POPEíS MESSAGE FOR 2005 WORLD YOUTH DAY
Will Be Held in August in Cologne, Germany
VATICAN CITY, AUG. 27, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is the John Paul IIís
message for the next World Youth Day which will be held in Cologne,
Germany, from Aug. 16-21, 2005, with the theme "We Have Come to Worship
Him" (Mt 2:2).
* * *
"We have come to worship him" (Mt 2:2)
My dear young people!
1. This year we have celebrated the 19th World Youth Day, meditating on
the desire expressed by some Greeks who had gone to Jerusalem for the
Passover: "We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12:21). And here we are now, making
our way to Cologne where, in August 2005, the 20th World Youth Day is to
"We have come to worship him" (Mt 2:2): this is the theme of the next
World Youth Day. It is a theme that enables young people from every
continent to follow in spirit the path taken by the Magi whose relics,
according to a pious tradition, are venerated in this very city, and to
meet, as they did, the Messiah of all nations.
It is true to say that the light of Christ had already opened the minds
and the hearts of the Magi. "They went their way" (Mt 2:9), says the
Evangelist, setting out boldly along unknown paths on a long, and by no
means easy, journey. They did not hesitate to leave everything behind in
order to follow the star that they had seen in the East (cf Mt 2:2).
Imitating the Magi, you young people are also making preparations to set
out on a "journey" from every region of the world to go to Cologne. It
is important for you not only to concern yourselves with the practical
arrangements for World Youth Day, but first of all you must carefully
prepare yourselves spiritually, in an atmosphere of faith and listening
to the Word of God.
2. "And the star... went before them, till it came to rest over the
place where the child was" (Mt 2:9). The Magi reached Bethlehem because
they had obediently allowed themselves to be guided by the star. Indeed,
"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy" (Mt
2:10). It is important, my dear friends, to learn to observe the signs
with which God is calling us and guiding us. When we are conscious of
being led by Him, our heart experiences authentic and deep joy as well
as a powerful desire to meet Him and a persevering strength to follow
"And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother" (Mt
2:11). There is nothing extraordinary about this at first sight. Yet
that Child was different from any other: He is the only Son of God, yet
He emptied Himself of His glory (cf Phil 2:7) and came to earth to die
on the Cross. He came down among us and became poor in order to reveal
to us His divine glory, which we shall contemplate fully in heaven, our
blessed home. Who could have invented a greater sign of love? We are
left in awe before the mystery of a God who lowered himself to take on
our human condition, to the point of giving His life for us on the Cross
(cf Phil 2:6-8). In His poverty, - as Saint Paul reminds us - "though he
was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you
might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9), and came to offer salvation to sinners.
How can we give thanks to God for such magnanimous goodness?
3. The Magi found Jesus at "BÍth-lehem" which means "house of bread". In
the humble stable in Bethlehem on some straw lay the "grain of wheat"
who, by dying, would bring forth "much fruit" (cf Jn 12:24). When
speaking of Himself and His saving mission in the course of His public
life, Jesus would later use the image of bread. He would say "I am the
bread of life", "I am the bread which came down from heaven", "the bread
that I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh". (Jn 6:
Faithfully pursuing the path of our Redeemer from the poverty of the
Crib to His abandonment on the Cross we can better understand the
mystery of His love which redeems humanity. The Child, laid by Mary in
the manger, is the Man-God we shall see nailed to the Cross. The same
Redeemer is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. In the stable at
Bethlehem He allowed himself to be worshipped under the humble outward
appearances of a newborn baby, by Mary, by Joseph and by the shepherds;
in the consecrated Host we adore Him sacramentally present in his body,
blood, soul and godhead, and He offers himself to us as the food of
eternal life. The Mass then becomes a truly loving encounter with the
One who gave himself wholly for us. Do not hesitate, my dear young
friends, to respond to Him when He invites you "to the wedding feast of
the Lamb" (cf Rev 19:9). Listen to him, prepare yourselves properly and
draw close to the Sacrament of the Altar, particularly in this Year of
the Euc harist (October 2004-2005) which I have proclaimed for the whole
4. "They fell down and worshipped Him" (Mt 2:11). While the Magi
acknowledged and worshipped the baby that Mary cradled in her arms as
the One awaited by the nations and foretold by prophets, today we can
also worship Him in the Eucharist, and acknowledge Him as our Creator,
our only Lord and Savior.
