Beloved Sons and Daughters,
It is a great joy for the Pope to find himself among you and to be able to join you in giving thanks to God.
The holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most sacred and the most religious rite. At the same time it is an act of the community, an act which is supremely social and fraternal. And as We celebrate this act We would like to answer a question which must arise in your hearts: Why has the Pope come so far to see us? What is the purpose of his journey? Is he pursuing some temporal interest? Is he looking for fame and prestige?
The reason We have come is this. We are urged on by the same driving force as were your missionaries in the past. We are filled with the same conviction as your Catholic community today. And so We believe with all the strengh of Our spirit that mankind has a supreme, primary and irreplaceable need which can be satisfied only through Jesus Christ, the first-born among men, the head of the new humanity, in whom each individual reaches full selfrealization. For «only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light» (Gaudium et spes, 22).
Although he was the Son of God, Jesus Christ wished for the sake of our redemption to become one of us. He shared our human condition, making himself part of the world of his time, speaking the language of his country, and drawing on local life for the examples with which to illustrate his teaching of justice, truth, hope and love. Today his teaching has spread throughout the world. It adapts itself in its expression to all languages, and to all traditions and civilizations. No book has been translated into so many tongues as the Gospel. No prayer is said in so many languages as the Our Father, taught by Jesus himself.
In the same way the Christian is no stranger among his own people. He shares with them all their honourable customs. As a good citizen should he loves his native land. And yet the faith he professes is Catholic, the same faith as is professed by Africans, Americans and Europeans. How can this be? It is because the historical man called Jesus of Nazareth was also the Son of God. It is because man was created by God and for God, and in his very being he is drawn by the One who called him to life. This is so personal and so essential an element of man that the person who drives God out of his life soon runs the risk of refusing to accept his fellowmen as his brothers.
Jesus Christ comes into our lives in answer to the call whose seeds were placed by God in each one’s heart (Cfr. Ad gentes, 11). His Word, which is the revelation of a loving God, and his grace, which is the sharing of God’s very life through his Holy Spirit and in the sacraments, build up the community of God’s People which is called the Church. It is a community united by one baptism, one faith and one Lord, and living for «one God who is Father of all, over all, and within all» (Cfr. Eph. 4: 5-6).
And what is the response that we the members of his holy people must give? We must respond to God’s grace by our fidelity to the saving Word, by a conduct worthy of new men. The infinite holiness of God communicated to us calls for a response in the form of our finite holiness modelled on that of Jesus Christ. Then everything is transformed and illuminated: the life of individuals, that of families, the use of this world’s goods, our relationships with others, al1 the life of society; for it is the whole man that Christ frees, raises up, and saves.
This, dear sons and daughters, is what We carne here to proclaim: Jesus Christ. He is our Saviour, and at the same time he is the Teacher for all of us. He is «the Way, the Truth and the Life» (Io. 14: 6). Anyone who follows him will not be walking in the dark (Cfr. Io. 8: 12). That is the memory We would like to engrave on your souls for ever.