8TH WORLD YOUTH DAY
MESSAGE of the HOLY FATHER POPE JOHN
came that they might have life, and have it to the full"
Dear Young People,
Following our meetings in Rome, Buenos Aires, Santiago de
Compostela and Czestochowa, our pilgrimage through
contemporary history continues. The next stop will be in
Denver, in the heart of the United States, in the Rocky
Mountains of Colorado, where in August 1993 the Eighth
World Youth Day will be celebrated. Together with many
young Americans, young people from every nation will
gather together, as on previous occasions, as if to
symbolize the living faith, or at least the most urgent
questionings of the world of youth from the five
These regular celebrations are not meant to be mere
rituals, justified merely by the fact that they are
repeated; in fact, they spring from a deep-seated need
originating in the human heart and reflected in the life
of the pilgrim and missionary Church.
The World Youth Days and Gatherings are providential
opportunities to break our journey for a while: they
enable young people to examine their deepest aspirations,
to heighten their sense of belonging to the Church, to
proclaim their common faith in the crucified and risen
Christ with increasing joy and courage. They provide an
opportunity for many young people to make bold and
enlightened choices which can help steer the future
course of history under the powerful but gentle guidance
of the Holy Spirit.
We are witnessing a "succession of empires" in
our world the repeated attempts to create
political unity which particular individuals have tried
to impose on others. The results are there for all to see.
True and lasting unity cannot be created by coercion and
violence. It can be achieved only by building on the
foundations of a common heritage of values accepted and
shared by all, values such as respect for the dignity of
the human person, a willingness to welcome life, the
defence of human rights, and openness to transcendence
and the realm of the spirit.
In view of this, and as a response to the challenges of
our changing times, the World Youth Gathering is meant to
be a first step and a proposal of a new unity, a unity
which transcends the political order but enlightens it.
It is based on awareness that only the Creator of the
human heart can adequately satisfy its deepest yearnings.
World Youth Day is thus a proclamation of Christ who says
to the men and women of our own century too: "I came
that they might have life, and have it to the full"
And so we come
to the heart of the theme that will guide our reflections
throughout this year of preparation for the next World
Different languages have different words to express what
no one would ever wish to lose under any circumstances,
what constitutes the expectation, longing and hope of all
mankind. But there is no better word than "life"
to sum up comprehensively the greatest aspiration of all
humanity. "Life" indicates the sum total of all
the goods that people desire, and at the same time what
makes them possible, obtainable and lasting.
Is not the history of mankind deeply marked by a frantic
and tragic search for something or someone able to free
it from death and guarantee life?
Human existence has its moments of crisis and weariness,
despondency and gloom. Such a sense of dissatisfaction is
clearly reflected in much of today's literature and films.
In the light of this distress, it is easier to understand
the particular difficulties of adolescents and young
people stepping out with uncertainty to encounter all the
fascinating promises and dark uncertainties which are
part of life.
Jesus came to provide the ultimate answer to the yearning
for life and for the infinite which his Heavenly Father
had poured into our hearts when he created us. At the
climax of revelation, the incarnate Word proclaims,"I
am the Life" (Jn 14:6), and "I came that they
might have life" (Jn 10:10). But what life? Jesus'
intention was clear: the very life of God, which
surpasses all the possible aspirations of the human heart
(cf. 1 Cor 2:9). The fact is that through the grace of
Baptism we are already God's children (cf. 1 Jn 3:1-2).
Jesus came to meet men and women, to heal the sick and
the suffering, to free those possessed by devils and to
raise the dead: he gave himself on the cross and rose
again from the dead, revealing that he is the Lord of
life: the author and the source of life without end.
experience tells us that life is marked by sin and
threatened by death, despite the desire for good which
beats in our hearts and the desire for life which courses
through our veins. However little heed we pay to
ourselves and to the frustrations which life brings us,
we discover that everything within us impels us to
transcend ourselves, urges us to overcome the temptation
of superficiality or despair. It is then that human
beings are called to become disciples of that other One
who infinitely transcends them, in order to enter at last
into true life.
There are also false prophets and false teachers of how
to live. First of all there are those who teach people to
leave the body, time and space in order to be able to
enter into what they call "true life". They
condemn creation, and in the name of deceptive
spirituality they lead thousands of young people along
the paths of an impossible liberation which eventually
leaves them even more isolated, victims of their own
illusions and of the evil in their own lives.
Seemingly at the opposite extreme, there are the teachers
of the "fleeting moment", who invite people to
give free rein to every instinctive urge or longing, with
the result that individuals fall prey to a sense of
anguish and anxiety leading them to seek refuge in false,
artificial paradises, such as that of drugs.
There are also those who teach that the meaning of life
lies solely in the quest for success, the accumulation of
wealth, the development of personal abilities, without
regard for the needs of others or respect for values, at
times not even for the fundamental value of life itself.
