VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In a message to the world’s young people, John Paul II says there is no Christianity without an encounter with Christ.
The Pope also spells out the means to meet Jesus, in his message written for the local World Youth Day to be observed in various dioceses on Palm Sunday, April 4. The Vatican press office published notice of the message today.
The theme of the papal message echoes the request that some Greeks made to the apostles, “We Want to See Jesus.” The Pope articulates his desire that young people undertake such a search.
“Above all, create silence in your interior,” he tells them in his message. “Let that ardent desire to see God arise from the depth of your hearts, a desire that at times is suffocated by the noise of the world and the seduction of pleasures.”
“Let that desire emerge and you will have the wonderful experience of an encounter with Jesus," the Holy Father adds. “Christianity is not simply a doctrine; it is a meeting, in faith, with God, present in our history with the incarnation of Jesus.”
The Pope then presents the means with which young people can encounter the living Christ.
“Seek him with the eyes of the flesh in the events of life and in the face of others; but seek him also with the eyes of the soul through prayer and meditation of the Word of God, as contemplation of the face of Christ is centered above all in what holy Scripture says of him,” John Paul II writes.
The Eucharist is the other means the Pope presents, as well as the discovery of Christ “in your brothers and sisters, in particular, in the poorest.”
“The world is in urgent need of the great prophetic sign of fraternal charity,” the Holy Father writes. “It is not sufficient, in fact, to ‘talk’ about Jesus; in a certain sense, he must be made to be ‘seen’ with the eloquent testimony of one’s life.”
“To love is not just a feeling; it is an act of the will that consists in preferring in a constant way the good of the other before one’s own,” the Pope explains.
He invites young people to encounter Christ “in the Church,” which “is as the prolongation of his saving action in time and space.”
“In her and through her Jesus continues to make himself visible today, and to make men encounter him,” John Paul II explains. The Pope encourages young people to make of their parishes, movements and communities places of welcome.
“God makes use of human friendship to lead hearts to the source of divine charity,” he adds. “Feel yourselves responsible for the evangelization of your friends and of all those of your age.”