S. John Paul II Homil. 766


Vatican Gardens

Sunday, 15 June 1997

1. "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground" (Mc 4,26). The name seminary refers to these words of Christ. The Latin word seminarium comes from semen, seed. Jesus says that the seed scattered upon the ground will sprout and grow whether man watches or sleeps: it sprouts and grows by night and day. "The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear" (Mc 4,28).

The analogy with the priestly vocation is self-evident. It is like God’s seed, scattered in human souls, which grows with its own force. But the seed, in order to grow, must be cared for. It is man who must sow; and it is man again who must watch over the seed’s growth. It is necessary to prevent harmful forces, evil persons or natural disasters from destroying the tender shoots that are growing. And when they have reached maturity, man must put his hand to the sickle, as Christ says, because the field is ready for the harvest (cf. Mk Mc 4,29).

On another occasion Jesus observes: "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest" (Mt 9,37-38). These words also refer to the seminary, the place where labourers are trained for the great harvest of God’s kingdom, which extends to all countries and continents. It is good that today, at the end of the seminary’s academic year, we listen once again to Christ’s parable.

2. The Gospel which has just been proclaimed contains another comparison, important for you who have come to the end of the year's work at the seminary. Christ asks: "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?" (Mk4:30). And he answers: "It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade" (Mc 4,31-32). These words refer to the Book of Ezekiel, from which the first reading is taken. The two texts speak of the same thing: the growth of God’s kingdom in the history of the world. According to another analogy, they also speak of the growth of a priestly vocation in every young soul. This is precisely the seminary’s task. At the end of the seminary year, we have the opportunity to look at the great work carried out during these months by the Holy Spirit in the soul of each one who has been called. Many, starting with those concerned, have cooperated with the Spirit, so that the divine seed of their vocation might mature, encouraging the growth of God’s kingdom in the world. It is in this way that the Church grows in the world, like the great tree in the parable whose branches give shelter to the birds of the air and to the man who is tired.

This parable urges us to consider the annual work of the Roman Seminary in the missionary perspective of the growth of that divine tree which develops and gradually expands until it embraces all the countries of the world. Rome’s seminary has a very significant role from this point of view. Is not Rome, the see of Peter’s Successor, the driving force of missionary activity in every part of the world?

3. St Paul too, in the passage from the Letter to the Corinthians just proclaimed, offers us the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the question of priestly formation. The Apostle writes: "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2Co 5,7). And he adds: "We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2Co 5,8). What else is seminary formation, the instruction and education received there, if not an introduction to the theological virtues which are the foundation of Christian life and, in particular, of priestly life? The greatest of these is love (cf. 1Co 13,13). Might not the Apostle be referring to love when he says: "So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him" (2Co 5,9)?

767 At the end of the academic year, the Apostle seems to be asking each of you this question, dear young men: how has this year served the growth of your faith, hope and love? How has it deepened the gifts of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and the fear of God? How deeply is this divine organism rooted in our spiritual organism, in the cognitive forces of our intellect and in the aspirations of our will? "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body" (2Co 5,10). The daily and yearly examination of conscience must be made in this eschatological perspective. We must ask forgiveness for all our acts of negligence, but above all we must give thanks. Today’s liturgy also invites us to do this with the words of the Psalm: "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High" (Ps 92 [91]:1). To sing and give thanks for what, with God’s grace and our co-operation, has become the fruit of this seminary year.

Today we meet on the Vatican Hill, at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. May the words of the Psalm re-echo in our spirit:

"The righteous flourish like the palm tree,
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord,
they flourish in the courts of our God" (Ps 92 [91]:12-14).

May these verses help us meditate on our vocation to the service of the Gospel.

May we be accompanied and sustained in the daily task of building God’s kingdom by the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, and by all the saints and blesseds of the Church which is in Rome, the shining examples who have preceded us on the way of faithfully following Christ.



Sunday, 22 June 1997

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have gathered here this morning like his disciples, to meet the risen Lord who calls us to strengthen our faith with his Word, to share the bread of the Eucharist and to build up the Church with the bonds of fraternal love that give life to the Christian community.

