During the solemn Mass celebrated for the 4th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged young people to follow the example of his predecessor, who did not accept any compromise when the Truth was at stake.
“We are gathered this evening by his memory, which remains alive in the hearts of the people, as shown by the uninterrupted pilgrimage of faithful to his tomb at the Vatican catacombs, Pope Benedict said.
Addressing the Roman youth present at the Basilica to celebrate the Diocesan World Youth Day, the Pope said, “your presence brings to mind the enthusiasm that John Paul II was able to infuse in the new generations. His memory is a stimulus for us all… to allow us to be enlightened and challenged by God’s word.”
Commenting on today's Gospel, the Holy Father told the youth that “it is indeed difficult to give witness of Christ. And our thoughts go to the beloved Servant of God Karol Wojtyła – John Paul II, who since his youth was an ardent and intrepid defender of Christ. For Him, he did not hesitate to spend all his energy to transmit the light all around; [he] did not accept any compromise about proclaiming and defending His Truth; he has never tired of transmitting His love.”
Commenting on the first reading –God’s promise to Abraham—Pope Benedict said that John Paul was granted Abraham’s spiritual fruitfulness.
“We could say that especially during the years of his long pontificate, he generated the faith of many children.”
“You are the visible sign, dear youth present here this evening. You, youth from Rome, and you, youth arrived from Sydney and Madrid, you represent the large number of boys and girls who have participated at the 23 World Youth Days, in different places around the world.”
“How many vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, how many young families who decided to live the Gospel’s ideal and move toward holiness are associated with the testimony and preaching of my venerable predecessor!”
“How many boy and girls have converted, or have persevered in their Christian way thanks to his prayer, his encouragement, his support and his example!” the Pope exclaimed.
Pope Benedict also described John Paul II as “an affectionate father and attentive educator,” who “pointed out ... the solid reference points indispensable for everyone, especially for the youth.”
John Paul, the Pontiff said, “underlined several times the need for radically adhering to the Gospel … and I have wanted to take on this desire of his.”
“In the age of growth, the youth are in need of adults capable of proposing their principles and values; are in need of persons capable of teaching with their lives, even before [they teach] with their words, to spend themselves for high ideals.”
“Dear young people, we cannot live without having hope. Experience shows that everything, even our own life is at risk, and can collapse for any reason internal or external to us, at any time. This is normal: everything that is human, and therefore even hope, has no foundation in itself, but needs a ‘rock’ to be anchored to.”
Pope Benedict warned that “in moments like this one, given the cultural and social context in which we live, the risk of reducing Christian hope to an ideology, a group slogan, an external decoration, could become stronger.”
“Nothing is more opposed to Christ's message!” he alerted the youth.
Jesus wants his disciples “to ‘be’ hope, and we can be so only by remaining united to Him.”
“This is the torch that Pope John Paul has left us as an inheritance. He has given it to me, as his successor; and I, this evening, give it, one more time, to you, young people of Rome.”
“In particular, during the Year of the Priesthood, which will begin on June 19, be open, if Jesus calls you, to follow him in the way of the priesthood or the consecrated life,” the Pope said.