15th World Youth Day, 2000


15th World Youth Day Pope John Paul II The Holy Father's Address at the Welcoming Ceremony St. Peter’s Square August 15, 2000 First Part 1. Dear young people of the Fifteenth World Youth Day, dear brother priests, men and women religious, and teachers who are here with you, welcome to Rome! I thank Cardinal James Francis Stafford for his warm words of presentation. With him I greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini, and the other Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops present. I also thank the two young people who so well expressed the feelings of all of you, gathered here from so many parts of the world. After stopping at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, the Cathedral of Rome, to greet the young people of Rome and Italy, I welcome all of you with joy. The Roman and Italian young people join me in offering you a most fraternal and heartfelt welcome. Your faces bring to mind, and in a way make present here, all the young people that it has been my privilege to meet on my apostolic journeys throughout the world in these years at the end of the millennium. To each of you I say: Peace be with you! Peace be with you, young people who have come from Africa: Peace be with you, young people who have come from the Americas: Peace be with you, young people who have come from Asia: Peace be with you, young people who have come from Europe: Peace be with you, young people who have come from Oceania: With special affection I greet the group of young people from countries where hatred, violence and war bring suffering to the life of entire populations. Thanks to the solidarity shown by all the youth here present, they have been able to come here this evening. To them I say, in your name as well, that in our gathering we are close to them as brothers and sisters; with all of you, I ask for them and for their people a time of peace in justice and freedom. I mention too the young people of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities who are here this evening with some of their Pastors: may the World Youth Day be another occasion for us to know each other and to implore together from the Spirit of the Lord the gift of the perfect unity of all Christians! Dear friends from the five Continents, I am happy to inaugurate with you this evening the Jubilee of Young People. Pilgrims in the footsteps of the Apostles, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
Second Part 1. Dear friends who have travelled so many miles in so many ways to come to Rome, to the Tombs of the Apostles, let me begin by putting to you a question: what have you come here to find? You have come to celebrate your Jubilee: the Jubilee of the young Church. Yours is not just any journey: if you have set out on pilgrimage it is not just for the sake of recreation or an interest in culture. Well then, let me ask again: what have you come in search of? Or rather, who have you come her to find? There can be only one answer to that: you have come in search of Jesus Christ! But Jesus Christ has first gone in search of you. To celebrate the Jubilee can have no other meaning than that of celebrating and meeting Jesus Christ, the Word who took flesh and came to dwell among us. The Prologue of Saint John’s Gospel, which has just now been proclaimed, are in a sense Jesus’s visiting card. These words invite us to fix our eyes on the mystery that he is. These words hold a special message for you, dear young people: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (Jn 1:1-2). Indicating to us the Word who is one in being with the Father, the eternal Word generated as God from God and light from light, the Evangelist takes us to the heart of the divine life, but also to the wellspring of the world. This Word in fact is the beginning of all creation: all things were made through him, and without him was not made anything that was made (Jn 1:3). The whole created world, before ever it came to be, was in the mind of God and was willed by him in an eternal plan of love. Therefore, if we look at the world in depth, allowing ourselves to marvel at the wisdom and beauty which God has poured out upon it, we can see in it a reflection of the Word, which biblical revelation unveils for us fully in the face of Jesus of Nazareth. In a sense, creation is the first revelation of him. 2. The Prologue continues with these words: In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not accept it (Jn 1:4-5). For the Evangelist, the light is life, and death, the enemy of life, is darkness. Through the Word, all life appeared on the earth, and in the Word this life has its perfect fulfilment. Identifying light and life, John is thinking of the life that is not just the biological life of the body but the life which comes from sharing in the very life of Christ. The Evangelist says: The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world (Jn 1:9). This enlightenment was given to humanity on the night of Bethlehem, when the eternal Word of the Father took a body from the Virgin Mary, became man and was born into the world. From that time onwards, every person who by faith shares in the mystery of that event experiences some measure of that enlightenment. Christ himself, anno

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