"Opening their treasures they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense
and myrrh" (Mt 2:11). The gifts that the Magi offered the Messiah
symbolized true worship. With gold, they emphasized His Royal Godhead;
with incense, they acknowledged Him as the priest of the New Covenant;
by offering Him myrrh, they celebrated the prophet who would shed His
own blood to reconcile humanity with the Father.
My dear young people, you too offer to the Lord the gold of your lives,
namely, your freedom to follow Him out of love, responding faithfully to
His call; let the incense of your fervent prayer rise up to him, in
praise of His glory; offer Him your myrrh, that is your affection of
total gratitude to Him, true Man, who loved us to the point of dying as
a criminal on Golgotha.
5. Be worshippers of the only true God, giving Him pride of place in
your lives! Idolatry is an ever-present temptation. Sadly, there are
those who seek the solution to their problems in religious practices
that are incompatible with the Christian faith. There is a strong urge
to believe in the facile myths of success and power; it is dangerous to
accept the fleeting ideas of the sacred which present God in the form of
cosmic energy, or in any other manner that is inconsistent with Catholic
My dear young people, do not yield to false illusions and passing fads
which so frequently leave behind a tragic spiritual vacuum! Reject the
seduction of wealth, consumerism and the subtle violence sometimes used
by the mass media.
Worshipping the true God is an authentic act of resistance to all forms
of idolatry. Worship Christ: He is the Rock on which to build your
future and a world of greater justice and solidarity. Jesus is the
Prince of peace: the source of forgiveness and reconciliation, who can
make brothers and sisters of all the members of the human family.
6. "And they departed to their own country by another way" (Mt 2:12).
The Gospel tells us that after their meeting with Christ, the Magi
returned home "by another way". This change of route can symbolize the
conversion to which all those who encounter Jesus are called, in order
to become the true worshippers that He desires (cf Jn 4: 23-24). This
entails imitating the way He acted by becoming, as the apostle Paul
writes, "a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God". The apostle
then adds that we must not be conformed to the mentality of this world,
but be transformed by the renewal of our minds, to "prove what is the
will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (cf Rm 12: 1-2).
Listening to Christ and worshipping Him leads us to make courageous
choices, to take what are sometimes heroic decisions. Jesus is
demanding, because He wishes our genuine happiness. He calls some to
give up everything to follow Him in the priestly or consecrated life.
Those who hear this invitation must not be afraid to say "yes" and to
generously set about following Him as His disciples. But in addition to
vocations to special forms of consecration there is also the specific
vocation of all baptized Christians: that is also a vocation to that
"high standard" of ordinary Christian living which is expressed in
holiness (cf Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). When we meet Christ and accept
His Gospel, life changes and we are driven to communicate our experience
There are so many of our contemporaries who do not yet know the love of
God or who are seeking to fill their hearts with trifling substitutes.
It is therefore urgently necessary for us to be witnesses to love
contemplated in Christ. The invitation to take part in World Youth Day
is also extended to you, dear friends, who are not baptized or who do
not identify with the Church. Are you not perhaps yearning for the
Absolute and in search of "something" to give a meaning to your lives?
Turn to Christ and you will not be let down.
7. Dear young people, the Church needs genuine witnesses for the new
evangelization: men and women whose lives have been transformed by
meeting with Jesus, men and women who are capable of communicating this
experience to others. The Church needs saints. All are called to
holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity. Many have gone
before us along this path of Gospel heroism, and I urge you to turn
often to them to pray for their intercession. By meeting in Cologne you
will learn to become better acquainted with some of them, such as St
Boniface, the apostle of Germany, the Saints of Cologne, and in
particular Ursula, Albert the Great, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
(Edith Stein) and Blessed Adolph Kolping. Of these I would like to
specifically mention St Albert and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross who,
with the same interior attitude as the Magi, were passionate seekers
after the truth. They had no hesitation in placing their intellectual
abilities at the service of the fa ith, thereby demonstrating that faith
and reason are linked and seek each other.
My dear young people as you move forward in spirit towards Cologne, the
Pope will accompany you with his prayers. May Mary, "Eucharistic woman"
and Mother of Wisdom, support you along the way, enlighten your
decisions, and teach you to love what is true, good and beautiful. May
she lead you all to her Son, who alone can satisfy the innermost
yearnings of the human mind and heart.
Go with my blessing!
From Castel Gandolfo, August 6, 2004
IOANNES PAULUS II