768 Today his Word questions our faith, which sometimes falters, causing us unfounded fears: “Why are you afraid?” he asks, “Have you no faith?” (Mc 4,40). There are many fears that torment us and can induce us to cowardice or discouragement: fear of the seeming silence of God, fear of the great world powers that claim to compete with God’s omnipotence and providence, and lastly, fear of a culture that seems to marginalize the religious and Christian meaning of life by depriving it of social significance.

The Gospel scene of the boat threatened by the waves, calls to mind the image of the Church plying the seas of history, on her way to the fulfilment of God’s kingdom. Jesus, who promised to remain with his own until the end of time (cf. Mt Mt 28,20), will not leave the ship to drift. In times of hardship and trouble, she continues to hear his voice: “Courage! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16,33). It is a call to strengthen continually her faith in Christ, and not to give in to difficulties. In moments of trial, when the “dark night” seems to obscure her way or when the storm of difficulties worsens, the Church knows she is in good hands.

The words we have heard in the second reading also urge us to trust in the Lord’s presence and to renew our life as true believers: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2Co 5,17). In the newness of life, a gift of our Lord to all who are baptized, there is no room for uncertainty and hesitation. Trust and peace are the sign of deep communion with Jesus Christ, who died “for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2Co 5,15).

As I cordially greet everyone here, especially the students of the Pontifical Spanish and Pontifical Mexican Colleges in Rome who, with this celebration, have wished to reaffirm their adherence to the Successor of Peter, I invite all to feel the joy of the Lord’s presence in this Eucharist that we are celebrating in the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, as if desiring Mary's protection in the meeting with her divine Son. May she accompany and sustain us with her motherly intercession on our journey of faith, helping us to gain an ever deeper understanding of the mystery of Christ’s person and to taste that inner peace which comes from the firm conviction of his presence among us. Amen.


Sunday, 29 June 1997

1. “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church” (Mt 16,18).

On today’s Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, the Liturgy of the Word presents two elements which seem to contradict one another but are actually complementary. On the one hand, we have the extraordinary vocation of the Apostles Peter and Paul and, on the other, the difficulties they had to face in fulfilling the mission they received from the Lord.

In the Gospel passage Jesus says to Simon Peter near Caesarea Philippi: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16,19). Thus Christ foretold the institution of the Church and founded her on Peter's ministry, which consequently has an essential and enduring significance for her.

When Jesus asked who people thought the Son of God was, the Apostles reported several of the opinions current among the Jews. But when he asked them directly: “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16,15), Peter replied in the name of the Twelve: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16,16).

Peter made his profession of faith in Christ and this faith constitutes the firm foundation of the People of the New Covenant. The Church is not primarily a social structure; she is the community of those who share the same faith as Peter and the Apostles: the community of those who proclaim the one apostolic faith. This common profession of faith is the real raison d’être of the Church herself as a visible institution: it motivates and sustains every project and initiative.

2. Let us listen once again to these words of Jesus on the day when we recall with veneration the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. The Fathers loved to compare them to two pillars supporting the Church as a visible construction. According to ancient tradition, the liturgy celebrates them together, commemorating their glorious martyrdom on the same day: Peter, whose tomb is on this Vatican Hill, and Paul, whose tomb is venerated in the vicinity of the Ostian Way. They both sealed with their blood the witness they bore to Christ by their preaching and ecclesial ministry.

769 Today’s liturgy clearly emphasizes this witness and gives us a glimpse of the profound reason why it was necessary for the faith professed by the lips of the two Apostles to be also crowned with the supreme test of martyrdom.

3. This reason can be seen in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles proclaimed just now, as well as in the responsorial Psalm and the text from the Letter to Timothy, and it is presented to us in summary form in the response of the responsorial Psalm: “The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him” (
Ps 34 [33]:7).

The first reading recalls Peter’s miraculous release from the prison in Jerusalem, where he had been held by King Herod. In the second reading, Paul, as if summarizing his entire apostolic and missionary activity, says: “I was rescued from the lion’s mouth” (2Tm 4,17). Both testimonies show, in a certain sense, the common journey travelled by the two Apostles. Both were sent by Christ to proclaim the Gospel in an environment hostile to the work of salvation. Peter had already experienced this resistance in Jerusalem, where Herod, to win the favour of the Jews, had thrown him into prison, intending “to bring him out to the people” (Ac 12,4). But he was miraculously saved from Herod’s hands, and thus he could complete his evangelizing mission, first in Jerusalem and later in Rome, putting all his energy at the service of the newborn Church.

