ON THE OCCASION OF THE 23rd WORLD YOUTH DAY
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Sunday, 20 July 2008
â€śYou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon youâ€ť (Acts 1:8). We have seen this promise fulfilled! On the day of Pentecost, as we heard in the first reading, the Risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Spirit upon the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. In the power of that Spirit, Peter and the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In every age, and in every language, the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim the marvels of God and to call all nations and peoples to faith, hope and new life in Christ.
In these days I too have come, as the Successor of Saint Peter, to this magnificent land of Australia. I have come to confirm you, my young brothers and sisters, in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christâ€™s Spirit and the richness of his gifts. I pray that this great assembly, which unites young people â€śfrom every nation under heavenâ€ť (cf. Acts 2:5), will be a new Upper Room. May the fire of Godâ€™s love descend to fill your hearts, unite you ever more fully to the Lord and his Church, and send you forth, a new generation of apostles, to bring the world to Christ!
â€śYou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon youâ€ť. These words of the Risen Lord have a special meaning for those young people who will be confirmed, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, at todayâ€™s Mass. But they are also addressed to each of us â€“ to all those who have received the Spiritâ€™s gift of reconciliation and new life at Baptism, who have welcomed him into their hearts as their helper and guide at Confirmation, and who daily grow in his gifts of grace through the Holy Eucharist. At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lordâ€™s body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in his power, â€śone body, one spirit in Christâ€ť.
But what is this â€śpowerâ€ť of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of Godâ€™s life! It is the power of the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation and who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is the power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God. In todayâ€™s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that a new age has begun, in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all humanity (cf. Lk 4:21). He himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin May, came among us to bring us that Spirit. As the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of Godâ€™s grace.
Here in Australia, this â€śgreat south land of the Holy Spiritâ€ť, all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spiritâ€™s presence and power in the beauty of nature. Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is: â€śchargedâ€ť, as the poet says, â€świth the grandeur of Godâ€ť, filled with the glory of his creative love. Here too, in this great assembly of young Christians from all over the world, we have had a vivid experience of the Spiritâ€™s presence and power in the life of the Church. We have seen the Church for what she truly is: the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord.
The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life! Through the grace of the Churchâ€™s sacraments, that power also flows deep within us, like an underground river which nourishes our spirit and draws us ever nearer to the source of our true life, which is Christ. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who died a martyr in Rome at the beginning of the second century, has left us a splendid description of the Spiritâ€™s power dwelling within us. He spoke of the Spirit as a fountain of living water springing up within his heart and whispering: â€śCome, come to the Fatherâ€ť (cf. Ad Rom., 6:1-9).
Yet this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift. Godâ€™s love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church. Prayer is pure receptivity to Godâ€™s grace, love in action, communion with the Spirit who dwells within us, leading us, through Jesus, in the Church, to our heavenly Father. In the power of his Spirit, Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive â€śpower from on highâ€ť, enabling us to be salt and light for our world.
At his Ascension, the Risen Lord told his disciples: â€śYou will be my witnesses â€¦ to the ends of the earthâ€ť (Acts 1:8). Here, in Australia, let us thank the Lord for the gift of faith, which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation in the communion of the Church. Here, in Oceania, let us give thanks in a special way for all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands â€“ witnesses like Blessed Mary MacKillop, Saint Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, and so many others! The power of the Spirit, revealed in their lives, is still at work in the good they left behind, in the society which they shaped and which is being handed on to you.
Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the â€śpowerâ€ť which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make?
The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of Godâ€™s Kingdom. What a magnificent vision of a humanity redeemed and renewed we see in the new age promised by todayâ€™s Gospel! Saint Luke tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all Godâ€™s promises, the Messiah who fully possesses the Holy Spirit in order to bestow that gift upon all mankind. The outpouring of Christâ€™s Spirit upon humanity is a pledge of hope and deliverance from everything that impoverishes us. It gives the blind new sight; it sets the downtrodden free, and it creates unity in and through diversity (cf. Lk 4:18-19; Is 61:1-2). This power can create a new world: it can â€śrenew the face of the earthâ€ť (cf. Ps 104:30)!
Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faithâ€™s rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which Godâ€™s gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished â€“ not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships. Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity.
The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning â€“ the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanityâ€™s sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.
