S. John Paul II Homil. 1146




Thursday, 18 May 2000

1. "Ecce Sacerdos magnus, qui in diebus suis placuit Deo".

The great Priest, indeed the High Priest, is Jesus Christ. He - as the Letter to the Hebrews affirms - entered the sanctuary with his own blood once and for all, achieving for us eternal redemption (cf. Heb He 9,12). Christ, Priest and Victim: he "is the same yesterday and today and for ever!" (He 13,8). We who, as priests, have been called to share in his priesthood in a specific way are gathered together this morning to reflect on it.

The ministerial priesthood! Today's liturgy speaks of it to us, taking us back in spirit to the Upper Room, to the Last Supper, when Christ washed the Apostles' feet. The Evangelist John bears witness to it. So does Luke, but, in the passage just proclaimed, he offers us the correct interpretation of this symbolic gesture of Christ, who says of himself: "I am among you as one who serves" (Lc 22,27). The Teacher leaves to his friends the commandment to love one another as he has loved them, by serving one another (cf. Jn Jn 13,14): "I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you" (Jn 13,15).

2. The ministerial priesthood! It refers us above all to the Eucharist, in which Christ instituted the new rite of the Christian Passover, at the same time establishing the priestly ministry in the Church.
At the Last Supper Christ took bread into his hands, broke it and gave it to the Apostles, saying: "This is my body which will be given up for you" (Rite of Mass, cf. Lk Lc 22,19). Then he took the cup filled with wine and gave it to the Apostles, saying: "This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me" (Rite of Mass).

As often as you repeat this rite, the Apostle Paul explains, "you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1Co 11,26).

1147 Beloved priests, in this way Christ places in our hands, under the appearances of bread and wine, the living memorial of the Sacrifice he offered to the Father on the Cross. He has entrusted it to his Church, to celebrate it until the end of the world. In the Church, as we know, it is he himself as the Eternal High Priest of the New Covenant who down the centuries acts through us, through his ordained ministers.

"Do this in memory of me": every time you do this, you will proclaim my death until my final coming.

3. The ministerial priesthood! We all share in it, and today we want to offer God a unanimous thanksgiving for this extraordinary gift. A gift for all times and for people of every race and culture. A gift that is renewed in the Church, through God's unchanging mercy and the generous, faithful response of so many frail men. A gift that never ceases to amaze those who receive it.

After more than 50 years of priestly life, I feel an intense need to praise and thank God for his immense goodness. My thoughts return at this moment to the Upper Room in Jerusalem where, during my recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I was able to celebrate Holy Mass. In that place my priesthood and yours arose from the mind and heart of Christ. This is precisely why I wanted to address my Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday from that "room on the upper floor", a Letter which I again offer to you today.

In the Upper Room, on the eve of his Passion, Jesus wanted to give us a share in the vocation and mission entrusted to him by the heavenly Father, that is, to bring people into his universal mystery of salvation.

4. I embrace you with deep affection, dear priests of the whole world! It is an embrace that knows no bounds and extends to the priests of every particular Church, reaching you especially, dear sick priests, who are alone or troubled by various difficulties.

I am also thinking of the priests who for different reasons no longer exercise their sacred ministry, but continue to bear in them that special configuration to Christ inherent in the indelible character of Holy Orders. I pray for them often and invite everyone to remember them in prayer, so that, through the properly obtained dispensation, they may continue to fulfil the commitment to Christian integrity and ecclesial communion.

5. Dear priests of every country and every culture, this is a day wholly dedicated to our priesthood, to the ministerial priesthood.

With great affection I greet and thank Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, who at the beginning of the celebration addressed cordial best wishes to me, in your name as well, on this day which is very significant for me. I greet the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops present. I greet all of you, dear brothers in the priesthood, who have wished to be here with me today, even by coming from afar at the cost of considerable sacrifice. I hold you all close to my heart.

We have been consecrated in the Church for this specific ministry. We are called in various ways, to contribute, wherever Providence puts us, to the formation of the community of God's People. Our task - the Apostle Peter reminded us - is to tend the flock God entrusted to us, not by constraint but willingly, not as domineering over those in our charge, but by setting them an example (cf.
1P 5,2-3); a witness that, if necessary, can reach the point of shedding one's blood, as many of our confrères did in the century which has just ended.

