Message of Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day 2000, Rome
…I make again to you my pressing appeal to open wide the doors to Christ who “to those who received him, gave power to become children of God” (Jn 1:12) To receive Jesus Christ means to accept from the Father the command to live, loving Him and our brothers and sisters, showing solidarity to everyone, without distinction; it means believing that in the history of humanity even though it is marked by evil and suffering, the final word belongs to life and to love, because God came to dwell among us, so we may dwell in Him.
By his incarnation Christ became poor to enrich us with his poverty, and he gave us redemption, which is the fruit above all of the blood he shed on the Cross (cfr Catechism of the Catholic Church 517). On Calvary, “ours were the sufferings he bore ... he was pierced through for our faults” (Is 53: 4-5). The supreme sacrifice of his life, freely given for our salvation, is the proof of God’s infinite love for us. Saint John the Apostle writes: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that everyone that believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). He sent Him to share in every way, except sin, our human condition; he “gave” him totally to men, despite their obstinate and homicidal rejection (cfr Mt 21:33-39), to obtain, through his death, their reconciliation. “The God of creation is revealed as the God of redemption, as the God who is 'faithful to himself' and faithful to his love for man and the world which he revealed on the day of creation ... how precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he gained so great a Redeemer” (Redemptor hominis 9.10)
Jesus went towards his death. He did not draw back from any of the consequences of his being “with us”, Emmanuel. He took our place, ransoming us on the Cross from evil and sin (cfr Evangelium vitae 50). Just as the Roman Centurion, seeing the manner in which Jesus died, understood that he was the Son of God (cfr Mk 15:39) so we too, seeing and contemplating the Crucified Lord, understand who God really is, as he reveals in Jesus the depth of his love for mankind (cfr Redemptor hominis 9). “Passion” means a passionate love, unconditioned self- giving: Christ’s passion is the summit of an entire life “given” to his brothers and sisters to reveal the heart of the Father. The Cross, which seems to rise up from the earth, in actual fact reaches down from heaven, enfolding the universe in a divine embrace. The Cross reveals itself to be “the centre, meaning and goal of all history and of every human life” (Evangelium vitae 50).
“One man has died for all” (2 Cor 5:14): Christ “gave himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:2). Behind the death of Jesus there is a plan of love, which the faith of the Church calls the “mystery of the redemption”: the whole of humanity is redeemed, that is, set free from the slavery of sin and led into the kingdom of God. Christ is Lord of heaven and earth. Whoever listens to his word and believes in the Father, who sent him, has eternal life (cfr Jn 5:25). He is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29.36), the high priest who, having suffered like us, is able to share our infirmity (cfr Heb 4:14 ) and “made perfect” through the painful experience of the Cross, becomes “for all who obey him, the source of eternal salvation” (Heb 5:9).
3. Dear young people, faced with these great mysteries, learn to lift your hearts in an attitude of contemplation. Stop and look with wonder at the infant Mary brought into the world, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger: the infant is God himself who has come among us. Look at Jesus of Nazareth, received by some and scorned by others, despised and rejected: He is the Saviour of all. Adore Christ, our Redeemer, who ransoms us and frees us from sin and death: He is the living God, the source of Life.
Contemplate and reflect! God created us to share in his very own life; he calls us to be his children, living members of the mystical Body of Christ, luminous temple of the Spirit of Love. He calls us to be his: he wants us all to be saints. Dear young people, may it be your holy ambition to be holy, as He is holy.
You will ask me: but is it possible today to be saints? If we had to rely only on human strength, the undertaking would be truly impossible. You are well aware, in fact, of your successes and your failures; you are aware of the heavy burdens weighing on man, the many dangers which threaten him and the consequences caused by his sins. At times we may be gripped by discouragement and even come to think that it is impossible to change anything either in the world or in ourselves.
Although the journey is difficult, we can do everything in the One who is our Redeemer. Turn then to no one, except Jesus. Do not look elsewhere for that which only He can give you, because “of all the names in the world given to men this is the only one by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:12). With Christ, saintliness - the divine plan for every baptized person - becomes possible. Rely on Him; believe in the invincible power of the Gospel and place faith as the foundation of your hope. Jesus walks with you, he renews your heart and strengthens you with the vigour of his Spirit.
Young people of every continent, do not be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium! Be contemplative, love prayer; be coherent with your faith and generous in the service of your brothers and sisters, be active members of the Church and builders of peace. To succeed in this demanding project of life, continue to listen to His Word, draw strength from the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Penance. The Lord wants you to be intrepid apostles of his Gospel and builders of a new humanity. In fact, how could you say you believe in God made man without taking a firm position against all that destroys the human person and the family? If you believe that Christ has revealed the Father’s love for every person, you cannot fail to strive to contribute to the building of a new world, founded on the power of love and forgiveness, on the struggle against injustice and all physical, moral and spiritual distress, on the orientation of politics, economy, culture and technology to the service of man and his integral development…