The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4)! In todayâ€™s second reading, the Apostle Paul reminds us that each and every Christian has received a gift meant for building up the Body of Christ. The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people. She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power! I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say â€śyesâ€ť to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!
In a few moments, we will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmands; they will be â€śsealedâ€ť with the gift of the Spirit and sent forth to be Christâ€™s witnesses. What does it mean to receive the â€śsealâ€ť of the Holy Spirit? It means being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation. For those who have received this gift, nothing can ever be the same! Being â€śbaptizedâ€ť in the one Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:13) means being set on fire with the love of God. Being â€śgiven to drinkâ€ť of the Spirit means being refreshed by the beauty of the Lordâ€™s plan for us and for the world, and becoming in turn a source of spiritual refreshment for others. Being â€śsealed with the Spiritâ€ť means not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilization of love.
As we pray for the confirmands, let us ask that the power of the Holy Spirit will revive the grace of our own Confirmation. May he pour out his gifts in abundance on all present, on this city of Sydney, on this land of Australia and on all its people! May each of us be renewed in the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in Godâ€™s presence!
Through the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may this Twenty-third World Youth Day be experienced as a new Upper Room, from which all of us, burning with the fire and love of the Holy Spirit, go forth to proclaim the Risen Christ and to draw every heart to him! Amen.
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Saluto di cuore i giovani di lingua italiana, ed estendo il mio affettuoso pensiero a quanti sono originari dellâ€™Italia e vivono in Australia. Al termine di questa straordinaria esperienza di Chiesa, che ci ha fatto vivere una rinnovata Pentecoste, tornate a casa rinvigoriti dalla forza dello Spirito Santo. Siate testimoni di Cristo risorto, speranza dei giovani e dellâ€™intera famiglia umana!
Chers jeunes francophones, lâ€™Esprit Saint est la source du message de JĂ©sus-Christ et de son action salvifique. Il parle au cĹ“ur de chacun le langage quâ€™il comprend. La diversitĂ© des dons de lâ€™Esprit vous fait comprendre la richesse de grĂ˘ces qui est en Dieu. Puissiez-vous vous ouvrir Ă son souffle ! Puissiez-vous permettre son action en vous et autour de vous ! Vous vivrez ainsi en Dieu et vous tĂ©moignerez que le Christ est le Sauveur que le monde espĂ¨re.
Auch euch, liebe junge Freunde deutscher Sprache, gilt mein herzlicher GruĂź. Der Heilige Geist ist ein Geist der Gemeinschaft und wirkt VerstĂ¤ndigung und Kommunikation. Sprecht mit anderen ĂĽber eure Hoffnungen und Ideale, und sprecht von Gott und mit Gott! GlĂĽcklich ist der Mensch, der in der Liebe Gottes und in der Liebe zum NĂ¤chsten lebt. Gottes Geist fĂĽhre euch auf Wegen des Friedens!
Queridos jĂłvenes, en Cristo se cumplen todas las promesas de salvaciĂłn verdadera para la humanidad. Ă‰l tiene para cada uno de vosotros un proyecto de amor en el que se encuentra el sentido y la plenitud de la vida, y espera de todos vosotros que hagĂˇis fructificar los dones que os ha dado, siendo sus testigos de palabra y con el propio ejemplo. No lo defraudĂ©is.Amados jovens de lĂngua portuguesa, queridos amigos em Cristo! Sabeis que Jesus nĂŁo vos quer sozinhos; disse Ele: Â«Eu rogarei ao Pai e Ele vos darĂˇ outro Consolador para estar convosco para sempre, o EspĂrito da verdade (â€¦) que vĂłs conheceis, porque habita convosco e estĂˇ em vĂłsÂ» (Jo 14, 16-17). Ă‰ verdade! Sobre vĂłs desceu uma lĂngua de fogo do Pentecostes: Ă© a vossa marca de cristĂŁos. Mas nĂŁo foi para a guardardes sĂł para vĂłs, porque Â«a manifestaĂ§ĂŁo do EspĂrito Ă© dada a cada um para proveito comumÂ» (1 Cor 12, 7). Levai este Fogo santo a todos os cantos da terra. Nada e ninguĂ©m O poderĂˇ apagar, porque desceu do cĂ©u. Tal Ă© a vossa forĂ§a, caros jovens amigos! Por isso, vivei do EspĂrito e para o EspĂrito!
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