This is our way of holiness, which leads us to our ultimate meeting with the "supreme shepherd" in whose hands is the "crown of glory" (1P 5,4). This is our mission at the service of the Christian people. May Mary, Mother of our priesthood, help us. May we be helped by the many holy priests who have gone before us in this sublime mission that is laden with responsibility.

1148 Pray for us too, dear Christian people who have gathered round us today in faith and joy. You are a royal people, a priestly race, a holy assembly. You are the People of God who, in every part of the earth, share in Christ's priesthood. Accept the gift which we renew today in the service of this your special dignity. O priestly people, thank God with us for our ministry and sing with us to your Lord and ours: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for the gift of the priesthood! Grant that the Church of the new millennium may count on the generous work of many holy priests!

At the end of Mass the Holy Father greeted the priests in various languages. To the English-speaking he said:

I greet the English-speaking priests taking part in today's Jubilee celebration, especially those marking their silver or golden anniversaries of priestly ordination and those who, like me, are celebrating their 80th birthday. Let us pray for one another that our lives will be ever more fully conformed to Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest, and marked by that pastoral charity which has its source in his Sacred Heart.

At the end of this beautiful priestly celebration, I cordially thank all those who have taken part, especially the dear Cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops from all over the world, the Roman Curia, the Vicariate of Rome and all the Italian-speaking priests.
I thank you all for your solidarity and your attachment to the See of Peter and to his Successor. Please bring to your communities my greetings and gratitude for their prayers. The communion and unity among us is a great force for the new evangelization.



Sunday, 21 May 2000

1. "Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth" (1Jn 3,18). This exhortation taken from the Apostle John in the second reading of this Mass invites us to imitate Christ and to live in close union with him. Jesus himself also told us this in the Gospel just proclaimed: "As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" (Jn 15,4).

Through profound union with Christ, begun in Baptism and nourished by prayer, the sacraments and the practice of the Gospel virtues, men and women of all times, as children of the Church, have reached the goal of holiness. They are saints because they put God at the centre of their lives and made seeking and extending his kingdom the purpose of their existence; saints because their deeds continue to speak of their total love for the Lord and for their brethren by bearing abundant fruits, thanks to their living faith in Jesus Christ and their commitment to loving as he loved us, including their enemies.

2. During the Jubilee pilgrimage of Mexicans, the Church rejoices in canonizing these children of Mexico: Cristóbal Magallanes and his 24 companion martyrs, priests and laymen; José María de Yermo y Parres, priest and founder of the Religious Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas, foundress of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

You Mexican pilgrims have come in great numbers, accompanied by a large group of Bishops, to take part in this solemn celebration honouring the memory of these illustrious children of the Church and of your homeland. I greet you all affectionately. The Church in Mexico rejoices at relying on these intercessors in heaven, models of supreme charity who followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. They all dedicated their lives to God and their brethren through martyrdom or by generously serving the needy. The firmness of their faith and hope sustained them in the various trials they had to endure. They are a precious legacy, a fruit of the faith rooted in the lands of Mexico, a faith which, at the dawn of the third millennium of Christianity, must be preserved and revitalized so that you may continue to be faithful to Christ and to his Church as you were in the past. Mexico ever faithful!

1149 3. In the first reading we heard how Paul moved about Jerusalem, "preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists; but they were seeking to kill him" (Ac 9,28-29). Paul's mission prepares for the growth of the Church, which will take the Gospel message everywhere. And in this expansion, persecution and violence against those who preached the Good News were not lacking. But despite human adversities, the Church relies on the promise of divine help. This is why we heard that "the Church ... had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it was multiplied" (Ac 9,31).

We can well apply this passage from the Acts of the Apostles to the situation which Cristóbal Magallanes and his 24 companion martyrs had to endure in the first 30 years of the 20th century.

Most of them belonged to the secular clergy and three were laymen seriously committed to helping priests. They did not stop courageously exercising their ministry when religious persecution intensified in the beloved land of Mexico, unleashing hatred of the Catholic religion. They all freely and calmly accepted martyrdom as a witness to their faith, explicitly forgiving their persecutors. Faithful to God and to the Catholic faith so deeply rooted in the ecclesial communities which they served by also promoting their material well-being, today they are an example to the whole Church and to Mexican society in particular.

After the harsh trials that the Church endured in Mexico during those turbulent years, today Mexican Christians, encouraged by the witness of these witnesses to the faith, can live in peace and harmony, contributing the wealth of Gospel values to society. The Church grows and advances, since she is the crucible in which many priestly and religious vocations are born, where families are formed according to God's plan, and where young people, a substantial part of the Mexican population, can grow up with the hope of a better future. May the shining example of Cristóbal Magallanes and his companion martyrs help you to make a renewed commitment of fidelity to God, which can continue to transform Mexican society so that justice, fraternity and harmony will prevail among all.

4. "This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us" (1Jn 3,23). The command par excellence that Jesus gave to his disciples is to love one another fraternally as he has loved us (cf. Jn Jn 15,12). In the second reading we heard, the command has a twofold aspect: to believe in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, confessing him at every moment, and to love one another because Christ himself has commanded us to do so. This command is so fundamental to the lives of believers that it becomes the prerequisite for the divine indwelling. Faith, hope and love lead to the existential acceptance of God as the sure path to holiness.

It could be said that this was the path taken by José María de Yermo y Parres, who lived his priestly commitment to Christ by following him with all his might, distinguishing himself at the same time by an essentially prayerful and contemplative attitude. In the Heart of Christ he found guidance for his spirituality and, in reflecting on his infinite love for men, he desired to imitate him by making charity the rule of his life.

The new saint founded the Religious Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Poor, a name which combines the two great loves that express the new saint's spirit and charism in the Church.

Dear daughters of St José María de Yermo y Parres, generously live your founder's rich heritage, beginning with fraternal communion in community and extending it in merciful love to your brothers and sisters with humility, simplicity, effectiveness and, above all, perfect union with God.

5. "Abide in me, and I in you.... He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15,4). In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus urged us to abide in him in order to unite all men and women with him. This invitation requires us to fulfil our baptismal commitment by living in his love, drawing inspiration from his Word, being nourished by the Eucharist, receiving his forgiveness and, when necessary, carrying the cross with him. Separation from God is the greatest tragedy a person can experience. The sap that flows to the branch makes it grow; the grace that comes to us through Christ makes us grow to adulthood so that we can bear fruits of eternal life.

St María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas, the first Mexican woman to be canonized, knew how to remain united to Christ during her long earthly life and thus she bore abundant fruits of eternal life. Her spirituality was marked by an exceptional Eucharistic piety, since it is clear that an excellent way to union with the Lord is to seek him, to adore him, to love him in the most holy mystery of his real presence in the Sacrament of the Altar.

She wanted to continue his work by founding the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who today in the Church follow her charism of charity to the poor and the sick. Indeed, the love of God is universal; it is meant for all human beings and for this reason the new saint understood that it was her duty to spread it, generously caring for everyone until the end of her days, even when her physical energy was declining and the heavy trials that she had to endure throughout her life had sapped her strength. Very faithful in her observance of the Constitutions, respectful to Bishops and priests, attentive to seminarians, St María de Jesús Sacramentado is an eloquent example of total dedication to the service of God and to suffering humanity.

1150 6. This solemn celebration reminds us that faith involves a deep relationship with the Lord. The new saints teach us that the true followers and disciples of Jesus are those who do God's will and are united with him through faith and grace.

Listening to God's word, living one's life in harmony with it and giving priority to Christ configure a human being's life to him. "Abide in me and I in you" continues to be Jesus' invitation and must constantly echo in each of us and in our surroundings. St Paul, in accepting this call, could exclaim: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (
Ga 2,20). May the Word of God proclaimed in this liturgy make our lives authentic by remaining existentially one with the Lord, loving not only in word, but in deed and in truth (cf. 1Jn 3,18). Thus our life will truly be "through Christ, with him and in him".

We are celebrating the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. One of its aims is to "inspire in all the faithful a true longing for holiness" (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 42). May the example of these new saints, a gift of the Church in Mexico to the universal Church, spur all the faithful, using all the means within their reach and especially with the help of God's grace, to seek holiness with courage and determination.

May Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom the martyrs prayed at the supreme moment of their sacrifice and to whom St José María de Yermo and St María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas professed such tender devotion, accompany with her motherly protection the good intentions of all who honour the new saints today, and help those who follow their example. May she also guide and protect the Church so that, through her evangelizing activity and the Christian witness of all her children, she may light humanity's path in the third Christian millennium. Amen.


Sunday, 28 May 2000

1. "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love" (Jn 15,9). Christ, on the eve of his death, opens his heart to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. He leaves them his spiritual testament. In the Easter season the Church constantly returns in spirit to the Upper Room, to listen again with reverence to the Lord's words and to draw light and strength from them for her journey on the paths of the world.

Today our Church of Rome, which is celebrating her Jubilee, returns with trembling heart to the Upper Room. She returns there to be summoned by the divine Master, to meditate on his words and to discover the most fitting response to what he asks of her.

The words that our Church hears today on her Lord's lips are strong and clear: "Abide in my love!... This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15,9). How could we not feel that Jesus' words are meant particularly for us? Does the Church of Rome not have the specific task of "presiding in charity" over the entire Christian world (cf. St Ignatius, Ad Rom., Pref.)? Yes, the commandment of love involves our Church of Rome with special force and urgency.

And love is demanding. Christ says: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15,13). Love will lead Jesus to the cross. Every disciple must remember this. Love comes from the Upper Room and leads back to the Upper Room. In fact, after the Resurrection it will be in the Upper Room again that the Apostles will think back to the words Jesus spoke on Holy Thursday and will become aware of their salvific meaning. By accepting and reciprocating Christ's love, from now on they are his friends: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" (Jn 15,15).

Gathered in the Upper Room after the divine Master's Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, the Apostles will fully understand the meaning of his words: "I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (Jn 15,16). By the action of the Holy Spirit these words will make them the saving community which is the Church. The Apostles will understand that they have been chosen for a special mission, to bear witness to love: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love".

Today this message is passed on to us: as Christians we are called to be witnesses to love. This is the "fruit" which we are called to bear, and it is this fruit which "abides" in time and in eternity!

1151 2. The second reading from the Acts of the Apostles speaks of the apostolic mission which flows from this love. Peter, sent for by the Roman centurion Cornelius, goes to him in Caesarea and helps him with his conversion, the conversion of a pagan. The Apostle himself comments on that very important event: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him" (Ac 10,34-35). When the Holy Spirit later descends on that group of believers of pagan origin, Peter comments: "Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" (Ac 10,47). Enlightened from on high, Peter understands and testifies that all are called by Christ's love.

Here we are at a decisive turning-point in the Church's life: a turning-point to which the Book of Acts attaches great importance. The Apostles, and Peter in particular, had not yet clearly perceived that their mission was not limited to the children of Israel. What happened in Cornelius' house convinced them that this was not the case. From that time on, Christianity began to grow outside Israel and an ever deeper awareness of the Church's universality started to take hold: every man and every woman is called, without distinction of race or culture, to receive the Gospel. Christ's love is for everyone and the Christian is a witness to this divine and universal love.

3. Firmly convinced of this truth, Peter went first to Antioch and finally to Rome. The Church of Rome owes its origins to him. Today's meeting of the Ecclesial Community of Rome, in the heart of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, rekindles in all of us the memory of these apostolic origins, the memory of Peter, the first Pastor of our city. Numerous pilgrims from every part of the world are coming to his tomb in these months to celebrate the Jubilee of the Incarnation of the Lord and to profess the same faith as Peter's in Christ, Son of the Living God.

Once again this shows the particular vocation which divine Providence has reserved for Rome: to be a reference-point for the communion and unity of the whole Church and for the spiritual renewal of all humanity.

4. Dear faithful of the beloved Church of Rome, I am pleased to extend my affectionate greeting to you on this occasion which brings us together to celebrate our Diocesan Jubilee. I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Vicegerent and the Auxiliary Bishops, the priests and deacons, the men and women religious and all of you, lay people actively involved in parishes, movements, groups and the various milieus of the city's work and life. I also greet the mayor and the authorities present.

This day is the symbolic peak of an intense preparatory journey. From the Diocesan Synod to the City Mission, our Church of Rome, through her various members, has shown great pastoral vitality and ardent evangelizing zeal in these years. Today we want to thank the Lord for this. Through appropriate pastoral initiatives, the entire city was able to hear the Gospel message again in homes and workplaces. In this way it became clear how much the Church has been woven into the fabric of the people, and how close she is to the poorest and most marginalized.

At the end of the City Mission, on the evening of the Vigil of Pentecost last year, I told you: we must not squander the fruits of this season richly blessed with the Lord's gifts. This is why today's meeting is, yes, the point of arrival, but also an indispensable starting-point. From now on, there must be a general effort to make the "spirit of the City Mission" penetrate more and more deeply into the ordinary, everyday pastoral life of parishes and ecclesial realities. Everyone must consider this an "ongoing commitment" and the entire People of God must be involved, starting with the "missionaries", the priests, religious and lay persons who have experienced first-hand the beauty and joy of evangelization. Precisely because of this necessary renewal of the city's families and milieus, it is most appropriate that in the coming pastoral year we should undertake an attentive discernment of our journey thus far.

5. Let us thank God for all that the Diocese is experiencing; let us thank him above all for the events which are being celebrated at various times in this Jubilee Year. We are now on the eve of great, demanding events which require the broadest and most generous collaboration. I am thinking first of the International Eucharistic Congress, the "heart of the Jubilee", which celebrates the living presence among us and for us of the Word made flesh, "bread of life for the world".

Then there is the 15th World Youth Day. This will see a multitude of young people coming to Rome in August from every part of the world; they expect to be welcomed with joy and friendliness by their Roman peers and to receive hospitality from families and from the entire Christian and civil community.

In addition, in the month of October we will celebrate the Jubilee of Families, which will require special care on the part of the Diocese and of Christian families. Let us prepare for these events with heartfelt concern.

6. Church of Rome, know how extraordinary your mission also is in relation to the Jubilee! Do not be discouraged by the difficulties you meet on your daily path. You will be sustained by the witness of the Apostles Peter and Paul, who consecrated your beginnings with their blood; may you be encouraged by the examples of the saints and martyrs who have given you the torch of unswerving dedication to the Gospel. Be not afraid! Through your children's efforts may Christ's love reach all the city's inhabitants; may it spread to every milieu, to bring joy and hope everywhere.

1152 And you, Mary, Salus populi Romani, Our Lady of Divine Love, help us. We entrust ourselves to you with confidence. Through your motherly intercession, may the Church of Rome receive a new descent of the Holy Spirit, the principle of her unity and the strength for her mission.
Praised be Jesus Christ!


Friday, 2 June 2000

1. "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality" (He 13,1-2).

The passage from the Letter to the Hebrews, which we heard a few moments ago, links the exhortation to offer hospitality to the guest, the pilgrim and the stranger with the commandment of love, which sums up the new law of Christ. "Do not neglect to show hospitality". This message rings out in a particular way today, dear migrants and itinerant people, as we celebrate this special Jubilee.

I greet you with great affection and thank you for responding in great numbers to my invitation and that of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People. I especially greet Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, President of your Pontifical Council, and thank him for his words on your behalf at the beginning of our celebration. With him, I greet the Secretary, Archbishop Gioia, the Undersecretary, the staff and all who have helped to organize this important spiritual event.

Among you are migrants from various countries and continents; refugees who have fled situations of violence and are asking to see their fundamental rights recognized; foreign students, wishing to complete their scientific and technical training; people of the sea and sky, who work at the service of those who travel by ship or plane; tourists, interested in knowing new surroundings, environments, customs and traditions; nomads, who have traveled the roads of the world down the centuries; circus people, who bring their attractions and healthy entertainment to public squares. To each and all, my most cordial embrace.

Your presence recalls that the Son of God himself, when he came to dwell among us, became a migrant (cf. 1Jn 1,14). He became a pilgrim in the world and in history.

2. "Come, O blessed of my Father, ... for ... I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25,23-35).

Jesus says that we can enter the kingdom of God only by practising the commandment of love. We do not enter it, then, through racial, cultural or religious privileges, but indeed by doing the will of the Father who is in heaven. (cf. Mt Mt 7,21).

Your Jubilee, dear migrants and itinerant people, expresses with remarkable eloquence the central place which the charity of acceptance must hold in the Church. In taking on our human and historical condition, Christ was united in a way with every human being. He accepted every one of us and, in the commandment of love, asked us to imitate his example, that is, to accept one another as Christ accepted us (cf. Rom Rm 15,7).

1153 Ever since the Son of God "pitched his tent among us", every person has in a way become a "place" of encounter with him. Welcoming Christ in our needy brothers and sisters is the condition for being able to meet him "face to face" and perfectly at the end of our earthly journey.

Thus the exhortation of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews is still timely: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (
He 13,2).

3. I make my own the words of my venerable predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, who, in his homily at the close of the Second Vatican Council, said: "For the Catholic Church, no one is a stranger, no one is excluded, no one is distant" (AAS, 58 [1966], PP 51-59). In the Church, wrote the Apostle of the Gentiles at the very beginning, there are no strangers or sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (cf. Eph Ep 2,19).

Unfortunately, we still encounter in the world a closed-minded attitude and even one of rejection, due to unjustified fears and concern for one's own interests alone. These forms of discrimination are incompatible with belonging to Christ and to the Church. Indeed, the Christian community is called to spread in the world the leaven of brotherhood, of that fellowship of differences which we can also experience at our meeting today.

Certainly, in a complex society like ours which is marked by many tensions, the culture of acceptance must be joined with prudent and far-sighted laws and norms, which allow the most to be made of the positive aspects of human mobility and to provide for its possibly negative aspects. This will ensure that every person is effectively respected and accepted.

Even more in the era of globalization, the Church has a precise message: to work so that this world of ours, which is often described as a "global village", may truly be more united, more fraternal, more welcoming. Here is the message which this Jubilee celebration is meant to spread everywhere: always put man and respect for his rights at the centre of the phemonena of mobility.

4. Having been entrusted with the universal message of salvation, the Church knows that her primary task is to proclaim the Gospel to every individual and to all peoples. From the moment when the risen Christ sent the Apostles to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth, her horizons are those of the whole world. It was in the multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious context of the Mediterranean that the first Christians began to recognize one another and to live as brothers and sisters since they were children of God.

Today it is not only the Mediterranean but the whole world which is open to the complex dynamics of a universal brotherhood. Your presence here in Rome, dear brothers and sisters, stresses how important it is that this phenomenon of human growth should be constantly enlightened by Christ and by his Gospel of hope. It is in this perspective that we must continue our efforts, sustained by divine grace and by the intercession of the great patron saints of migrants: from St Frances Xavier Cabrini to Bl. John Baptist Scalabrini. These saints and blesseds remind us what the Christian vocation among men and women is: walking with them as brothers or sisters, sharing their joys and hopes, difficulties and sufferings. Like the disciples of Emmaus, believers, supported by the living presence of the risen Christ, become in turn the traveling companions of their brothers and sisters in trouble, offering them the word which rekindles hope in their hearts. With them they break the bread of friendship, brotherhood and mutual help.

This is how to build the civilization of love. This is how to proclaim the hoped-for coming of the new heavens and the new earth to which we are heading.

Let us invoke the intercession of these patron saints for all those who belong to the great family of migrants and itinerant people. Let us invoke in a special way the protection of Mary, who went before us on the pilgrimage of faith, so that she might guide the steps of every man and woman who seeks freedom, justice and peace. May she accompany the individuals, families and communities who are on the move. May she fill the hearts of residents with cordiality and acceptance; may she foster relations of mutual understanding and solidarity among those who know they are called one day to share the same joy in the house of the heavenly Father! Amen!

S. John Paul II Homil. 1146