These and other kinds of false teachers of life, also
numerous in the modern world, propose goals which not
only fail to bring satisfaction but often intensify and
exacerbate the thirst that burns in the human heart.
Who then can understand and satisfy our expectations?
Who but the One who is the Author of Life can satisfy the
expectations that he himself has placed in our hearts? He
draws close to each and every one of us in order to
announce a hope that will never disappoint; he who is
both the way and the life: the pathway into life.
Left to ourselves, we could never achieve the ends for
which we have been created. Within us there is a promise
which we find we are incapable of attaining. But the Son
of God who came among us has given his personal assurance:
"I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life" (Jn
14:6). As Saint Augustine so strikingly phrased it,
Christ "wishes to create a place in which it is
possible for all people to find true life". This
"place" is his Body and his Spirit, in which
the whole of human life, redeemed and forgiven, is
renewed and made divine.
In fact, the
life of each of us was thought of and willed by God
before the world began, and we can rightly repeat with
the Psalmist: "O Lord, you have probed me and you
know me... truly you have formed my inmost being; you
knit me in my mother's womb" (Ps 139).
This life, which was in God from the beginning (cf. Jn 1:4),
is a life which is freely given, which holds nothing back
for itself and is freely and unstintingly communicated to
others. It is light, "the real light, which gives
light to every man" (Jn 1:9). It is God, who came to
make his dwelling among us (cf. Jn 1:14), to show us the
path to the immortality belonging to the children of God,
and to make it accessible to us.
In the mystery of his cross and resurrection, Christ has
destroyed death and sin, and has bridged the infinite
distance that separates all people from new life in him.
"I am the resurrection and the life", he
proclaims. "Whoever believes in me, though he should
die, will come to life, and whoever is alive and believes
in me will never die" (Jn 11:25).
Christ achieves all this by pouring out his Spirit, the
giver of life, in the sacraments; especially in Baptism,
the sacrament by which the fragile life which we receive
from our parents and which is destined to end in death
becomes instead a path to eternity; in the sacrament of
Penance which continually renews God's life within us by
the forgiveness of sins; and in the Eucharist, the "bread
of life" (cf. Jn 6:34), which feeds the "living"
and gives strength to their steps during their pilgrimage
on earth, so that they can say with the Apostle Paul:
"I still live my human life, but it is a life of
faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for
New life, the
gift of the risen Lord, then spreads far and wide,
flowing into every sphere of human experience: the family,
the school, the workplace, everyday activities and
That new life begins to flower here and now. The sign of
its presence and growth is love. As Saint John tells us:
"That we have passed from death to life we know
because we love the brothers" (1 Jn 3:14) with a
true love that is put into practice. Life flourishes in
the gift of self to others, in accordance with each
person's vocation in the ministerial priesthood,
in consecrated virginity, in marriage so that all
can share the gifts they have received, in a spirit of
solidarity, especially with the poor and the needy.
The person who is "begotten from above" thus
becomes able to "see the kingdom" of God (cf.
Jn 3:3), and to take part in building up social
structures more worthy of every individual and of all
humanity, in promoting and defending the culture of life
against all threats of death.
people, you ask a question that many of your friends
often put to you: how and where can we come to know this
life? How and where can we live it?
You can find the answer by yourselves, if you really try
to live faithfully in the love of Christ (cf. Jn 15:9).
Then you will personally experience the truth of those
words of his: "I am ... the life" (Jn 14:6) and
you will be able to bring this joyful message of hope to
everyone. Christ has made you his ambassadors, the
primary evangelizers of your contemporaries.
The next World Youth Day in Denver will give us an ideal
opportunity to reflect together on this theme of great
interest to everyone. We must therefore prepare for this
important meeting, first of all by looking around us to
discover and, make a list, as it were, of all the "places"
where Christ is present as the source of life. They may
be our parish communities, apostolic groups and movements,
monasteries, convents and religious houses, but also the
individual persons through whom as the disciples
at Emmaus experienced Christ is able to touch
hearts and open them up to hope.
Dear young people, with a spirit of generous self-giving,
recognize that you are directly involved in the new
evangelization, which demands the involvement of all of
us. Proclaim Christ, who "died for all, so that
those who live might live no longer for themselves, but
for him who for their sakes died and was raised up"
(2 Cor 5:15).
You, dear young
people of the United States who will be the hosts of the
next World Youth Day, have been given the joy of
welcoming as a gift of the Spirit this meeting with the
many young men and women who will come to your country on
pilgrimage from all over the world.
You are already making fervent spiritual and material
preparations for this event, which involves each member
of your ecclesial communities.
It is my earnest hope that this extraordinary event will
bring you ever greater enthusiasm and fidelity in
following Christ and in joyfully welcoming his message,
the source of new life.
I therefore entrust all of you to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
through whom we have been given the Author of Life, Jesus
Christ, the Son of God and our Lord. With great affection
I send all of you my blessing.
From the Vatican, on 15 August 1992, the
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary