S. John Paul II Homil. 916




Friday, 23 October 1998

1. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein; for he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers” (
Ps 24 [23]:1-2).

The psalmist’s words, which resound in today’s liturgy, recall God's lordship over the world. He created it and entrusted it to man as a task: a task that concerns both the field of knowledge and of action. In this sense, the world is man’s vocation.

The Apostle Paul urges the Ephesians to conduct themselves in a way worthy of the calling they have received (cf. Eph Ep 4,1). He speaks of the Christian vocation, which requires the baptized to follow Christ and to be conformed to him. But we can also understand the expression in a broader sense, in which the world itself in a way can be a calling for the human person, a calling which man has always tried to answer. Hence learning arose, that vast store of knowledge which is the fruit of wonder, insight, hypothesis and experience. Thus, down the centuries and generations, mankind's patrimony of learning takes form in the various periods of history.

2. All of us gathered here are heirs to this progressive growth of knowledge, developed by preceding generations. Particularly you, dear rectors, teachers and students of the Roman ecclesiastical universities, with your scholarly commitment you have joined this journey of research into the various theological, philosophical, humanistic, historical and juridical disciplines. I extend my cordial greetings to you all. With gratitude I greet Cardinal Pio Laghi, who is presiding at today’s celebration, and with him the Grand Chancellors of the pontifical universities. It is important to start a new academic year with the awareness that we have received the treasure of culture as a legacy from those who have gone before us, and at the same time, as a task for our own creative knowledge and action.

Through knowledge man, in accordance with his particular nature, reaches out to the created world and relates it to himself. However, the world does not exhaust man’s vocation.

3. The psalmist speaks of “ascending the mountain of the Lord”:

“Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? Or who may stand in his holy place?” (Ps 24 [23]:3).

In this image we find the full truth about man: created in the world and for the world, at the same time he is called to ascend to God.

By creating the human being in his own image and likeness, God called him to seek his “Prototype”, the One he resembles more than any creature and in knowing whom he also knows himself. From this stems all man’s metaphysical yearning. This makes him open to God’s word, inclined to seek the One who is invisible and at the same time is the fullness of reality.

4. The psalmist continues: “He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain, nor swears deceitfully to his neighbour. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord.... Such is the race that seeks for him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob” (Ps 24 [23]:4, 6).

918 As I repeat these words, my thoughts turn immediately to you, dear students, gathered in large numbers at this by now traditional celebration: priests, consecrated persons and lay people. By studying the various disciplines, you are called to seek the Lord’s “face”, that is, the revelation of his mystery, just as Jesus Christ fulfilled it in a complete and definitive way.

“No one knows ... who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him”, as we have just heard in the Gospel of Luke (10:22). The mediation of Christ is absolutely essential for knowing the true face of God. His mediation concerns both reason and the “heart” inseparably, the order of knowledge and that of intention and behaviour. “He who does not love”, the Apostle John observes, “does not know God; for God is love” (
1Jn 4,8). “He who says ‘I know him’ but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1Jn 2,4).

5. The message in the biblical readings for this celebration belongs precisely to the level of the “heart”. They recall that the Lord’s face is sought and found in love (first reading) and in simplicity (Gospel).

Writing to the Ephesians, the Apostle forcefully recalls the primacy of love at the service of unity, which has its foundation in the Triune God: “one Spirit ... one Lord ... one God and Father” (Ep 4,4-6).

Each individual is endowed with gifts for building up the community; learning is also a precious gift, especially when it is profound and systematic. To bear fruit that benefits those who possess it and their brethren, it also needs to be enriched with love, without which the possession of all knowledge is useless (cf. 1Co 13,2).

Love should be accompanied by simplicity of heart, which belongs to those whom the Gospel, echoing the Lord Jesus’ words, calls “children”. “I offer you praise, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children” (Lc 10,21). This marvellous blessing, which springs from Christ’s heart, reminds us that genuine intellectual maturity always goes hand in hand with simplicity. The latter does not consist in a superficiality of life and thought nor in denial of the problematic nature of reality, but rather in knowing how to go to the heart of every question and to discover its essential meaning and relationship to the whole. Simplicity is wisdom.

6. Dear brothers and sisters who comprise the great ecclesiastical academic community of Rome, I hope that the year which has just begun will help you grow in knowledge of the truth, which is the vocation and destiny of every human being. In the words of my recent Encyclical Fides et ratio, I hope that “those who love [true wisdom] may take the sure path leading to it and so find rest from their labours and joy for their spirit” (n. 6).

