WORLD YOUTH DAY 2000 -
MESSAGE TO YOUTH
John Paul II
In preparation for the World Youth Day to be held in Rome during the Year of the
Great Jubilee, the Holy Father has addressed this message to the youth of the world.
"The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us"
My dear young people
1. Fifteen years ago, at the close of the Holy Year of the Redemption, I entrusted to
you a great wooden Cross, asking you to carry it across the world as a sign of the love
which the Lord Jesus has for mankind and to proclaim to everyone that only in Christ who
died and is risen is there salvation and redemption. Since that day, carried by generous
hands and hearts, the Cross has made a long, uninterrupted pilgrimage across the
continents, to demonstrate that the Cross walks with young people and young people walk
with the Cross.
Around the "Holy Year Cross", World Youth Days were born and developed as
meaningful "moments of rest" along your journey as young Christians; a constant,
pressing invitation to build life on the rock that is Christ. How can we fail to bless the
Lord for the countless fruits born in the hearts of individuals and in the whole Church
thanks to the World Youth Days, which in this last part of the century have marked the
journey of young believers towards the new millennium?
After spanning the continents, that Cross now returns to Rome bringing with it the
prayers and commitment of millions of young people who have recognized it as a simple and
sacred sign of God's love for humanity. Because Rome, as you know, will host World Youth
Day of the Year 2000, in the heart of the Great Jubilee.
Dear young people, I invite you therefore to undertake with joy the pilgrimage to Rome
for this important ecclesial appointment, which will rightly be the "Youth
Jubilee". Prepare to enter the Holy Door, knowing that to pass through it is to
strengthen faith in Him in order to live the new life which he has given to us
Incarnationis Mysterium 8). 2. I chose as the theme for your 15th World Day the lapidary
phrase with which Saint John the Apostle describes the profound mystery of God made man:
"The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14). What distinguishes the
Christian faith from all other religions, is the certainty that the man Jesus of Nazareth
is the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the second person of the Trinity who came into the
world. "Such is the joyous conviction of the Church from her beginning, whenever she
sings 'the mystery of our religion': 'He was manifested in the flesh'" (Catechism of
the Catholic Church 463). God, the invisible one is alive and present in the person of
Jesus, Son of Mary, the Theotokos, Mother of God. Jesus of Nazareth is God with us,
Emmanuel: he who knows Him knows God, he who sees Him sees God, he who follows Him follows
God, he who unites himself with Him is united with God (cfr Jn 12:44-50). In Jesus, born
in Bethlehem, God embraces the human condition, making himself accessible, establishing a
covenant with mankind.
On the eve of the new millennium, 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"
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
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
"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"
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. 4. I sincerely wish
that the Jubilee, now at the door, may be an opportune time for courageous spiritual
renewal and an exceptional celebration of God's love for humanity. From the whole Church
may there rise up "a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Father, who in his
incomparable love granted us in Christ to be 'fellow citizens with the saints and members
of the household of God'" (Incarnationis Mysterium 6). May we draw comfort from the
certainty expressed by Saint Paul the Apostle: If God did not spare his only Son but gave
him for us, how can he fail to give us everything with him? Who can separate us from the
love of Christ? In every event of life, including death, we can be more than winners, by
virtue of the One who loved us to the Cross (cfr Rom 8: 31-37).
The mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God and that of the Redemption he worked
for all men, constitute the central message of our faith. The Church proclaims this down
through the centuries, walking "amidst the misunderstandings and persecutions of the
world and the consolations of God" (S. Augustine De Civ. Dei 18, 51, 2; PL 41,614)
and she entrusts it to her children as a precious treasure to be safeguarded and shared.
You too, dear young people, are the receivers and the trustees of this heritage:
"This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. And we are proud to profess it,
in Jesus Christ Our Lord" (Roman Pontifical, Rite of Confirmation). We will proclaim
it together on the occasion of the next World Youth Day, in which I hope very many of you
will take part. Rome is a "city-shrine" where the memory of the Apostles Peter
and Paul and other martyrs remind pilgrims of the vocation of every baptized person.
Before the world, in August next year, we will repeat the profession of faith made by
Saint Peter the Apostle: "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal
life" (Jn 6:68) because "you are the Christ the Son of the Living God!" (Mt
Also to you boys and girls who will be adults in the next century, is entrusted the
"Book of Life", which on Christmas Eve this year the Pope, the first to cross
the threshold of the Holy Door, will show to the Church and to the world as the wellspring
of life and hope for the third millennium (Incarnationis Mysterium 8).
May it become your most precious treasure: in the careful study and generous acceptance
of the Word of the Lord, you will find nourishment and strength for your daily life, you
will find motivation for tireless commitment to the building of a civilization of love. 5.
Let us now turn our eyes to the Virgin Mother of God, of whom the city of Rome treasures
one of the earliest and most honoured monuments which the devotion of the Christian people
has dedicated to her: the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.
The Incarnation of the Word and the Redemption of mankind are closely linked with the
Annunciation when God revealed to Mary his plan and found in her, a young person like
yourselves, a heart totally open to the action of his love. For centuries Christian
devotion has recalled every day, with the recitation of the Angelus Domini, God's entrance
into the history of man. May this prayer become your daily meditated prayer.
Mary is the dawn which precedes the rising of the Sun of justice, Christ our Redeemer.
With her "yes" at the Annunciation, as she opened herself completely to Father's
plan, she welcomed and made possible the incarnation of the Son. The first disciple, with
her discreet presence she accompanied Jesus all the way to Calvary and sustained the hope
of the Apostles as they waited for the Resurrection and Pentecost. In the life of the
Church she continues to be mystically the one who precedes the Lord's coming. To Mary, who
fulfills without interruption her ministry as Mother of the Church and of each Christian,
I entrust with confidence the preparation of the 15th World Youth Day. May Most Holy Mary
teach you, dear young people, how to discern the will of the heavenly Father in your life.
May she obtain for you the strength and the wisdom to speak to God and to speak about God.
Through her example may she encourage you to be in the new millennium announcers of hope,
love and peace.
Looking forward to meeting many of you in Rome next year, "I commend you to God,
and to the word of his grace that has power to build you up and to give you your
inheritance among all the sanctified" (Acts 20:32), while, gladly and with great
affection, I bless all of you, with your families and your loved ones.
From the Vatican, June 29th 1999, solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
John Paul II