S. John Paul II Homil. 789


Sunday, 26 October 1997

1. "The Lord has done great things for us" (Ps 125,3).

The refrain of the responsorial psalm aptly summarizes the content of the Word of God offered us by today’s liturgy.

As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus did great things for Bartimaeus, the blind man of Jericho, who through his miraculous intervention regained his sight (cf. Mk Mc 10,52). God did great things for the descendants of Jacob, freeing them from slavery in Egypt and bringing them into the promised land. When a new slavery befell the chosen people because of their infidelity, God liberated the people of Israel from exile in Babylon and led them back to the land of their fathers.

790 Referring to the great events of salvation history, the responsorial psalm proclaims: "When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy" (
Ps 125,1-2).

The magnalia Dei of the Old Covenant foreshadow the mystery of the Incarnation, the supreme intervention of God not only for Israel, but for all people. "For God so loved the world", writes St John, "that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3,16). The only-begotten Son of God, one in being with the Father, became man by the work of the Holy Spirit. He assumed our human nature from Mary, the chosen daughter of Zion, and brought about the Redemption of all humanity.

2. "You are a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek" (He 5,6). Jesus is the High Priest of the New and Eternal Covenant. The old priesthood, handed down from the descendants of Aaron, Moses’ brother, gives way to the true and perfect priesthood of Christ. We read in the Letter to the Hebrews: "Every High Priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins" (5:1).

Christ’s entire life has priestly value. However, his priesthood is manifested in the fullness of the paschal mystery. On Golgotha he offers himself to the Father in the one, bloody and perfect sacrifice. Thus he brought to definitive fulfilment the prophecy addressed to Melchizedek: "he did this once for all when he offered up himself" (He 7,27). On the eve of his death, he anticipated the memorial of this sacrifice under the appearances of consecrated bread and wine. His sacrifical act thus became the sacrament of the New Covenant, the Church's Eucharist. Every time we celebrate or participate in Holy Mass, we must gratefully proclaim the words of today’s psalm: "The Lord has done great things for us"!

3. Today let us repeat this song together, dear brothers and sisters of Sts Elizabeth and Zachary Parish!

I came to visit your young community and to celebrate the Lord’s Day with you. I greet you all cordially and I thank you for your warm welcome. In particular, I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishop of this area and your parish priest, Fr Giorgio Cara, who deserves an applause. He has said many good things about you. It is obvious that he loves his people, all the families, the many children you see in the parish; he loves everyone without exception. I also greet the assistant priests who come from Africa, the religious and the laity, young people and adults, who help in the parish’s life. I also extend my affectionate thoughts to the inhabitants of the entire neighbourhood of Prima Porta.

Yours is a recently founded parish: it was established in 1985, even if it began 10 years earlier, when many families from other areas came to settle here. Thanks also to the Sisters of the Immaculate who assisted you until 1993, after a hesitant start your community grew remarkably to the point that it now numbers 9,000 souls. It has gradually been organized and has experienced rapid growth especially in the areas of catechesis and catechist formation, the liturgy and missionary activity, with significant experiences of family prayer groups.

Together with you I give thanks to God for these encouraging fruits, and I sincerely hope that you may soon have the beautiful parish church you long for as the spiritual centre of this constanly growing neighbourhood.

The City Mission, which in Lent 1998 will involve all parishes, will be a further incentive to cultivating your apostolic and missionary zeal. In this regard, I am aware that last summer some young people had a fruitful missionary experience in El Salvador and in NorthEast Brazil. I am pleased, and I hope that the commitment to proclaiming the dead and risen Lord in every milieu will grow in everyone.

4. Dear brothers and sisters, in the context of the City Mission, on Sunday 30 November next I will have the joy of presenting a crucifix and entrusting the missionary mandate to more than 13,000 of the faithful who are preparing for this apostolic endeavour. I will do this, please God, during the Eucharistic celebration opening the second year of immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. For the success of this important ecclesial activity, which involves the entire diocesan community, I count on the generous contribution of everyone, especially your young people, called to be apostles of Christ among their peers. The Pastoral Visit of the Auxiliary Bishops to the communities of young people, which has been going on for the last few weeks, aims precisely at emphasizing the importance of their contribution and witness.