Realize that time devoted to study is not taken away from mission but is for mission. Last Sunday we celebrated World Mission Day. I would like to recall that the City Mission of the Diocese of Rome will take place next year, particularly in the various walks of life and, therefore, also in the universities. The ecclesiastical universities are special places of witness in the form of cultural mediation and of preparing those who are called to scatter the good seed of Gospel truth in the vast field of the Church.

May each of you seek, find and contemplate the face of the Lord in order to be an effective reflection of his light which fills human life with meaning.

May Mary, the shining torch of love and seat of wisdom, intercede for you and accompany you in this quest.





Sunday, 25 October 1998

919 1. “The lowly will hear me and be glad” (Ps 33 [34]:3).

With these words today’s liturgy invites us to rejoice as we give thanks to the Lord for the gift of these new blesseds. The Church’s joy is expressed in the song of praise that the assembly lifts to heaven. Yes, let the lowly hear and be glad as they consider what God accomplishes in the lives of his faithful servants. The Church, which is the “People of the lowly”, hears and rejoices because in these members, enrolled among the blessed, she sees a reflection of the heavenly Father’s merciful love. At this liturgy let us make our own the inspired words of Jesus: “Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom” (Gospel acclamation).

The “little ones”: how different is human logic from the divine! The “little ones”, according to the Gospel, are those who know they are God’s creatures and shun all presumption: they expect everything from the Lord and so are never disappointed. This is the basic attitude of the believer: faith and humility are inseparable. Proof of this is the witness given by the new blesseds: Zefirino Agostini, Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão, Faustino Míguez and Theodore Guérin. The greater a person’s faith, the “littler” he feels, in the image of Jesus Christ, who, “though he was in the form of God, ... emptied himself” (Ph 2,6-7) and came among men as their servant.

2. The new blesseds are examples for us to imitate and witnesses to follow. Their lives show that the strength of little ones is prayer, as this Sunday’s word of God emphasizes. The saints and blesseds are first of all men and women of prayer: they bless the Lord at all times, his praise is ever in their mouth; they cry out and the Lord hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them, as the responsorial psalm reminds us (cf. Ps Ps 33 [34]:2, 18). Their prayer pierces the clouds, is ceaseless and untiring, and never rests until the Most High responds (cf. Sir Si 35,16-18).

The prayerful power of spiritual men and women is always accompanied by a deep sense of their own limitations and unworthiness. It is faith, not presumption, that nurtures the courage and fidelity of Christ’s disciples. Like the Apostle Paul, they know that the Lord has reserved a crown of righteousness for those who await his appearing with eager longing (cf. 2Tm 4,8).

3. “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength” (2Tm 4,17).

These words of the Apostle to Timothy certainly apply to Fr Zefirino Agostino, who never lost heart despite countless difficulties. He stands before us today as a humble, steadfast witness to the Gospel in the latter half of the 19th century, a fruitful period for the Church in Verona. His faith was steadfast, his charitable work effective, and ardent was the priestly spirit that distinguished him.

The love of the Lord spurred him in his apostolate to the poor, especially in the Christian education of girls, particularly the most needy. He understood well the important role women play in the rehabilitation of society by teaching the values of freedom, honesty and charity.

He advised the Ursulines, his spiritual daughters: “Poor girls: let them be the favourite object of your care and attention. Awaken their minds, teach their hearts virtue and save their souls from malignant contact with the wicked world” (Scritti alle Orsoline, 289). May his example strongly encourage those who honour him today as blessed and invoke him as their protector.

4. “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully” (2Tm 4,17).

This message of St Paul to Timothy is well reflected in the life of Friar Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão, who fulfilled his religious consecration by dedicating himself with love and devotion to the afflicted, the suffering and the slaves of his era in Brazil.

920 Let us thank God for the continual blessings granted through the powerful evangelizing influence which the Holy Spirit has exercised in so many souls down to our day through Friar Galvão. His authentically Franciscan faith, evangelically lived and apostolically spent in serving his neighbour, will be an encouragement to imitate this “man of peace and charity”. His mission of founding “Recolhimentos” dedicated to Our Lady and to Providence still bears astounding fruit: he was a fervent adorer of the Eucharist, a teacher and defender of Gospel charity, a wise spiritual director for many souls and a defender of the poor. May Mary Immaculate, whose “son and everlasting slave” Friar Galvão considered himself, enlighten the hearts of the faithful and awaken in them a hunger for God and a commitment to serving his kingdom through their own witness of authentic Christian life.

5. “He who humbles himself will be exalted” (
Lc 18,14). These words of Jesus which we have heard in the Gospel are fulfilled as the Piarist priest, Faustino Míguez, is raised to the glory of the altars. By renouncing his own ambitions, the new blessed followed Jesus the Teacher and dedicated his life to teaching children and young people in the style of St Joseph Calasanz. As an educator, his goal was the formation of the whole person. As a priest, he continually sought the holiness of souls. As a scientist, he was able to alleviate sickness by freeing humanity from physical suffering. In school and the street, in the confessional and the laboratory, Fr Faustino Míguez was the very image of Christ, who welcomes, pardons and gives life.

A “man of the people and for the people”, everything and everyone were his concern. Thus, he observed the conditions of ignorance and marginalization in which women lived, whom he regarded as the “soul of the family and the most important part of society”. To guide them from their childhood years on the path of human and Christian advancement, he founded the Calasanctian Institute of the Divine Shepherdess for the education of girls in religion and the arts.

His shining example, an interweaving of prayer, study and apostolate, continues today in the witness of his daughters and of the many teachers who courageously and joyfully work to imprint the image of Jesus on the minds and hearts of young people.

6. “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully” (2Tm 4,17). In these words to Timothy, St Paul looks back across the years of his apostolic ministry and affirms his hope in the Lord in the face of adversity.

The words of the Apostle were engraved on Mother Theodore Guérin’s heart when she left her native France in 1840 with her five companions to face the uncertainties and dangers of the frontier territory of Indiana. Her life and work were always guided by the sure hand of Providence, in which she had complete confidence. She understood that she must spend herself in God’s service, seeking always his will. Despite initial difficulties and misunderstandings, and subsequent crosses and afflictions, she felt deeply that God had blessed her Congregation of the Sisters of Providence, giving it growth and forging a union of hearts among its members. In the congregation’s schools and orphanages, Mother Theodore’s witness led many young boys and girls to know the loving care of God in their lives.

Today she continues to teach Christians to abandon themselves to the providence of our heavenly Father and to be totally committed to doing what pleases him. The life of Bl. Theodore Guérin is a testimony that everything is possible with God and for God. May her spiritual daughters and all who have experienced her charism live the same spirit today.

7. Dear brothers and sisters who have come from various parts of the world for this festive celebration, I warmly greet you and thank you for your presence!

May the witness offered by the new blesseds encourage us to advance generously on the way of the Gospel. By looking at those who found favour with God because of their humble submission to his will, may our spirit feel moved to follow the Gospel with patient and constant generosity.

“He whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and his prayer will reach to the heavens” (Si 35,16). Here is the great lesson which our brothers and sister offer us: to honour, love and serve God with our whole life, always knowing that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lc 18,14).

May God generously open the treasures of his mercy to all: he who “hears the cry of the oppressed” (Si 35,13); who “is close to the broken-hearted” (Ps 33 [34]:19); who rescues the poor “from all their distress” (Ps 33 [34]:18); who gives satisfaction to the just and affirms the right (cf. Sir Si 35,18).

921 May the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, obtain the gift of humility and fidelity for us and for every believer, so that our prayer may always be genuine and pleasing to the Lord.




Sunday, 8 November 1998

1. “God is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him” (Lc 20,38).

One week after the feast of All Saints and the commemoration of All Souls, this Sunday’s liturgy invites us once again to reflect on the mystery of the resurrection of the dead. This Christian proclamation is not a generic answer to man’s aspiration for life without end; on the contrary, it is the announcement of a sure hope, because it is based, as the Gospel reminds us, on the very fidelity of God. He in fact is the “God of the living” and communicates to all those who trust in him that divine life which he possesses in full. He, who is the “living One”, is the source of life.

Already in the Old Testament hope in the resurrection of the dead was gradually maturing. We heard an eloquent witness to this in the first reading, which gives an account of the martyrdom of the seven brothers at the time of the persecution unleashed by King Antiochus Epiphanes against the Maccabees and all those who opposed the introduction of pagan customs and cults among the Jewish people.

These seven brothers faced suffering and martyrdom, sustained by the exhortation of their heroic mother and by their faith in the divine reward reserved for the just. As one of them near death said: “One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him” (2M 7,14).

2. These words that resound in our assembly today call to mind the example of other martyrs of the faith who, not far from this place, offered their life for the cause of Christ. I am thinking of the young brothers, Simplicius and Faustinus, put to death during the persecution of Diocletian, and their sister Viatrix (Beatrice), who also died a martyr. Their bodies are buried, as is well known, in the nearby catacombs of Generosa, so very dear to you.

The courageous witness of these young martyrs, still remembered and celebrated today as the Holy Martyrs of Portuense, should be a pressing invitation to your community to proclaim with firmness and perseverance the death and resurrection of Christ always and everywhere.

May their example give new dynamism to your apostolate, especially during this pastoral year when the City Mission is addressed in particular to the areas of life and work. In fact, these are the social contexts in which Christians can often be shrouded in anonymity and therefore have greater difficulty in offering an incisive evangelical witness.

3. Dear brothers and sisters of the Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei in Magliana! I am pleased to celebrate the Day of the Lord with you and to visit your lively Christian community. Since divine Providence called me, 20 years ago, to the Chair of Peter, I dedicate some Sundays of the year to this pastoral service, which represents a primary commitment for every diocesan Bishop.

922 I thank God for the gift that he has given me, in these 20 years, of being able to meet 275 parish communities with their priests, men and women religious and ecclesial movements and associations. It is my sincere desire to be able to make, God willing, a pastoral visit to every parish, since, as I stressed in my first meeting with the Roman clergy, I am “deeply aware of having become Pope of the universal Church, because of being Bishop of Rome” (9 November 1978, L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 16 November 1978, p. 3).

4. Dear brothers and sisters, I embrace you all in the Lord. I especially greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishop of the area, Bishop Vincenzo Apicella, your young parish priest, Fr Gerard McCarthy — one can see he is of Irish origin, like many before him who came as missionaries from Ireland to the continent, even if not to Italy, but to the rest of the continent: certainly to Germany and other countries of Central Europe. I greet him and I see that you too greet him cordially — I also greet all the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St Charles Borromeo, who collaborate with him in guiding the community. I also greet, of course, their superior, Fr Camisasca.

A grateful thought goes to the dear Capuchin Franciscans of the Province of Abruzzo, who ran the parish from 1965 to 1997, always receiving sympathy and support from the population. May the Lord reward them for the good that they did during these years of generous pastoral service and grant them the gift of numerous and holy vocations to the advantage of the Capuchin religious family and for the good of the entire Christian community.

I also extend a cordial greeting to the Oblate Sisters of Divine Love and the Missionary Sisters of Charity, who make the gift of religious life present in this part of the Diocese. Finally, I affectionately greet each of you, dear faithful, with a special thought for the catechists, the numerous young people who are preparing for the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation, and the many members of the parish groups who with their gifts and vivacity contribute to enlivening the entire People of God.

5. I know that two different urban settlements live together within your parish: an older one which grew up around the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, and one more recently built which gravitates around the Church of the Holy Martyrs of Portuense. These two centres are also characterized by a certain social differentiation. In the first, in fact, the residents are above all families of much longer formation and elderly people, while in the second there are younger family units with a considerable number of children and adolescents. This diversity is not a problem for you, but, rather, a valuable opportunity to make a greater sense of community and sharing grow in all.

By harmoniously living the gifts that each one possesses, and by putting them with generosity at the service of one another, you will achieve that full communion of hearts, making the announcement of the Gospel of love more effective. There are also various social realities present in the parish: six schools, two clinics, two nursing homes, some company headquarters, industries, commercial and craft enterprises. It is your apostolic task to make the divine Word of salvation pervade all these areas of life and productive activity. See that it does so explicitly and adequately, corresponding as far as possible to the expectations and demands of the persons and social groups that reside here. To each and everyone bring the comfort of the merciful love of the Lord.

6. “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ” (
2Th 3,5).

I make these words of the Apostle Paul my own, and I want to leave them with you as a remembrance and a wish on the occasion of this visit. The love of God, fully revealed to us in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, is the inspirational source and light that illumines every missionary task. May the strength of the Spirit's love support you and help you to confess the name of Jesus courageously without ever being ashamed of the Cross.

May the Holy Martyrs of Portuense be an example to you and may the motherly protection of Our Lady of the Rosary, special patroness of your neighbourhood, assist you.

Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, pray for us. Amen.



Tuesday, 10 November 1998

923 1. “Our commonwealth is in heaven” (Ph 3,20).

The Apostle Paul’s words invite us to raise our minds and hearts to heaven, the true homeland of God’s children. The liturgical celebrations of the Solemnity of All Saints and All Souls’ Day have recently turned our attention to it. This is the spiritual atmosphere in which we have gathered in St Peter’s Basilica to offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice for the Cardinals and Bishops who have departed this world for the heavenly homeland during the past year. I would now like to recall by name the venerable Cardinals who have left us: Laurean Rugambwa, Eduardo Francisco Pironio, Antonio Quarracino, Jean Balland, António Ribeiro, Alberto Bovone, John Joseph Carberry, Agostino Casaroli, Anastasio Ballestrero and Alois Grillmeier.

The psalmist's words: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (Ps 129,5) can be fittingly applied to them and to the late Archbishops and Bishops. These Brothers of ours were like “sentinels” in the Church, day and night watching over Christ’s flock. Their apostolic work was based on faith and their attentive vigilance was focused far beyond earthly horizons, because their souls waited for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn (cf. Ps Ps 129,6).

2. As this year, which I have wished to dedicate in a particular way to the Holy Spirit, draws to a close, we have listened to the famous oracle of the prophet Ezekiel in which, with an extraordinarily expressive force, the Spirit of God appears as the principal agent of the resurrection of the people of Israel, rendered inert and almost lifeless for want of confidence. The prophet is invited by God to address his words not only to the dry bones — a metaphor for the “house of Israel” (Ez 37,11) — but even to the Spirit himself, with an unusual and very daring invocation: “Come from the four winds, O Spirit, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live” (Ez 37,9).

How often did our Brothers, whom we remember today, call upon the divine Paraclete in their life and in the exercise of their ministry: Veni Sancte Spiritus. Veni Creator Spiritus! How many times did they “prophesy to the Spirit”, so that he might imbue the People of God with his life-giving grace! Moreover, is not the mission of the ordained minister, and more especially of the Bishop, like a great epiclesis, which culminates in the celebration of the sacraments, especially those of the Eucharist, Confirmation and Orders?

In Christ’s image, every Pastor in the Church is called to make himself an active instrument of the Holy Spirit's action, which proceeds from the Father to illumine, comfort, heal and inspire.

Let us entrust these faithful ministers of his to the Creator Spirit, so that he may imbue them with fullness of life as they meet Christ in heaven.

3. In the Gospel we heard the account of Christ’s death according to the version of the Evangelist John. This striking Gospel passage enables us to immerse ourselves through meditation in the depths of God, which could be revealed only by the incarnate Word full of grace and truth. When we contemplate the Johannine image of the crucifixion and reflect on those final words, “he gave up his spirit” (Jn 19,30), we understand in the light of faith that precisely there, in the Son of God's ultimate gift of self, the Father poured out the Holy Spirit in fullness upon the world.

The Good Shepherd, who came so that men “may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10,10), completes his mission at the moment when, nailed to the cross and powerless to accomplish anything other than making the ultimate offering of himself, “gave up his spirit”, and in this supreme act pours out the Holy Spirit for the world’s salvation.

This is the way for every Christian, indeed, for every human being: to fulfil himself by giving himself. But in particular, it is the path for those whom a special gift of grace in the Church has configured to Christ the Good Shepherd, who “lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10,11). And just as Christ, after experiencing extreme weakness, was raised with his body by the power of the Holy Spirit, so the same Spirit will raise to new and eternal life those who have generously devoted their lives to the Gospel.

4. “Behold, your Mother!” (Jn 19,27). We would like to conclude our meditation with these last words spoken by Jesus on the cross and addressed to the Apostle John. Our venerable Brothers, the Cardinals and Bishops whom today we entrust to the divine goodness, “have taken Mary to their own home” (cf. Jn Jn 19,27). Let us pray that she, Mater misericordiae, will welcome them, with all the saints, to the Father’s house.




Friday, 13 November 1998

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Distinguished Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

1. “Woman, behold, your son” (
Jn 19,26). Jesus’ words addressed to Mary, his Mother, from the tree of the Cross before the attentive gaze of the disciple John, who recounts them in his Gospel, reveal the Lord’s desire to give as Mother to his Church at her birth — the very woman who once conceived him in her immaculate womb through the action and grace of the Holy Spirit. Since then the Christian people have never hesitated to welcome the Virgin Mary with filial love, seeing in her an excellent gift from Christ.

2. This afternoon I come with great joy to visit the Argentine National Church in Rome, to meet you and to celebrate the Word of God with you on the occasion of the enthronement in this church of the image of Our Lady of Luján, which I was pleased to bless during the Argentine Bishops’ last ad limina visit.

