Keeping the Spirit of the Jubilee Alive|
One Year Ago Today:
100,000 YOUTHS DEFY COLD AND RAIN TO SEE POPE
Largest Event Organized by Church in Israel
JERUSALEM, MAR 24 (ZENIT.org).- Last night, thousands of youths spent
the night in the rain and cold in order to be able to celebrate Mass
with the Holy Father today. Those who could found shelter in buses,
schools and even in kibbutzes. They came to the Mount of the Beatitudes
to take part in a multitudinous meeting organized by the Church in
Israel. Some estimates say there were as many as 120,000 present, and
even the most conservative guesses stand at 90,000. In the past, perhaps
only Yitzhak Rabin's funeral brought so many people together in this
While they waited for the Pope, Kiko ArgŁello, founder of the
Neo-Catechumenal Way, sang and played the guitar along with a group of
youths, who also sang and played musical instruments. Groups of boys and
girls danced in a circle. The commentator on Israeli television wondered
why so many youths had come to see the Pope.
Half of them, about 50,000, were members of Neo-Catechumenal communities
from around the world. On these hills, the Way has established the
"Domus Galileae" (House of Galilee), which is an important center for
the formation of priests and seminarians. It was inaugurated today by
the Pope before he celebrated the Mass. The other half came from other
movements and ecclesial institutions, such as Communion and Liberation,
the Focolares, Opus Dei, as well as parishes and dioceses from different
parts of the world. There were 80 countries represented. Given his
presence in the Holy land, the exhausting wait, and the celebration,
John Paul II wanted to give the world a very strong message: peace in
the Middle East needs a new generation. A great surprise was the
significant participation of Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims, all
of whom live with the local Christian communities.
The setting could not have been better. On this Mount (rather than a
Mount it is a 15-meter high mountain), Jesus proclaimed the most
illogical Law: "Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the meek," "Blessed
are those who are persecuted ..." This Law can only be understood by
love. John Paul II repeated this message, which has given life to
Christians for 2000 years, and the youth responded with that generosity
which has always characterized their meetings with the Pontiff.
John Paul II celebrated Mass in a gigantic red balcony, with an enormous
black curtain, that was a reminder of the Exodus and the passage of the
people of Israel through the desert. 12 Cardinals, 100 Bishops and 1,200
The presence of so many youths seem to take years off the Pope who,
during the homily, described the meeting as a trial run for the World
Youth Day, which will be held in Rome in August.
The Holy Father vividly described the spiritual combat that engages
every youth. On one hand, he spoke about the message of Jesus'
Beatitudes, which exalts the poor in spirit, those who weep, those who
hunger and thirst for justice, those who are persecuted .... On the
other, he referred to that voice that every person hears in his
interior: "'Blessed are the proud and violent, those who prosper at any
cost, who are unscrupulous, pitiless, devious, who make war not peace,
and persecute those who stand in their way.' And this voice seems to
make sense in a world where the violent often triumph and the devious
seem to succeed. 'Yes,' says the voice of evil, 'they are the ones who
Today, as he did 2000 years ago, Christ calls. "He calls you now. Which
voice will the young people of the 21st century choose to follow? To put
your faith in Jesus means choosing to believe what he says, no matter
how strange it may seem, and choosing to reject the claims of evil, no
matter how sensible or attractive they may seem," the Holy Father
"To be good Christians may seem beyond your strength in today's world.
But Jesus does not stand by and leave you alone to face the challenge.
He is always with you to transform your weakness into strength," John
Paul II continued.
The Pope today placed the same mission in the hands of youth that Jesus
himself entrusted to his disciples. "Now, at the dawn of the Third
Millennium, it is your turn. It is your turn to go out into the world to
preach the message of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. Young
people of the Holy Land, young people of the world: answer the Lord with
a heart that is willing and open!"
The youths responded "yes," to the Pope's invitation, and released 12
doves, a symbol of the 12 Apostles who, 2000 years ago, went out from
here to the whole world with the Gospel message.