791 Christian families must also be active beside the young people. This is the reason why the Diocese of Rome is dedicating great attention to the pastoral care of the family this year. Unfortunately there are many families in difficulty, but it is comforting to see how in Rome and Italy this institution still has first place in the scale of values. Therefore, the Christian family can and must play an important part in helping families which, for various reasons, are going through difficult times. To carry out this task, it is called to be increasingly aware of its vocation and mission: as the domestic Church, the family is the place from which the Gospel radiates. The family that lives the Gospel, as my venerable Predecessor Pope Paul VI recalled, becomes the evangelizer of many families and of its surroundings. In other words, it becomes authentically missionary (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi EN 71).

Dear young people, dear families, be apostles to this city of ours. Be sowers of Christ’s truth and love by your consistent Gospel witness and your active participation in the City Mission.

5. The responsorial psalm reminds us that "those who sow with tears reap with shouts of joy" (Ps 125,5). The task that Jesus asks of us may seem arduous, but he assures us of his help and support. He is with us and is acting for us.

Sure of his love, we can turn to him with trust. Just as after the planting season the farmer tastes the joy of the harvest, so God will enable us all to return rejoicing, bringing the fruits of our missionary work (cf. Ps Ps 125,6). He is the Father who fills his children with joy.

In seeing the gifts of his grace, we can repeat with a thankful heart: "The Lord has done great things for us". Yes, the Lord never ceases to work wonders for us. Always!

Blessed be his holy name, now and forever. Amen!






Sunday, 9 November 1997

1. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (Jn 2,19).

Christ’s words, proclaimed a few moments ago in the Gospel, bring us to the very heart of the paschal mystery. Having entered the temple in Jerusalem, Christ shows his indignation that his Father’s house has been turned into a huge market. In response to this reaction the Jews protest: "What sign have you to show us for doing this?" (Jn 2,18). Jesus answers them by indicating one very great sign, a definitive sign: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up".

He is not speaking, of course, of the temple in Jerusalem, but of his own body. After being given up to death, on the third day he will reveal the power of the Resurrection. The Evangelist adds: "When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken" (Jn 2,22).

2. On this Sunday the Church in Rome and all Christian people celebrate the feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, considered by very ancient tradition to be the mother of all churches. The liturgy speaks to us of the temple: the temple which is first of all Christ’s body, but which through Christ is also every individual. The Apostle Paul asks: "Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1Co 3,16). This temple is built on the foundation laid by God himself. "No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus" (1Co 3,11). He is the cornerstone of the divine building.

On Christ, the Church’s firm foundation, the three servants of God whom I have the joy today of raising to the glory of the altars built the temple of their lives: Vilmos Apor, Bishop and martyr, John Baptist Scalabrini, Bishop and founder of the Missionaries and Missionary Sisters of St Charles, and María Vicenta of St Dorothy Chávez Orozco, foundress of the Institute of the Servants of the Holy Trinity and the Poor.

792 3. The intimate sharing in the mystery of Christ, the new and perfect Temple in whom full communion between God and man is realized (cf. Jn 2,21), shines forth in the pastoral service of Bl. Vilmos Apor, whose life was crowned with martyrdom. He was the "parish priest of the poor", a ministry which he continued as a Bishop during the dark years of the Second World War, working as a generous benefactor of the needy and the defender of the persecuted. He was not afraid to raise his voice to censure, on the basis of Gospel principles, the injustices and abuses of power towards minorities, especially towards the Jewish community.

In the image of the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep (cf. Jn Jn 10,11), the new blessed lived his fidelity to the paschal mystery, ultimately making the supreme sacrifice of his own life. His murder occurred precisely on Good Friday: he was shot to death while defending his flock. Through his martyrdom he thus experienced his own Passover, passing from the heroic witness of love for Christ and of solidarity with his brothers and sisters to the crown of glory promised to faithful servants. The heroic witness of Bishop Vilmos Apor honours the history of the noble Hungarian nation and is held up today for the admiration of the whole Church. May it encourage believers to follow Christ in their lives without hesitation. This is the holiness to which all the baptized are called!

4. "God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are" (1Co 3,17). The universal call to holiness was constantly felt and personally lived by John Baptist Scalabrini. He loved to say over and over: "Would that I could sanctify myself and all the souls entrusted to me!". Striving for holiness and proposing it to everyone he met was always his first concern.