I am grateful to Bishop Estanislao Karlic, President of the Episcopal Conference, for the kind words he addressed to me at the beginning of this celebration in the name of the entire Argentine Episcopate. I return them, once again expressing to you, to Cardinal Raúl Francisco Primatesta, Archbishop of Córdoba and titular of this Church, and to the other Bishops of Argentina, my deep appreciation in the Lord, which I extend to all the priests, religious communities and faithful of your Dioceses. In a certain way they are represented here today through the Argentine colony in Rome, whose pastoral care is provided by the community of priests residing at this church, led by their rector, Fr Antonio Cavalieri.

I respectfully greet the President of the Argentine nation, Dr Carlos Saúl Menem, as well as the members of the Government and the civil authorities who have accompanied him and have wished to take part in this liturgical celebration, full of symbolic significance because it has taken place in this church which is the spiritual home of Argentine Catholics in the Eternal City and the visible expression of the deep bonds of communion and affection between the beloved Argentine people and the See of Peter. This beautiful church dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows was built through the persistence of Mons. José León Gallardo, whose remains rest here, and it has the honour of being the first national church in Rome of an American republic. It must therefore continue as the Roman home of all the Argentine faithful, a place of gathering and hospitality, of friendship and fraternal reconciliation.

3. As St Paul teaches us in the first reading, we must give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, because in Christ he has blessed us with every kind of blessing; he has chosen us in him that we might be holy through love; and in the person of the Son he has also destined us to be his adopted children (cf. Eph Ep 1,3-6). Children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ! This is the mystery of divine sonship. From it arise the common dignity and fundamental equality of all Christians, united to one another by the supernatural bonds of brotherhood which are deeper and more lasting than the ideologies, factionalism or group interests of our world.

4. God the Father, rich in mercy, has given his earthly children an Immaculate Mother: the Mother of Jesus. As we heard in the Gospel, high on the Cross, the supreme seat of love and sacrifice, Jesus speaks to his Mother and to the disciple. To his Mother he said: “Woman, behold, your son!”. He then said to the disciple: “Behold, your Mother!” (cf. Jn Jn 19,25-27). Looking at Our Lady of Sorrows, who dominates the apse of this church, we can better understand that Mary's new motherhood in the order of grace is the fruit of the love which achieved its full growth at the foot of the cross, through her participation in the Son’s redeeming love. In this way Mary acquired a new title on Calvary, which is why she is and can be called the spiritual Mother of her Son’s brothers and sisters.

Jesus entrusts us to Mary as our Mother, and Mary receives us all as her children! This is Christ's testament on the Cross. On the one hand, he entrusts the Church to the care of his own Mother; on the other, he entrusts his Mother to the care of the Church. The scene on Calvary reveals to us the secret of true Marian piety, which is a filial love of surrender and gratitude to Mary, a love of imitation and of consecration to her person.

925 5. Just as St John, the beloved disciple, took Mary into his home, today too the Argentine people take her into their Roman home through the enthronement of her holy image of Luján. To take Mary in, to offer her the throne of our hearts and minds, has a profound meaning which is far deeper than mere sentiment: it is the experience of our own poverty, which turns confidently to Mary’s all-powerful pleading with the Father; it is uniting our own will to Mary's, saying “yes” as she did, so that Christ will fully enter our lives. Today, as we enthrone this image of Our Lady, all Argentine Catholics can hear Mary’s motherly invitation to renew their love for Christ and to measure themselves by the truth of the Gospel, which renews individuals and institutions; at the end of our life, we will be judged according to our response.

6. Our Lady of Luján, patroness of Argentina, today I kneel before your image as the Pure and Immaculate Conception, together with all the sons and daughters of this beloved land, whose eyes and hearts are focused on you. At the crossroads of the third millennium, I entrust the Argentine nation to you, Holy Mother of Luján: the hopes and yearnings of her people; her families and homes, that they may live in holiness; her children and young people, that they may grow in peace and harmony, and attain the fullness of their human and Christian vocation; I also entrust to you the daily efforts and shared dialogue of employers, workers and politicians, who find their most authentic inspiration in the Church’s social teaching. Take under your protection all who are suffering, the poor, the sick and the marginalized. Make all Argentina faithful to your Son; may it open its heart wide to Christ, the Redeemer of man, the sure hope of humanity.

Our Lady of Luján, help the people of Argentina, support them in their defence of life, console them in their suffering, accompany them in their joys and always help them to raise their eyes to heaven, where the colours of their flag blend with the colours of your immaculate mantle. To you, the Church’s honour and praise for ever, Mother of Jesus and our Mother!

S. John Paul II Homil. 916