PASTORAL VISIT TO THE ROMAN PARISH OF ST ALESSIO
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 18 November 2001
1. "By your perseverance you will save your souls" Lk 21,19. We have just heard the words that express the spiritual message of the Liturgy of the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time.
While we are coming to the close of the liturgical year, the Word of God invites us to recognize that divine Providence governs and directs the last events of history. In the first reading, the prophet Malachi describes the day of the Lord (cf. Mal. 3,19) as the decisive intervention of God, that brings about the defeat of evil and the establishment of justice, by punishing the wicked and rewarding the just. More clearly yet, the words of Jesus, that St Luke reports, take away from our hearts every kind of fear and anguish, opening us to the consoling certainty that the life and history of humanity, despite numerous tragic setbacks, remain firmly in God's hands. The Lord promises salvation to the person who puts his trust in him:
"Not a hair of your head will perish" (Lk 21,18).
He who believes, must not behave like that! But he must work in an ongoing and conscientious way, eagerly awaiting the definitive coming of the Lord. Here is the correct life style of the Lord's disciples, that is brought out in the chant before the Gospel: "Watch and be on guard, because you do not know on what day the Lord will return" ( cf. Mt 24,42.44).
3. My dear parishioners of St Alessio at the Case Rosse, thank you for your warm welcome. I cordially greet the Cardinal Vicar and the Auxiliary Bishop of the Sector. I greet your active parish priest, Don Giancarlo Casalone, the parochial vicar, those who belong to the parish and those who live in this neighbourhood.
I am happy to celebrate Mass in your new and beautiful parish church. Thanks be to God and to the generous contribution of the Vicariate, of your priests and of many persons of good will, that, after about 20 years, your community now has an adequate parish complex. I am sure that it favours the identity and growth of the community and its apostolic activity in this area. It is important to have a place to come together to pray, to receive the sacraments, and to establish relations of friendship and fraternity. In this way, it is easier to form the children, to meet with young people, to help families and support the elderly. The parish creates the spirit of acceptance and of solidarity which our world needs so much.
5. Everyday you should ask: Lord, what do you wish me to do? What is your will for us as family, as parents and as children. What do you expect from me as a young person who is open to life and wants to live with and for you? Only in answering such personal questions will you fully realize the will of God: to be
the "light" and "salt" that enlightens and gives savour to our beloved City.
May Mary be your support and your guide. She is the faithful Virgin who can teach us ever to "rejoice in the service of the Lord", as we prayed at the beginning of Mass and she can obtain for us the grace "to persevere in our dedication to God", the author of every good thing. Thus we shall achieve "a full and lasting happiness". Amen.