Paul too, sent by the risen Christ to many pagan cities and peoples in the Roman Empire, encountered strong resistance from his compatriots and from the civil authorities. His Letters are a splendid testimony to these difficulties and to the great struggle he had to endure for the Gospel cause.

At the end of his mission, he could write: “My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith” (2Tm 4,6-7).

Peter and Paul, each with his own personal and ecclesial experience, testify that the Lord never abandoned them, even amid the harshest trials. He was with Peter to deliver him from the hands of his opponents in Jerusalem; he was with Paul in his constant apostolic labours to communicate to him the strength of his grace, to make him a fearless proclaimer of the Gospel for the benefit of the nations (cf. 2Tm 4,17).

4. The Church is called to deepen her own link with the witness of the Apostles Peter and Paul. In celebrating today’s liturgical solemnity, the Christian communities of the whole world strengthen their bonds of unity based on profession of the same faith in Christ and on fraternal charity. The rite for the conferral of the sacred pallium on the new Metropolitan Archbishops from various countries by the Successor of Peter is an eloquent sign of this ecclesial communion.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate! I am pleased to welcome you to this solemn celebration, during which you will receive the pallium as a sign of unity with the See of Peter and of sharing in the mission, entrusted by Christ to the Apostles and to their successors, of proclaiming the Gospel to all peoples. Together with you, I would like to greet and affectionately embrace the ecclesial communities entrusted to your care, asking the Lord for an abundance of the Spirit's gifts for your faithful.

5. If the witness of faith and the arduous struggle which the Apostles Peter and Paul had to undertake for the cause of the Gospel are considered in merely human terms, they ended in defeat. In this too they faithfully followed Christ’s example. Indeed, humanly speaking the mission of Christ, who was condemned to death and crucified, ended in defeat.

However, both the Apostles, with their gaze fixed on the paschal mystery, did not doubt that precisely what to the eyes of the world seemed a defeat, was in fact the beginning of the fulfilment of God’s plan. It was the victory over the forces of evil won first by Christ and then by his disciples through faith. The entire community of believers relies on the firm foundation of the apostolic faith and gives thanks to Christ for the solid rock on which its life and mission are built.

May the Lord, who today gladdens us with the glorious memory of the Apostles Peter and Paul, enable us to listen to their teaching with a docile heart, preserve it with devotion and transmit it with fidelity, so that the Gospel message may reach to the ends of the earth.




Friday, 15 August 1997

1. "The Queen stands at your right hand" (responsorial psalm).

Today’s liturgy sets before us the radiant icon of the Blessed Virgin who was taken up into heaven in the integrity of her body and soul. In the splendour of heavenly glory shines the One who, by reason of her humility, was made great in the sight of the Most High to the point that all generations call her blessed (cf. Lk
Lc 1,48). Now, as Queen, she sits beside her Son in the eternal happiness of paradise and looks upon her children from on high.

With this consoling certainty, we turn to her and call on her for those who are her children: for the Church and for all humanity, so that everyone, by imitating her faithful following of Christ, may reach the definitive homeland of heaven.

2. "The Queen stands at your right hand".

The first among those redeemed by Christ’s paschal sacrifice, Mary shines forth today as Queen of us all, pilgrims on our way to immortal life.

In her, assumed into heaven, we are shown the eternal destiny that awaits us beyond the mystery of death: a destiny of total happiness in divine glory. This supernatural vision sustains our daily pilgrimage. Mary teaches about life. By looking at her, we understand better the relative value of earthly greatness and the full sense of our Christian vocation.

From her birth to her glorious Assumption, her life unfolded on a journey of faith, hope and charity. These virtues, which blossomed in a humble heart abandoned to God’s will, are those adorning her precious, incorruptible crown as Queen. These are virtues which the Lord asks of all believers, if they are to share in his Mother’s glory.

The passage from Revelation just proclaimed speaks of the enormous red dragon that represents the perennial temptation facing man: to prefer evil to good, death to life, the easy pleasure of disengagement to the demanding but rewarding journey of holiness for which everyone has been created. In the fight against "the great dragon ... that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world" (Ap 12,9), there appears the great sign of the victorious Virgin, Queen of glory, seated at the Lord’s right hand.

And in this spiritual battle her help to the Church is decisive for attaining the ultimate victory over evil.

3. "The Queen stands at your right hand".

771 Mary shines on earth "until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God" (Lumen gentium LG 68). A caring mother to everyone, she supports the efforts of believers and encourages them to persevere in their commitment. Here I am thinking most particularly of young people, who are more exposed to the attractions and temptations of fleeting myths and false teachers.

Dear young people, look to Mary and call upon her with trust! The World Youth Day which will begin in Paris in a few days’ time will give you the opportunity to experience once again her motherly concern. May Mary help you to feel that you are an integral part of the Church and spur you not to be afraid of assuming your responsibilities as credible witnesses to God’s love.

Today, Mary assumed into heaven shows you where love and complete fidelity to Christ on earth lead: to the eternal joy of heaven.

4. Mary, Woman clothed with the sun, help us to fix our gaze on Christ amid the inevitable sufferings and problems of everyday life.

Help us not to be afraid of following him to the very end, even when the cross seems unbearably heavy. Make us understand that this alone is the way which leads to the heights of eternal salvation.

And from heaven, where you shine forth as Queen and Mother of mercy, watch over each one of your children.

Guide them to love, adore and serve Jesus, the blessed fruit of your womb, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!





(AUGUST 21-24, 1997)


Notre-Dame de Paris

Friday, 22 August 1997

1. "Love is of God" (1Jn 4,7). Today's Gospel presents us with the figure of the Good Samaritan. In this parable, Christ wants to show his listeners who is the neighbour mentioned in the great commandment of the divine Law: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself" (Lc 10,27). A doctor of the Law was asking what he should do to have eternal life: he found in these words the decisive answer. He knew that love of God and neighbour is the first and greatest of the commandments. Despite this, he asks "And who is my neighbour?" (Lc 10,29).

772 The fact that Jesus proposes a Samaritan as an example to answer this question is significant. In effect, the Samaritans were not particularly esteemed by the Jews. Moreover, Christ compares the conduct of this man to that of a priest and a Levite who see the man wounded by brigands, lying half dead on the road, and pass by without giving him any help. On the contrary, the Samaritan, who sees the suffering man, "had compassion" (Lc 10,33). His compassion brings him to perform a whole series of actions. First he bandaged his wounds, then he took the wounded man to an inn to care for him and, before leaving, he give the inn keeper the necessary money to take care of him (cf. Lk Lc 10,34-35). This example is eloquent. The doctor of the Law received a clear answer to his question: Who is my neighbour? The neighbour is every human being without exception. It is not necessary to ask his nationality, or to which social or religious group he belongs. If he is in need, he must be helped. This is what is required by the first and greatest divine Law, the law of love of God and neighbour.

Faithful to this commandment of the Lord, Frédéric Ozanam believed in love, the love of God for every individual. He felt himself called to love, giving the example of a great love for God and others. He went to all those who needed to be loved more than others, those to whom the love of God could not be revealed effectively except through the love of another person. There Ozanam discovered his vocation, the path to which Christ called him. He found his road to sanctity. And he followed it with determination.

2. "Love is of God". Love of man has its origin in the Law of God: our first reading from the Old Testament shows this. We find there a detailed description of the actions involved in loving our neighbour. It is like a biblical preparation for the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The second reading, taken from the First Letter of Saint John, explains the meaning of the words "Love is of God". The Apostle writes to his disciples: "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love." (1Jn 4,7-8). This saying of the Apostle is really at the centre of the New Covenant, the apex towards which all that is written in the Gospels and the Apostolic Letters leads us. Saint John continues: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins" (ibid., 10). The remission of sins is a sign of the love which the Son of God made man has brought us. Then, love of neighbour, love of every human being, is not only a commandment. It is a demand which is consequent on the living experience of God's love. That is why John can write: "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1Jn 4,11).

The teaching of the Letter of John continues as the Apostle writes: "No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit" (1Jn 4,12-13). Love, then, is the source of knowledge. If, on the one hand, knowledge is a condition of love, on the other, love makes our knowledge grow. If we remain in love, we intimately experience the action of the Holy Spirit who enables us to participate in the redeeming love of the Son whom the Father has sent to save the world. By knowing Christ as the Son of God, we remain in him and, through him, we remain in God. Through the merits of Christ we believe in love, we know the love that God has for us, we know that God is love (cf. 1Jn 4,16). This knowledge through love is in some way the keystone of the whole spiritual life of the Christian. "He who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (ibid.).

3. In the context of the World Youth Day this year in Paris, I am about to beatify Frédéric Ozanam. I cordially greet Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, the city which houses the tomb of the new Blessed. I rejoice also in the presence at this event of Bishops from many countries. I affectionately greet the members of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society who have come from across the world for the beatification of their principal founder, as well as those representing the great spiritual family of Saint Vincent. The connection with the Vincentians was close from the beginning of the Society, since it was a Daughter of Charity, Sr. Rosalie Rendu, who guided the young Frédéric Ozanam and his companions to the poor of the Mouffetard neighborhood of Paris. Dear disciples of Saint Vincent de Paul, I encourage you to join forces so that the poor, as he who inspired you always wished, may be loved and better served, and that Jesus Christ be honoured in their person.

4. Frédéric Ozanam loved everyone who was deprived. From his youth, he became aware that it was not enough to speak about charity and the mission of the Church in the world: rather what was needed was an effective commitment of Christians in the service of the poor. He had the same intuition as Saint Vincent: "Let us love God, my brothers, let us love God, but let it be through the work of our hands, let it be by the sweat of our brow" (Saint Vincent de Paul, XI, 40). In order to show this concretely, at age twenty, with a group of friends, he created the Conferences of Saint Vincent de Paul which aimed at helping the very poor, in a spirit of service and sharing. These Conferences rapidly spread beyond France to all the European countries and to the world. I myself as a student before the Second World War was a member of one of them.

From then on, the love of those in extreme need, of those with no one to care for them, became the centre of Frédéric Ozanam's life and concerns. Speaking of these men and women, he writes "We must fall at their feet and say to them, like the Apostle: 'Tu es Dominus meus'. You are our masters and we are your servants; you are for us the sacred images of the God whom we do not see and, not knowing how to love him in another way, we love him through you" (To Louis Janmot).

5. He observed the real situation of the poor and sought to be more and more effective in helping them in their human development. He understood that charity must lead to efforts to remedy injustice. Charity and justice go together. He had the clear-sighted courage to seek a front-line social and political commitment in a troubled time in the life of his country, for no society can accept indigence as if it were a simple fatality without damaging its honour. So it is that we can see in him a precursor of the social doctrine of the Church which Pope Leo XXIII would develop some years later in the Encyclical Rerum Novarum.

Faced with all the forms of poverty which overwhelm so many men and women, charity is a prophetic sign of the commitment of the Christian in the following of Christ. I invite the laity, and in particular young people, to show courage and imagination in working to build a more fraternal society, where the less fortunate will be esteemed in all their dignity and will have the means to live in respect. With the humility and limitless confidence in Providence which characterized Frédéric Ozanam, have the boldness to share your material and spiritual possessions with those who are in difficulty!

6. Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, apostle of charity, exemplary spouse and father, grand figure of the Catholic laity of the nineteenth century, was a university student who played an important role in the intellectual movement of his time. A student, and then an eminent professor at Lyon and later at Paris, at the Sorbonne, he aimed above all at seeking and communicating the truth in serenity and respect for the convictions of those who did not share his own. "Learn to defend your convictions without hating your adversaries, " — he wrote — "to love those who think differently than yourselves, . . . let us complain less about our times and more about ourselves" (Letters, 9 April 1851). With the courage of a believer, denouncing all selfishness, he participated actively in the renewal of the presence and action of the Church in the society of his time. His role in starting the Lenten Conferences in this Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Paris is well-known, with the goal of permitting young people to receive an updated religious instruction regarding the great questions confronting their faith. A man of thought and action, Frédéric Ozanam remains for today's university community, professors as well as students, a model of courageous commitment, capable of making heard a free and demanding voice in the search for the truth and the defense of the dignity of every human person. May he also be for them an invitation to holiness!

773 7. Today the Church confirms the kind of Christian life which Ozanam chose, as well as the path which he undertook. She tells him: Frédéric, your path has truly been the path of holiness. More than one hundred years have passed and this is the opportune moment to rediscover that path. It is necessary that all these young people, nearly your own age, who have gathered together in such numbers here in Paris from all the countries of Europe and the world, should recognize that this path is also theirs. They must understand that, if they want to be authentic Christians, they must take the same road. May they open wider the eyes of the spirit to the needs of so many people today. May they see these needs as challenges. May Christ call them, each one by name, so that each one may say: this is my path! In the choices that they will make, your holiness, Frédéric, will be particularly confirmed. And your joy will be great. You who already see with your eyes the One who is love, be a guide for all these young people on the paths that they will choose, in following your example today!





(AUGUST 21-24, 1997)


Saint-Étienne du Mont

Saturday, 23 August 1997

1. "May all peoples know you, Lord!" These words of today's liturgy are addressed to all of you, representing the nations taking part in the World Youth Day in Paris. Your presence here bears witness to the success of the mission which the Apostles received from Christ after his resurrection: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28,19). You are the representatives of the peoples to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have accepted it, of the peoples whose cultures the Gospel has penetrated and transfigured.

You are here not only because you have received the faith and Baptism, but also because you want to transmit this faith to others. So many hearts await the Gospel! The cry of today's liturgy can find all its meaning on your lips: "May all the nations know you, Lord!"

2. The World Youth Day clearly has a missionary dimension. Today's liturgy indicates as much. The first reading from the Book of Isaiah says: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ?Your God reigns'" (52:7). The prophet is certainly thinking of the messiah awaited at that time. This will be Christ the Messiah, who will announce the Good News. Indeed, he will transmit this Good News to the Apostles. By sharing in his prophetic, priestly, and royal mission, they, and in turn all the People of God of the New Covenant, will become messengers of Good News to the whole world. The words of the prophet apply to them: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings".

These words apply to you who are gathered here, you who participate in the World Youth Day from all the nations under the sun. Your coming together is like a new Pentecost. And so it should be! Like the Apostles in the Upper Room, and beyond what our senses perceive, we must hear the sound, the irruption of a violent wind. May the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit come to rest over the heads of all those who are here, and may all begin to proclaim in different languages the marvels of God (cf. Acts Ac 2,1-4). Then you will be witnesses to the Good News in the Third Millennium.

3. The reading of the Gospel of Saint Matthew makes us think back to the parable of the sower. We know the parable, but we can re-read the words of the Gospel over and over again and still find new light. So the sower comes out to sow. As he sows, some seeds fall on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, some finally on good soil, and only these last gave fruit (cf. Mt Mt 13,3-8).

Jesus did not limit himself to presenting us with a parable, he explained it. Let us hear then the explanation of the parable of the sower. The seeds that fell on the path represent those who hear the word of the Kingdom of God but do not understand it. The Evil One comes and takes away what has been sown in their hearts (cf. Mt Mt 13,19). The Evil One often uses this tactic and he tries to prevent the seed from germinating in people's hearts. This is the first comparison. The second is the seed fallen on rocky ground. This ground represents the people who hear the word and welcome it immediately with joy, but they do not have roots in them and are inconstant. When tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they fall away immediately (cf. Mt Mt 13,20-21). What psychological insight in this comparison made by Christ! We know well from our experience and the experience of others the inconstancy of people deprived of the roots which would enable the word to grow! The third case is the seed fallen among thorns. Christ explains that he is thinking of those who hear the word but who, because of the worries of the world and their attachment to riches, stifle the word so that it does not bear fruit (cf. Mt Mt 13,22).

Finally, the seed fallen on fertile ground represents those who hear the word and understand it, and the word bears fruit in them (cf. Mt Mt 13,23). All of this magnificent parable speaks to us today as it spoke to the listeners of Jesus two thousand years ago. In the course of this world meeting of youth, let us become the fertile ground which receives the Gospel and bears fruit!

S. John Paul II Homil. 766