From the Holy Father
John Paul II's Message to young people for the 12th World Youth Day
Dear Young People!
I come to you with joy to continue the dialogue, already long, whose fabric we are weaving together on the occasion of the World Youth Day. In communion with the whole people of God on the journey towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I want to invite you this year to fix your eyes on Jesus, Teacher and Lord of life, with the help of the words recalled in John's Gospel: "Teacher, where are you staying? Come and see" (cf. 1:38, 39).
In all the local Churches, during the coming months, you will be meeting together to reflect, with your Pastors, on these words of the Gospel. Then, in August 1997, together with many of you, we will have the experience of the 12th World Youth Day, celebrated at international level in Paris, at the heart of the continent of Europe. In that metropolis, for centuries a crossroads for people, for art and culture, the young people of France are already preparing, enthusiastically, to welcome their young contemporaries from every corner of the planet. Following the Holy Year Cross, the people of the younger generations who believe in Christ will, once again, become a living icon of the Church in her pilgrimage along the roads of the world. Meeting in prayer and reflection, in the dialogue that unites beyond all difference of language and race, in the sharing of ideals, problems and hopes, these young people will experience living the reality promised by Jesus: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20).
We are living in an era of great changes: the rapid decline of ideologies that seemed to promise a long resistance to the wear and tear of time; the tracing out on the planet of new confines and frontiers. Humanity often finds itself uncertain, bewildered and anxious (cf. