World Youth Day
Second catechesis: "Rooted in Christ"
Madrid, August 18th 2011
Dear young people, I know there are many urgent questions inside of your hearts. This morning only a single, big question is put to you. Jesus is among you and heís asking: "Who do you say I am?".
Answering this question is a matter of fundamental importance for your life. And in some sense you are compelled to reply, as saying: "I donít care who you are", as weíll see at once, puts you into a very serious risk.
We are forced to answer the question put to us by Jesus, because he introduces himself making promises that no one before him had ever made to men: the promise of an eternal life, immediately and not only after death, the promise of a true bliss. In a word: a successful, not failed life.
In the face of who makes similar promises, perhaps it isnít unavoidable asking: who is this man that makes me such promises? Unavoidable, of course, for those who have already reconciled themselves to live without unlimited hopes, as the heart suggests to everyone of us; for those who havenít cut their natural desire to live a true love story and not just a few episodes of it; for those who havenít blamed that tireless power of their mind towards the whole Truth; for those who havenít given up on giving a sense to their In the face of those who make similar promises, it is perhaps inevitable question: who is this that makes me such promises? Inevitable, of course, for those who have not already resigned to live without hope unlimited, as the heart suggests that each of us, for those who have reduced their natural desire to live a true love story, and not just a few episodes, for those who did not criticize the relentless power of his mind towards the whole truth, for those who have not given up on giving meaning to his life.
Dear young people, how many people before you have had a question raised inside of them they have not censored. Among them we see Paul.
His conversion is started by a question he asks Christ showing himself to him: "Who are you, Lord?". Yes, dear young people, because this morning you, in a sense, like Paul can say to Jesus: "But who are you, Lord?".
And after having answered, Paul's life changed. While remembering that event, Paul writes: "I think everything is a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. In fact I think everything is a loss because of the surpassing worth Jesus Christís acquaintance, my Lord".
When you answer the question that Jesus makes you this morning - "Who do you say I am?" - and He reveals Himself, not in words, but through illuminating your heart, then you come across one that makes you see in the splendor of truth and taste in the power of good the whole meaning of life. You have met the living person of Christ and you are totally fascinated by Him.
But, as you have heard in the Gospel page, we mustnít seek the answer in "what people say." Nowadays there are many false answers they offer, also through the great media. But most of all there are two of them to which you have to look.
The first one introduces Jesus as the great master of the rules of life [I was going to say: a boring mother-in-law always saying to you what you must or mustnít do].
The second one is much more subtle and you might find it even in the books of theology and catechesis [so to speak]. Weíre talking about books or people who use such a subtlety of language to constantly leave you dubious about the basic question: but Jesus is alive among us today? Can I meet Him in His living person of the risen life?
Dear young people, at the end the question is this: Jesus belongs to the past and He can only be reminded or Heís alive today and can be met? The rest is gossip.
Have you heard what just a moment ago Benedict XVI has said to us: "We also can have a sensible contact with Jesus, can put, so to speak, our hands over the signs of his Passion, the signs of his love: He is in the Sacraments comes particularly closer to us, He gives himself to us. Dear young people, learn to "see", to "meet" Jesus in the Eucharist, where Heís present and close to the point of becoming food for our walk; in the Sacrament of Penance, in which God shows his mercy in always forgiving us. Recognize and serve Jesus in the poor, the sick, the brothers who are in trouble and need a help too".
Dear young people, you know Peterís answer: "You are Christ, the living Godís Son." This morning we're here in order that our Father who is in heaven reveals to everyone of us the truth of this answer too, makes us perceiving it in the depths of our being.
But what those words really mean: "You the living Godís Son"? Jesus, dear friends, is Godís very presence among us. We are not alone in the crossing of life anymore: we have embarked and on our little raft thereís also God. We canít sink.
Dear friends, Jesus has given us many gifts and He has told us wonderful words that will never pass. But the greatest gift He has given us is He himself, so that Heís present among us.
The apostle Paul, while talking about the pagans of his time, describes them in the following way: "without hope and without God in the world" [Eph 2, 12]. Of course, he well knew they had many idols, many temples and religious practices. But they were "without God in the world", ie: they lived in a world they believed to be without Godís presence. They believed that deity wouldnít, couldnít, shouldnít care about ugly human affairs. What was the result? They lived "with no hope", because at the end a world in which God was absent, was dark.
Dear young people, how actual is the description made by S. Paul of the pagans of his time! A world in which God was absent extinguishes hope; the hope, I mean, that our life doesnít end in the eternal void.
"Jesus" Ė Peter says - "... you are the living Godís Son." That is: through You God is present among us. After many years, another apostle, John, will write: "Eternal Life made itself clear, we saw it." If God is present among us, we can know Him, we can be in His company ["dwell in His love," John splendidly says]: and this means having hope.
Letís listen to what a great Russian writer says. "You can talk, disagree about Christ ... All these discussions are possible and the world is full of them and it will be full still for a long time.
But you and I know that ... it is all nonsense, that Christ - as Heís only a man Ė isnít the Savior and the source of life, and that science alone wonít never complete each human ideal and that peace for men, the source of life and the salvation from despair for all men, the prerequisite and the guarantee for the entire universe are hedged in the words: the Word became flesh and in the faith in these words "[F. Dostoevsky]. This is the Peterís response extent.
Dear friends, how could your life be if God was absent in it, in the world in which you live? Do you really think that science, politics, economic welfare, the unregulated use of your sexuality can give you real and definitive answers to what your heart more deeply desires?
"... You are the living Godís Son," replied Peter, and, logically, in another context he says: "You have words of eternal life, to whom shall we go?".
In Order not to want to live in a world without hope, to want to meet Christ, the living Godís Son, to hear from him "the words giving eternal life", you wonder like the first two disciples who followed Jesus: "Where are you living?" [Jn 1, 38].
Dear young people, today the encounter with Christ - not only his memory - is possible to each of you because Christ is present in the Church. When asked: "Jesus, where are you living, so that I can come and meet you and stay with you?" He answers: "In the Church". The Church is the place where the living Godís Son lives.
"In the totality of her being her aim is revealing Christ to us, leading us to Him, communicating his grace to us; in short she exists to put us in relationship with Him. Only she can do it and will never fail to do so Ö if the world lost the Church ... it would loose the redemption" [H. De Lubac, Meditation on the Church, Pauline - Jaca Book, Milan 1979, 136], because it would loose Jesus.
Without the Church, dear friends, our life would be hopeless, because the new that God is present among us and that Jesus has shown us his face would be a speech only. So, it would be able to transform our lives, making us feel in our hearts the truth of the words of Peter: Lord, only you have the words of eternal life.
Dear young people, hearing these words, perhaps, a question begins to creep in you: but how is it possible that the Church is the guardian of eternal life, the guardian of true hope for me, the real presence of Jesus among us, when it is made up of men loaded of so much misery? Donít worry. This doubt is two thousand years old. When Jesus introduced himself as the one who made present and active the grace and the love of God, they said: "Is he not the carpenter, the Maryís Son ... And they were shocked" [Mk 6, 2.3].
As you can see, the same "scandal" referred to the Church, dealt with the Church, dealt with Jesus. But you have to look more deeply it. Is it touching that God is so humiliated as to be among us, around us by a society made up of men and not angels, isnít it? Is it touching that the question of hope that each of you this evening addresses to Him, He answered not in the following way: "Find me by yourself", but "Look for me where there is a community of men and women like you, who believe in Jesus "?.
"We must become blessed one other, we must come to God all together and introduce ourselves to Him all together" [Ch Peguy, cit. by Youcat, 78].
Why it is in the Church that you encounter the living person of Jesus? Because in it are there are the sacraments. Most of all the Eucharist and the Confession.
The Eucharist is the sacrament in which Jesus gives us his Body and his Blood Ė that is himself Ė so that we also join to Him in love, becoming one body, the Church.
The Confession is the sacrament in which God forgives us and our sins: every our wound is treated.
Dear friends, the story of Passion of Jesus, written by his beloved friend, John, ends with the opening of the crucified Christ's side by which blood and water flow. Itís the wound of love. In these Easter days bring your lips to that source of life, let yourselves be purified and regenerated by that water that, flowed from Christ's side, flows through the sacrament of Penance. And true joy will bloom in your heart; the hope will root and the light of truth will enlighten you and you will become able to make your life a wonderful gift.
La traduzione, non rivista dal Card. Caffarra, Ť di Saveria De Vito