In the afternoon, John Paul II met Prime Minister Ehud Barak in the
house of the Shrine of the Mount of the Beatitudes in Korazim. He then
went to Tabgha, which is on the northeastern shore of Lake Tiberias,
where he visited the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves. According
to tradition, the rock on which Jesus placed the loaves was made into
the altar of a church. The ruins of that church, built in 350 A.D., are
to the right of the present altar, entrusted to the Benedictines.
The Holy Father then visited the Church of Peter's Primacy,
reconstructed in 1933 by the Franciscan Custodians of the Holy Land.
From this Church he went to Capernaum, located on Lake Tiberias, where
he saw the Shrine of St. Peter's House, which was inaugurated on June
29, 1990 by Cardinal Simon Lourdusamy and is also entrusted to the
Custodians of the Holy Land.
Following these visits, which were of a private character, John Paul II
returned by helicopter to the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem to dine
and spend the night.
PAPAL HOMILY TO YOUTH ON MOUNT OF BEATITUDES
March 24, 2000
"Consider your calling, brothers and sisters" (1 Corinthians 1:26).
1. Today these words of Saint Paul are addressed to all of us who have
come here to the Mount of the Beatitudes. We sit on this hill like the
first disciples, and we listen to Jesus. In the stillness, we hear his
gentle and urgent voice, as gentle as this land itself and as urgent as
a call to choose between life and death.
How many generations before us have been deeply moved by the Sermon on
the Mount! How many young people down the centuries have gathered around
Jesus to learn the words of eternal life, as you are gathered here
today! How many young hearts have been inspired by the power of his
personality and the compelling truth of his message! It is wonderful
that you are here!
Thank you, Archbishop Boutros Mouallem, for your kind welcome. Please
take my prayerful greeting to the whole Greek-Melkite community over
which you preside. I extend my fraternal good wishes to the many
Cardinals, to Patriarch Sabbah, and to many Bishops present and all the
priests. I greet the members of the Latin community, including the
Hebrew-speaking faithful, the Maronite community, the Syrian community,
the Armenian community, the Chaldean community, and all our brothers and
sisters of the other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities. I
extend a special word of thanks to our Muslim friends, to the members of
the Jewish faith and to the Druse community.
This great gathering is like a rehearsal for the World Youth Day to be
held in August in Rome! The young man who spoke promised that you will
come. Young people of Israel, of the Palestinian Territories, of Jordan
and Cyprus; young people of the Middle East, of Africa and Asia, of
Europe, America and Oceania! With love and affection I greet each one of
2. The first to hear the Beatitudes of Jesus bore in their hearts the
memory of another mountain ≠ Mount Sinai. Just a month ago, I had the
grace of going there, where God spoke to Moses and gave the Law,
"written with the finger of God" (Ex 31:18) on the tablets of stone.
These two mountains ≠ Sinai and the Mount of the Beatitudes ≠ offer us
the roadmap of our Christian life and a summary of our responsibilities
to God and neighbour. The Law and the Beatitudes together mark the path
of the following of Christ and the royal road to spiritual maturity and
The Ten Commandments of Sinai may seem negative: "You will have no false
gods before Me; . . . do not kill; do not commit adultery; do not steal;
do not bear false witness..." (Ex 20:3, 13-16). But in fact they are
supremely positive. Moving beyond the evil they name, they point the way
to the law of love which is the first and greatest of the commandments:
"You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and
all your mind. . . You will love your neighbour as yourself" (Mt 22:37,
39). Jesus Himself says that He came not to abolish but to fulfil the
Law (cf. Mt 5:17). His message is new but it does not destroy what went
before; it leads what went before to its fullest potential. Jesus
teaches that the way of love brings the Law to fulfilment (cf. Gal
5:14). And He taught this enormously important truth on this hill here
3. "'Blessed are you!', He says, 'all you who are poor in spirit, gentle
and merciful, you who mourn, who care for what is right, who are pure in
heart, who make peace, you who are persecuted! Blessed are you!'" But the
words of Jesus may seem strange. It is strange that Jesus exalts those
whom the world generally regards as weak. He says to them, "Blessed are
you who seem to be losers, because you are the true winners: the kingdom
of Heaven is yours!" Spoken by Him Who is "gentle and humble in heart"
(Mt 11:29), these words present a challenge which demands a deep and
abiding metanoia of the spirit, a great change of heart.
