat” en lo que llamamos la Liturgia de las Horas. Tal vez las palabras más importantes de ese admirable himno son: “Ha hecho en mi favor maravillas el Poderoso, Santo es su nombre” (Lc 1,49).
6. Like Mary, you must not be afraid to allow the Holy Spirit to help you become intimate friends of Christ. Like Mary, you must put aside any fear, in order to take Christ to the world in whatever you do – in marriage, as single people in the world, as students, as workers, as professional people. Christ wants to go to many places in the world, and to enter many hearts, through you. Just as Mary visited Elizabeth, so you too are called to "visit" the needs of the poor, the hungry, the homeless, those who are alone or ill; for example those suffering from AIDS. You are called to stand up for life! To respect and defend the mystery of life always and everywhere, including the lives of unborn babies, giving real help and encouragement to mothers in difficult situations. You are called to work and pray against abortion, against violence of all kinds, including the violence done against women’s and children’s dignity through pornography. Stand up for the life of the aged and the handicapped, against attempts to promote assisted-suicide and euthanasia! Stand up for marriage and family life! Stand up for purity! Resist the pressures and temptations of a world that too often tries to ignore a most fundamental truth: that every life is a gift from God our Creator, and that we must give an account to God of how we use it either for good or evil.
7. There is yet another stage of the Holy Spirit’s passage through history which we should meditate on: the third Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the birth of the Son of God, announced by Angels to the Shepherds. "You have nothing to fear... This day in David’s City a savior has been born to you... in a manger you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes" (Ibid. 2: 10-12). Saint Luke tells us that the Shepherds said to one another: "Let us go over and see this Child" (Cf. ibid. 2: 15). And they went and found the Child with Mary and Joseph. That is what we too must do! We must go to this Child, this Man, the Son of God, at whatever inconvenience, at whatever risk to ourselves, because to know and love him will truly change our lives.
665 I remember a song I used to sing in Poland as a young man, a song which I still sing as Pope, which tells about the birth of the Savior. On Christmas night, in every church and chapel, this song would ring out, repeating in a musical way the story told in the Gospel. It says: "In the silence of the night, a voice is heard: ‘Get up, shepherds, God is born for you! Hurry to Bethlehem to meet the Lord’ ". The same story is told in the beautiful hymn, "Silent Night", which everyone knows. That is a hymn which moves us deeply by reminding us that Jesus, the Son of God, was born of Mary, born to make us holy and to make us adopted sons and daughters of God. It is a hymn to the creative power of the Holy Spirit. It is a song to help us not to be afraid.
8. If I speak of Christmas, it is because in less than five years we shall reach the end of the Second Millennium, two thousand years since the birth of Christ on that first Christmas night in Bethlehem. We must allow the Holy Spirit to prepare us for this important event, which is another significant stage of his passage through history and of our pilgrimage of faith.
Your Archbishop, Cardinal O’Connor, has given me the welcome news that the Church in New York will begin to prepare for the Millennium by declaring 1996 a Year of Evangelization. What a wonderful beginning, to make a mighty year-long effort to transmit the teaching and the love of Christ to all who will listen, especially to those who, for some reason, may have wandered away or been alienated from the Church. Cardinal O’Connor will need all of you, and especially you young people, to help the Church enter the Third Millennium. You young people will live most of your lives in the next Millennium. You must help the Holy Spirit to shape its social, moral and spiritual character. You must transmit your joy in being adopted sons and daughters of God through the creative power of the Holy Spirit. Do this with the help of Mary, Mother of Jesus. Cling to her Rosary, and you will never wander far from her side.
The Pope is speaking to all of you. Not only to the young people. The Pope asks you to do this. He knows that you will do this, and for this he loves you. Then you can tell the whole world that you gave the Pope his Christmas present in October, in New York, in Central Park. Do not be afraid! The power of the Holy Spirit is with you!
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful!
Enkindle in them the fire of your love!
S. John Paul II Homil. 659