VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II is calling on youth to bear witness to the world that only Christ can give true peace of heart to men and women, families and nations.
This conviction is reflected in the Pope’s message, published today, for the 18th World Youth Day, which will be celebrated at the diocesan level worldwide on Palm Sunday, April 13.
The theme for this year’s World Youth Day, “Behold, Your Mother!” (John 19:27), is linked to the current Year of the Rosary.
“Jesus, before he died, gave the Apostle John the most precious gift he had: his Mother, Mary, … [who] at the foot of the cross, in John, received the whole of humanity in her heart,” the Pope says in his message.
“You, dear young people, are more or less that same age as John, and he himself wanted to be with Jesus. Today it is to you that Christ asks expressly to receive Mary ‘in your home,’ that you welcome her … [to] learn from her … [the] interior disposition to listen and the attitude of humility and generosity,” the Pope says.
Stating that Christianity is not a personal opinion nor does it consist in vain words, the Holy Father adds, “Mary is given to us to help us have a more authentic, more personal relation with Jesus.”
“Christianity is Christ! It is a Person, it is the Living One! To encounter Jesus, to love him, and to make him loved — this is the Christian vocation,” John Paul II stresses.
The “solitude, failures and disappointments in personal life, difficulties in becoming part of the adult and professional world, separations and deaths in families, the violence of wars and the death of innocent people” are situations of suffering faced by young people today, the Pope continues.
“Know, however, that in difficult moments, which are not lacking in anyone’s life, you are not alone” like John at the foot of the cross, the Holy Father says. “Jesus gives you also to his Mother so that she will comfort you with her tenderness.”
In this context, John Paul II invites youths to give themselves to Mary with full confidence. In this way, they will shine “with the beauty of Christ. Open to the breath of the Spirit, you will be intrepid apostles (…), you will learn to put (Christ) in the first place in your life, to direct your thoughts and actions to him.”
In the Year of the Rosary, John Paul II invites young people to pray it, because it is a way of “learning to contemplate Jesus with the eyes of his Mother, to love Jesus with the heart of his Mother.”
“Don’t be ashamed to recite the rosary,” the Pope says, encouraging young people to pray it “on the way to school, university or work, on the street or on public transportation; recite it among yourselves, in groups, movements and associations, and don’t hesitate to suggest praying it at home” with the family, because it “revives and consolidates the ties” among its members.
“This prayer will help you to be strong in faith, constant in charity, joyful and persevering in hope,” he says.
John Paul II also exhorts young people to flee from egoism and sloth. “Now more than ever, it is urgent that you be the morning watchmen.”
“Mankind has a decisive need for the witness of courageous and free young people who dare to go countercurrent and proclaim strongly and enthusiastically their faith in God, Lord and Savior,” he says.
The Pope announced the theme of the 19th World Youth Day (2004), “We Want to See Jesus” (John 12:21), and that of Cologne, Germany, in 2005, “We Have Come to Adore Him” (Matthew 2:2).