You young people will understand why this change of heart is necessary!
Because you are aware of another voice within you and all around you, a
contradictory voice. It is a voice which says, "Blessed are the proud
and violent, those who prosper at any cost, who are unscrupulous,
pitiless, devious, who make war not peace, and persecute those who stand
in their way". And this voice seems to make sense in a world where the
violent often triumph and the devious seem to succeed. "Yes", says the
voice of evil, "they are the ones who win. Happy are they!"
4. Jesus offers a very different message. Not far from this very place
Jesus called His first disciples, as he calls you now. His call has
always demanded a choice between the two voices competing for your
hearts even now on this hill, the choice between good and evil, between
life and death. Which voice will the young people of the twenty-first
century choose to follow? To put your faith in Jesus means choosing to
believe what He says, no matter how strange it may seem, and choosing to
reject the claims of evil, no matter how sensible or attractive they may
In the end, Jesus does not merely speak the Beatitudes. He lives the
Beatitudes. He is the Beatitudes. Looking at Him you will see what it
means to be poor in spirit, gentle and merciful, to mourn, to care for
what is right, to be pure in heart, to make peace, to be persecuted.
This is why he has the right to say, "Come, follow Me!" He does not say
simply, "Do what I say". He says, "Come, follow Me!"
You hear His voice on this hill, and you believe what He says. But like
the first disciples at the Sea of Galilee, you must leave your boats and
nets behind, and that is never easy ≠ especially when you face an
uncertain future and are tempted to lose faith in your Christian
heritage. To be good Christians may seem beyond your strength in today's
world. But Jesus does not stand by and leave you alone to face the
challenge. He is always with you to transform your weakness into
strength. Trust Him when He says: "My grace is enough for you, for My
power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9)!
5. The disciples spent time with the Lord. They came to know and love
Him deeply. They discovered the meaning of what the Apostle Peter once
said to Jesus: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal
life" (Jn 6:68). They discovered that the words of eternal life are the
words of Sinai and the words of the Beatitudes. And this is the message
which they spread everywhere.
At the moment of His Ascension Jesus gave His disciples a mission and
this reassurance: "All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to
Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . . and behold I
am with you always, until the end of the age" (Mt 28:18-20). For two
thousand years Christ's followers have carried out this mission. Now, at
the dawn of the Third Millennium, it is your turn. It is your turn to go
out into the world to preach the message of the Ten Commandments and the
Beatitudes. When God speaks, He speaks of things which have the greatest
importance for each person, for the people of the twenty-first century
no less than those of the first century. The Ten Commandments and the
Beatitudes speak of truth and goodness, of grace and freedom: of all
that is necessary to enter into Christ's Kingdom. Now it is your turn to
be courageous apostles of that Kingdom!
Young people of the Holy Land, Young people of the world: answer the
Lord with a heart that is willing and open! Willing and open, like the
heart of the greatest daughter of Galilee, Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
How did she respond? She said: "I am the servant of the Lord, let it be
done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38).
O Lord Jesus Christ, in this place that You knew and loved so well,
listen to these generous young hearts! Continue to teach these young
people the truth of the Commandments and the Beatitudes! Make them
joyful witnesses to Your truth and convinced apostles of Your Kingdom!
Be with them always, especially when following You and the Gospel
becomes difficult and demanding! You will be their strength; You will be
O Lord Jesus, You have made these young people Your friends: keep them
for ever close to You! Amen.
PAPAL MASS AT MOUNT OF THE BEATITUDES
JERUSALEM (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass on the
Mount of the Beatitudes on March 24, with an estimated 100,000 young
people in attendance.
