JOHN PAUL II
5 September 1999
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. The months go by and we are drawing closer and closer to the Great
Jubilee which will begin the third millennium. At the close of this century
the panorama emerging before our eyes includes many shadows, such as the
suffering and injustice oppressing individuals and peoples, the violence and
the wars that unfortunately continue to bathe so many of the earth's regions
in blood. However, there are some comforting rays of light which prompt us
to look at the future with hope. Our optimism is based above all on the
certainty of God's constant help, which is always given to those who humbly
and trustfully implore it.
The Gospel passage offered for our meditation by today's liturgy reminds us of
this. Jesus tells his disciples: "Where two or three are gathered in my name,
there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18: 20). The knowledge that
Christ remains among his people encourages believers and spurs them to
promote authentic solidarity by actively working to build the "civilization
2. In this regard, I would like to recall the immense throng of generous
people who, during the 20th century, have offered their lives to Christ by
serving their brothers and sisters in humility and love. My thoughts turn in
particular to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom God called to himself exactly
two years ago today. The foundress of the Missionaries of Charity liked to
say over and over: "When we help another person, we are rewarded with peace
and joy, because we have given meaning to our life". She was a great and
appreciated teacher of life, especially for young people, whom she reminded
that their "great task is to build peace, starting with their families, and
to defend life always and everywhere, especially when it is particularly
weak". May her witness be an incentive and an encouragement for many young
men and women to put themselves generously at the service of the Gospel.
3. May Mary, whom the faithful never tire of calling upon as a loving Mother,
arouse sentiments of peace and active apostolic commitment in every heart.
If promoting solidarity and love is a duty for every human being, it is even
more so for Christians.
May the Blessed Virgin intercede for all humanity so that the third millennium
will be a time of genuine and lasting peace.
Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!
After leading the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the
faithful in various languages. To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors
I extend a special welcome to the students from the University of Dallas who
are beginning their studies in Rome, and to the group of pilgrims from
Dundalk, Ireland. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors I
invoke the protection of the Virgin Mary and the peace of Jesus Christ her
Son. God bless you all.
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