Deeply in love with God and extraordinarily devoted to the Eucharist, he knew how to translate the contemplation of God and his mystery into intense apostolic and missionary activity, making himself all things to all men in order to proclaim the Gospel. This ardent passion of his for the kingdom of God made him zealous in catechesis, pastoral activities and charitable work, especially for those most in need. Pope Pius IX called him the "Apostle of the Catechism" because of his efforts to promote the systematic teaching of the Church’s doctrine to children and adults in every parish. Out of his love for the poor, particularly for emigrants, he became the apostle of his many compatriots compelled to leave their country, often under difficult conditions and in concrete danger of losing their faith: for them he was a father and sure guide. We can say that Bl. John Baptist Scalabrini intensely lived the paschal mystery, not through martyrdom, but by serving the poor and crucified Christ in the many needy and suffering people whom he loved with the heart of a true Shepherd in solidarity with his flock.

5. A precious temple of the Holy Trinity was the strong and humble soul of the new Mexican blessed, María Vicenta of St Dorothy Chávez Orozco. Impelled by the love of Christ always living and present in his Church, she dedicated herself to his service in the person of the "pobrecitos enfermos", as she called them with maternal affection. Countless difficulties and setbacks forged her energetic character, since God wanted her to be simple, gentle and obedient in order to make her the cornerstone of the Institute of the Servants of the Holy Trinity and the Poor, established by the new blessed in the city of Guadalajara for the care of the sick and the elderly.

A wise and prudent virgin, she built her work on the foundation of the suffering Christ, caring with the balm of charity and the medicine of comfort for the wounded bodies and afflicted souls of Christ’s favourite ones: the destitute, the poor and the needy.

Her shining example, interwoven with prayer, service to neighbour and apostolic work, is continued today in the witness of her daughters and the many good-hearted people who bravely work to bring the Good News of the Gospel to hospitals and clinics.

6. The first reading, taken from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, speaks of the symbol of water. For us, water is associated with the sacrament of Baptism and signifies the rebirth to new life in Christ. Today, as we proclaim Vilmos Apor, John Baptist Scalabrini and María Vicenta of St Dorothy Chávez Orozco blessed, we wish to thank God for the grace of their Baptism and for all that he accomplished in their lives: "... unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn 3,5).

See, these blesseds, reborn by the Holy Spirit, have entered the kingdom of God, and today the Church proclaims it and solemnly confirms it. Built on the foundation which is Christ, the Christian community rejoices over the exaltation of these her children and raises a song of thanksgiving to heaven for the good fruits produced by their total fidelity to God’s will.

Supported by their witness and their intercession, together with the Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles and Martyrs, she looks to the future with confidence and enthusiastically prepares to cross the threshold of the new millennium, proclaiming that Christ is the one Redeemer of humanity: yesterday, today and forever. Amen!




Tuesday, 11 November 1997

793 1. "I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory" (Jn 17,24). With these words Jesus entrusts the Apostles to the Father, as his departure approaches. He is about to leave, while they will remain to continue his saving mission, announcing the Gospel, guarding the deposit of faith and guiding the people of the New Covenant. They will first do this personally and then through the work of their successors, to whom they will pass on their task.

Jesus' thoughts are also extended to these future ministers of salvation at the final hour of his life: the hour of his Passover of Death and Resurrection. "I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am...". The intimate communion of love that unites Christ to the Apostles and to the band of those who will receive their mandate will find its fulfilment when they will be gathered together with him in the Father's presence, to contemplate his glory, that glory that was his since "before the foundation of the world" (cf. ibid.).

2. In the atmosphere so typical of November, marked by the memory of the faithful departed, we are gathered today around the altar to recall the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops who returned to the Father's house during the last year. While we offer the Eucharistic sacrifice in suffrage for them, let us ask the Lord to grant them the heavenly reward promised to good and faithful servants.

In this celebration we wish to remember especially the late and venerable Brother Cardinals Joseph Louis Bernardin, Jean Jérôme Hamer, Narciso Jubany Arnau, Juan Landázuri Ricketts, Mikel Koliqi, Ugo Poletti and Bernard Yago, who entered the Father’s house over the last 12 months.

We extend our affectionate thoughts to the Archbishops and Bishops who in this same period departed from this world. They have fallen asleep in the Lord, trusting in his merciful love, in the well-founded hope of being able to share in the eternal banquet of heaven (cf. Is Is 25,6).

