3. Dear parishioners of St Matthias the Apostle! I am delighted with your community's efficient organization. I am referring especially to the many initiatives for children and young people, which are part of the religious education classes and the programmes of Diocesan Catholic Action. Continue to give your time and energy generously to children, adolescents and young people, who are the Church's hope in the new millennium. Direct all your formative work to teaching them to grow in their knowledge of Jesus, the only Saviour of the world, to helping them to experience God's mercy and to translate what they learn in catechesis and in the experience of community prayer into a strong witness of life. May the meeting this coming Thursday, 25 March, in Paul VI Auditorium in preparation for the 14th World Youth Day be a significant moment on this journey of religious enrichment. Dear young people of this parish, come in large numbers and prepare your spirit, so that this event, which has now become the Pope's meeting with the young people of the Diocese, will be an authentic experience of faith for all.


Is it not true that today, more than ever, the younger generation has a keen desire for truth and are more and more tired of pursuing empty illusions? It is vital to present the Gospel to them with strength and love, and to help them combine faith with life in order to resist the many temptations of the modern world. This is why, like the man born blind in today's Gospel passage, encountering Jesus in a personal way is indispensable.


4. This morning when entering your impressive church, I noted how even the architectural structure has been designed so that the attention of the faithful is focused on the place where the Eucharistic Mystery is celebrated. The Eucharist, the summit and source of Christian life, is Jesus present among us, who makes himself food and drink for our salvation. A true community, an authentic Church, will only be such if it learns to grow in the school of the Eucharist and nourishes itself at the table of the Word and the Bread of eternal life. All of us need to learn how to be transformed by the Eucharistic Mystery. On this subject, our thoughts naturally turn to the International Eucharistic Congress which will take place in Rome from 18 to 25 June 2000.


The Eucharist, the supreme Mystery of love, also calls for a commitment of solidarity and active closeness to those in need. I would like to encourage you to do even more in this important area, in order to be credible witnesses to God's providential love for every human creature. There are many individuals and families among you who are in need of support; there are also poor people who live around the parish. Helping your brothers and sisters in difficulty, opening the arms of your heart to them, helps foster that climate of brotherhood and friendship which the world needs. Only in this way will we be true apostles of Jesus, who left us the commandment of love as a rule of life; only in this way will we be children of light, that is, of Truth and Love.


5. "Walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).


May the words of the Apostle Paul in the second reading be an incentive for us to take this path of conversion and spiritual renewal. By virtue of Baptism, Christians are "filled with light"; they have already received the light of Christ. Therefore, they are called to conform their life to the gift of God: to be children of light!


Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord open the eyes of your faith just as he did with the man born blind, so that you learn to recognize his face in those of your brothers and sisters, especially those of the neediest.


May Mary, who offered Christ to the entire world, help us to welcome him into our families, into our communities and into all the living and working areas of our city.





Sunday, 14 March 1999


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. Our Lenten journey to Easter continues, a journey of conversion guided by the Word of God, which illumines our steps in life. The joy of Christ's Resurrection is anticipated in a way in today's liturgy, which begins with the invitation to rejoice: "Rejoice and be glad, you who mourned; you will find contentment at her consoling breasts" (Entrance Antiphon).


It is the Resurrection that reveals the true value of the Cross, to which we are heading in this Lenten season. It is not a sign of death, but of life; not of frustration, but of hope; not of defeat, but of victory. Indeed - as an ancient liturgical hymn says - the Cross of Christ is our "only hope", for any other promise of salvation is deceptive, since it does not resolve the fundamental human problem: the problem of evil and death.


2. This is why Christians venerate the Cross and recognize it as the sign par excellence of love and hope. Young people too, oriented by nature to life, embrace the Cross of Jesus - like Francis of Assisi and all the saints - because they understand that the mystery of life would be a meaningless riddle without it.


In these months, the World Youth Day Cross is on pilgrimage in the Dioceses of Italy. Today it has arrived in Turin, where the young people of Piedmont and Val d'Aosta have gathered to welcome it in Piazza San Carlo. To them - who have joined us by television - I offer a special greeting and say: do not be afraid to welcome the Cross of Christ into your life! It gives full value and meaning to life's joys and sorrows, helping every person to make his own life a gift of love for God and neighbour.


The Cross teaches us to love everyone, even our enemies, to cooperate in Christ's redemptive work and in the fulfilment of God's kingdom.


3. At the foot of the Cross the Mother of Jesus stands silently in prayer. If we follow Christ in his Passion, Mary will always be at our side. Today I would like to entrust the Lenten journey of the whole Church to the Blessed Virgin. I would particularly like to entrust the efforts of young people to her, so that they will always be ready to welcome the Cross of Christ. The sign of our salvation and the banner of final victory, the Cross is the witness, dear young people, which you must receive from the generations that have gone before you, so that you can carry it into the third millennium as true apostles of the Gospel.



After leading the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday, 14 March, the Holy Father made an appeal for peace in Indonesia.


For several months the city of Ambon, capital of the Maluku islands of Indonesia, has been the scene of violent clashes which have upset the traditional harmony between Christians and Muslims. Serious ethnic and religious tensions have also occurred in other parts of Indonesia.


In view of these disturbing events, I make a pressing appeal to everyone - especially those who are fomenting the disorders - to forsake violence, the cause of countless sufferings, and to return to the paths of harmony. I would also like to express a word of comfort to the victims and my spiritual closeness to the entire Indonesian people, upon whom I invoke the Lord's blessing.



Fourth Sunday of Lent
10 March 2002


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. "Laetare, Jerusalem (Rejoice, Jerusalem)...". With the words of the prophet Isaiah, the Church invites us to rejoice today, at the midpoint of our Lenten penitential journey. Joy and light are the dominant theme of today's liturgy. The Gospel narrates the story of "a man born blind" (John 9,1). Seeing him, Jesus made clay with his saliva, spread the clay on his eyes and told him:  "Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing" (John 9,6-7).


The man born blind represents the human person marred by sin, who desires to know the truth about himself and his personal destiny, but is prevented from doing so by congenital illness. Only Jesus can cure him:  He is "the light of the world" (John 9,5). Handing himself over to him, every human being who is spiritually blind from birth has the fresh possibility of "coming to the light", namely to supernatural life.

Along with the healing of the blind man, the Gospel highlights the unbelief of the Pharisees, who refuse to acknowledge the miracle, since Jesus worked it on the sabbath, in their judgement violating the Mosaic law. Thus, an eloquent paradox emerges, that Christ himself sums up with the words:  "I have come into the world for judgement so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind" (John 9,39).


For the one who meets Christ, there is no other alternative: either he recognizes his need of him and of his light, or he chooses to do without. In the case of doing without Christ, the same presumption prevents both the one who thinks he is just before God and the one who considers himself an atheist, from being open to authentic conversion.

Dear brothers and sisters, may no one close his soul to Christ! He gives to the one who accepts him the light of faith, the light that can transform the heart, and, consequently, mentalities, social, political, and economic situations dominated by sin. "... I do believe, Lord!" (John 9,38). With the man born blind, may each of us be ready humbly to profess our own attachment to him.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary who is so totally pervaded by the radiance of divine grace obtain the light of Christ for us.



After leading the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said in his language to the Polish pilgrims: 


I would like to greet the Primate, Cardinal Józef Glemp, Cardinal Franciszek Macharski and the Polish archbishops and bishops, together with the delegations sent by the new metropolitans of the new Dioceses. Let us thank God together for the fruits that have matured in ten years of sowing the Gospel in the new structures, which have been set up in the territory of our homeland for the good of Poland and of all its inhabitants. May reciprocal love and concern for every person be the mainspring of the Church in Poland. The Holy See is with you. God bless you all!



Fourth Sunday of Lent, 6 March 2005


The Holy Father made a brief appearance at a window on the 10th floor of the Gemelli Polyclinic where he is hospitalized. He waved and made the sign of the cross, blessing the faithful who had gathered below to see him.
At the Vatican, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, Substitute of the Secretariat of State, read the Pope's Reflection to the faithful, prior to leading the recitation of the Angelus and imparting the final Blessing to the faithful on the Pope's behalf.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. Today too I would like to renew my gratitude for the many signs of affection I have received. I am thinking in particular of the numerous Cardinals, Bishops, priests and groups of the faithful, of the Ambassadors and ecumenical Delegations who have come to the Gemelli Polyclinic in these days.


I would like to express special gratitude for the closeness of believers of other religions, Jews and Muslims in particular. Some of them have wanted to come and pray here at the hospital. This is a comforting sign to me for which I thank God.


2. Together let us continue our preparation for Easter, offering our sufferings to God for the good of humanity and for our own purification. In today's Gospel, as he cures the man born blind, Christ presents himself as "the light of the world" (John 9: 5). He came to open human eyes to the light of faith. Yes, dear friends, faith is the light that guides us on our way through life, it is the flame that comforts us in difficult times.


3. When a child is born we say that the baby "comes into the light". For believers, who are born to supernatural life through Baptism, Lent is a favourable time to "come into the light", that is, to be reborn in the Spirit, renewing the grace and commitment of Baptism.

May Mary Most Holy help us to obtain from Christ the gift of an ever stronger and clearer faith, so that we may be consistent and courageous witnesses of his Gospel.



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13 April 2014