The outdoor location for the Mass, on the hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee,
was soaked by rain on the previous day. Nevertheless, thousands of young
people gathered there, beginning on the night before the celebration,
bringing plastic sheets and cardboard boxes to protect themselves from the
mud. The Fides news service observed that the enormous crowd-- possibly
the largest in Israel's history-- was "a sort of dress rehearsal for the next
World Youth Day in August in Rome."
Most of the congregation came from Israel and the Palestinian territories,
although thousands also came from nearby countries such as Lebanon and
Syria. There were also groups arriving on pilgrimages from Europe (an
estimated 17,000 from Italy, 9,000 from Spain) and even American (10,000)
and Asian (1,000) countries.
Dozens of lay groups were in evidence, among them Communion and
Liberation, Opus Dei, and Fololare. But the largest single presence was that of
the Neo-Catechumenate Way, which is building a large new seminary and
study center nearby in the hills of Galilee. As he arrived at the Mount of the
Beatitudes, approaching from the nearby town of Korazim where his
helicopter had landed, Pope John Paul stopped briefly to see the construction
site of the study center, which is known as Domus Galilaeae. Kiko Arguello,
the founder of the Neo-Catechumenate Way, led in the singing for the young
people, playing his guitar, and joined by a variety of other performers on
"It is marvelous to see you here today," the Pope told the young crowd
before the Mass. He too compared the occasion to the coming World Youth
In his homily, the Pontiff said that the Sermon on the Mount constitutes a
challenge from Christ, prodding the believer toward "a great conversion of
the heart." He continued, speaking with emphasis: "You young people, you
know why this change of heart is necessary." He observed that the young
people would understand how the voice of conscience conflicts with the
message of a materialistic society.
Unlike those who suggest that happiness can be gained by self-gratification,
the Pope explained, "Jesus offers a very different message" in the Sermon on
the Mount. "And moreover, He was not content to proclaim the beatitudes. He
"Which voice will the young people of the 21st century follow?" the Pope
asked. It is not easy to follow the example of Christ, he conceded, but he
urged his young listeners: "It is up to you, today, to be courageous apostles of
After celebrating Mass on the Mount of the
Beatitudes on March 24, Pope John Paul II made a short interruption of his
pilgrimage through the Holy Land to issue a statement of support for peace
talks involving Ethiopia and Eritrea.
During his visit to Galilee, the Pontiff said, "my thoughts turn hopefully
toward the initiatives taken by the Organization for African Unity to
reestablish peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea." The Pope indicated that
these peace talks are now at a "very delicate stage," and he asked for
prayers "that a just solution can be found in that part of the world."
POPE VISITS CAPHARNAUM, HOME OF ST. PETER
JERUSALEM (CWNews.com) -- During the afternoon of March 24, Pope John
Paul II continued his pilgrimage through the Holy Land by visiting three
sites linked to the New Testament, and particularly to St. Peter.
First the Pontiff spent some time at prayer in a 20th-century church on the
site of the multiplication of the loaves. The new church, built over the ruins
of an early Christian sanctuary, is now served by Benedictine monks. Built in
the Byzantine style, the church is decorated with unusually fine mosaics,
including one 6th-century piece that depicts the Gospel story of how Jesus
fed the crowd. One of the Benedictine monks showed the Pontiff an ancient
key, dating back to the end of the 1st century, which was found in the ruins
of what is believed to be St. Peter's home. Father Bargil Pixner, a renowned
archeologist, remarked: "This is the key to the first Vatican!"
Next the Pope visited another church, entrusted to the Franciscans of the
Holy Land, built on the spot where, after the Resurrection, Christ told Peter
to "feed my sheep." This church-- on the shore of the Sea of Galilee-- is
dedicated to the primacy of Peter. For that reason, the Pope was particularly
insistent on including it in his pilgrimage.
Finally, John Paul visited Capharnaum, where St. Peter lived as a fisherman
before leaving that work behind to follow Christ. There he saw the ruins of
another home where Peter once lived, and of the synagogue where Jesus
After these three visits, as night began to fall over Galilee, the Pope took
another helicopter ride back to Jerusalem where he would spend the night.
March 24, 2001
volume 12, no. 83
JUBILEE MOMENTS TO REMEMBER