3. When they were here below, these brothers of ours proclaimed and testified to their belief in the Resurrection with their words and their lives. How many times did they have occasion to repeat St Paul's words that were proclaimed a few moments ago: "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1Co 15,20)! Called to be dispensers of divine life in the Church, they rest now in expectation of the final resurrection, when death will be conquered for ever (cf. Is Is 25,8 1Co 15,26) and God will be everything to everyone (cf. 1Co 15,28).

We remember them with affection and gratitude for the generous pastoral service that they gave, sometimes even at the cost of serious hardship and suffering: the entire Christian community benefited from their apostolic labours. At the same time we raise our fervent prayer that the Lord will take them to himself in glory (cf. Jn Jn 17,24). For them and with them we express our desire for the definitive meeting with God: "As the hind longs for the running waters, so my soul longs for you, O God" (Ps 41,2).

4. To Our Lady of Sorrows, whom we contemplate in the traditional image of the Pietà, as she holds in her arms her divine Son who had died and has been taken down from the cross, we now entrust the souls of these our brothers in faith and the priesthood. May they, who during their earthly life loved and venerated Mary with the affection of sons, be brought by her into the Father's eternal kingdom.

With her loving gaze, may Mary watch over them who now sleep the sleep of peace while awaiting the blessed resurrection! We offer our prayer for them to God, sustained by the hope that one day we will all be united forever in paradise.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them. May they rest in peace. Amen!


Sunday, 16 November 1997

794 1. "Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming" (Gospel acclamation; cf. Mt Mt 24,42).

The prayerful vigilance to which today’s liturgy invites us is well suited to the important event we are experiencing: the opening of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, with the theme: "Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ: the Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity in America". This Assembly has gathered the prelates of all the Episcopates of the American continent, from the North to the Centre and the South, including the Caribbean region. I extend my cordial greetings to everyone and a warm welcome to those who have come from overseas.

Today the Word of God offers us a fitting perspective for the work of discernment we are about to undertake: that precisely of a faith-filled look at history, an "eschatological perspective".

This is the way to consider human events that the Lord teaches believers. We have heard a prophecy from the Book of Daniel, received by the prophet himself from the mouth of a heavenly messenger sent to "show [him] the truth" (Da 11,2) about historical events. This prophecy tells of anguish and salvation for the people: how can we fail to recognize it as a prediction of the paschal mystery, the unique focus of history and a key to its authentic interpretation?

The Church prepares for and takes every step of her earthly pilgrimage in the light of the paschal mystery. And today she is celebrating the solemn begining of an exceptional time of reflection and exchange on the mission she is called to carry out on the American continent. God’s word offers her the correct faith vision for reading, as the angel tells Daniel, "what is inscribed in the book of truth" (Da 10,21). With this outlook the Church pauses to consider the road traveled thus far, in order to press onward to the new millennium with renewed missionary zeal.

2. It was only a short while ago, in 1992, that we solemnly recalled the fifth centenary of the evangelization of America. The Synod, which is beginning its work in St Peter’s Basilica today, calls to mind those times when the inhabitants of the so-called "Old World", thanks to Christopher Colombus’ admirable undertaking, learned of the existence of a "New World" previously unknown to them. The colonizers’ work began on that historic day and so did the evangelizers’ mission of making Christ and his Gospel known to the peoples of that continent.

One fruit of this extraordinary missionary effort was the evangelization of America, or more precisely, of the so-called "three Americas", which today can be considered largely Christian. It is also very important, 500 years later and at the threshold of the new millennium, that we remember the road traveled by Christianity in all these lands. Moreover, it is appropriate not to separate the Christian history of North America from that of Central and South America. It is essential to consider them together, even while safeguarding the originality of each one, because, in the eyes of those who arrived there more than 500 years ago, they appeared as a single reality, and especially because the communion between the local communities is a living sign of the inborn unity of the one Church of Jesus Christ, of which they are an organic part.

3. Everyone is aware that on the great American continent the results of the activity of the colonizers are evident today in the political and economic diversity of the continent, with undoubted cultural and religious repercussions. In comparison to other countries, North America has reached a higher level of technological advancement and economic well-being, and in the development of democratic institutions.

Faced with these realities, we cannot but ask about the historical causes which gave rise to such social differences. To what extent are these differences rooted in the history of the last five centuries? To what extent does the heritage of colonization count in them? And what influence did the first evangelization have?

In order to furnish an exhaustive response to these questions, it will be necessary, during the Synod, to consider the continent as a whole, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, without introducing a separation between the North, the Centre and the South, so as not to risk a contrast between them. On the contrary, we must look for the deeper reasons which prompt this unitary vision, by appealing to the common religious and Christian traditions.

These few indications enable us to understand the importance of the Synod we are inaugurating today.

795 4. "Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming".

This exhortation that we have just heard in the Gospel acclamation refers to the spiritual atmosphere we are experiencing as the liturgical year draws to a close. It is an atmosphere interwoven with eschatological themes, highlighted in particular by the passage from St Mark's Gospel in which Christ stresses the transitory nature of heaven and earth: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (
Mc 13,31).

The form of this world is passing away, but the Word of God will never pass away. How eloquent this comparison is! God does not pass away and neither will anything that comes from him. Christ’s sacrifice never passes away, as we read today in the Letter to the Hebrews: Jesus "offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins" (10:12); and: "for by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (10:14).

Throughout this Synod Assembly we will pause to reflect on the past, but especially on the present moment of the American continent. We will attempt to identify in each of its regions the signs of Christ's saving presence, of his Word and of his sacrifice, so that we may revive our energies for the service of conversion and evangelization.

5. How could we not remember here the comforting intentions especially regarding collaboration between pastors in the new evangelization, which became evident at the end of CELAM’s Fourth General Conference in Santo Domingo in 1992? It was then a question of intensifying the missionary apostolate of every community, in order to renew in consciences the commitment to go beyond our frontiers "to bring to other peoples the faith that reached us 500 years ago" (Message, L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 18 November 1992, p. 7).

Let us give thanks to God because today the wish is fulfilled that I expressed at the opening session of that conference. On that occasion, I stressed: "This General Conference could take the opportunity in the not too distant future of holding a meeting for representatives of the Episcopates of the entire American continent — a meeting which could be synodal in nature — for increased cooperation betwen the various particular Churches in the different areas of pastoral activity and at which, in the context of the new evangelization and as an expression of episcopal communion, the problems relating to justice and solidarity among all the nations of America could be faced" (Insegnamenti, vol. XV, 2, 1992; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 21 October 1992, p. 8), Here we are now gathered together with the intention of carrying out these resolutions of pastoral charity, with concern for the Church in America and in a spirit of affective and effective collegiality among all the Pastors of the particular Churches.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, we open the Synod’s work in the context of the imminent conclusion of the liturgical year, with the beginning of Advent close at hand. May this significant coincidence determine the basic direction of our reflections and decisions!

Dear brothers and sisters, this season truly invites us to great watchfulness. We must watch and pray, remembering that one day we will come before the Son of man as Pastors of the Church on the American continent.

We entrust this Synod Assembly to you, Mary, Mother of hope, beloved and venerated in the many shrines across the American continent. Help the Christians of America to be vigilant witnesses of the Gospel, that they may be found watchful and ready on the great and mysterious day when Christ will come as the glorious Lord of the nations to judge the living and the dead.



Sunday, 23 November 1997

796 1. On this Sunday which closes the liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. In the Gospel we listened to Pontius Pilate's question to Jesus: "Are you the King of the Jews?" (Jn 18,33). Jesus replies by asking in turn: "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" (Jn 18,34). And Pilate answers: "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?" (Jn 18,35).

At this point in the dialogue, Christ states: "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world" (Jn 18,36).

Everything is clear and transparent now. Faced with the priests' accusation, Jesus reveals that his is another kind of kingship, a divine and spiritual kingship. Pilate asks for confirmation: "So you are a king?" (Jn 18,37). At this point, excluding every erroneous interpretation of his royal dignity, Jesus indicates his true kingship: "I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice" (Jn 18,37).

He is not a king as the representatives of the Sanhedrin understood it: he does not, in fact, aspire to any political power in Israel. On the contrary, his kingdom goes well beyond the borders of Palestine. Everyone who is of the truth hears his voice (cf. Jn Jn 18,37) and recognizes him as king. This is the universal scope of Christ's kingdom and its spiritual dimension.

2. "Bear witness to the truth" (Jn 18,37). The reading from the Book of Revelation says that Jesus Christ is "the faithful witness" (1:5). He is the faithful witness because he reveals the mystery of God and announces his kingdom, which is now present. He is the first Servant of this kingdom. By becoming "obedient unto death, even death on the cross" (Ph 2,8), he will witness to the Father's power over creation and over the world. And the place for exercising his kingship is the Cross he embraces on Golgotha. His was a shameful death, but it represents a confirmation of the Gospel proclamation of the kingdom of God. In the eyes of his enemies, that death should have been proof that all he had said and done was false: "He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him" (Mt 27,42). He did not come down from the cross but, like the Good Shepherd, he gave his life for his sheep (cf. Jn Jn 10,11). The confirmation of his royal power, however, came a little later when on the third day he rose from the dead, revealing himself as "the first-born of the dead" (Ap 1,5).

He, the obedient Servant, is King because he has "the keys of death and Hades" (Ap 1,18). And, because he is the conqueror of death, hell and Satan, he is "the ruler of kings on earth" (Ap 1,5). In fact, everything on earth is subject to death. Instead, he who has power over death opens the prospect of immortal life to all humanity. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the fulfilment of all creation (cf. Rv Ap 1,8), so that every generation can repeat: Blessed is his kingdom that is coming (cf. Mc 11,10).

3. Dear brothers and sisters of Holy Trinity Parish in Castel di Lunghezza, I am pleased to be here with you today to celebrate the Eucharist on the Solemnity of Christ the King.

I affectionately greet everyone here, with a cordial thought for the Cardinal Vicar, for the Vicegerent and for your parish priest, Fr Bruno Sarto. I also greet the Monfort Missionaries with their seminarians, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux and all those who, in various ways, help with the guidance and pastoral service of your community. Lastly, I greet all of you, dear parishioners, extending a particularly affectionate word to the elderly, the sick and those who are alone.

I wish to assure all the inhabitants of this area, located on the edge of the municipality of Rome, that, even if they are physically distant from the Pope's house, you are always close to me. Your suburb, which arose like so many others without precise planning, unfortunately still lacks many structures and especially social services for the elderly, young people and children. Here again the parish is the sole centre for coming together and it makes an essential contribution to the social life of the entire neighbourhood. I therefore encourage the Diocese of Rome to continue in its praiseworthy effort to provide suitable parish structures in those areas where not only places of worship, but the other services also are lacking. In this regard, I wish to take this occasion to urge you and all Roman citizens to generously support the project "50 Churches for Rome 2000", which is meant to provide every district of Rome with a church.

4. I am aware that in this area the spiritual children of St Vincent de Paul have carried out a laudable work of evangelization, especially through popular missions. To them go my appreciation and my heartfelt acknowledgement of their generous pastoral zeal. These missions are still needed today not only in the Roman countryside but throughout the city of Rome. They must be organized in a renewed form, which expresses the real situation of the People of God as a "people-in-mission". This is precisely what the Diocese is endeavouring to accomplish with the City Mission.

Next Sunday, as I open the year dedicated to the Holy Spirit in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I will give crosses to the men and women missionaries who in the coming months will visit families and proclaim the Gospel in the homes of this and of every Roman parish.

797 Dear catechists, dear members of the parish council, dear members of the various groups, I wish to extend a special invitation to each of you: generously continue your work of evangelization, even if at times it may be difficult and unrewarding for you! The Lord is with you and he will never abandon his Church.

I urge you, dear families, not to be afraid to live a demanding love that is marked, as the Apostle Paul writes, by patience, kindness and hope (cf.
1Co 13,4).

To you, dear young people, I wish to repeat that the Church needs you, and I would like to add: you need the Church, because the Church desires only that you meet Jesus, the One who makes man free to love and serve.

The Church needs you because, after having experienced the true freedom that Christ alone can offer you, you will be able to witness to the Gospel among your peers, with courage, with great creativity, using the sensitivity and talents characteristic of your youth. May the Youth Mission, within the great City Mission, foster this reconciliation between young people and Christ, between young people and the Church!

5. Dear brothers and sisters, today’s liturgy reminds us that the truth about Christ the King is the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. The prophet Daniel announces the coming of the Son of man, who has been given "dominion and glory and kingdom". He comes served by "peoples, nations and languages" and his "dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed" (cf. Dn Da 7,14). We know well that all this was perfectly fulfilled in Christ, in his Passover of Death and Resurrection.

The Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, invites us to repeat with faith the prayer of the Our Father, which Jesus himself taught us: "Thy kingdom come".

Thy kingdom come, O Lord! — "A kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace" (Preface).


S. John Paul II Homil. 789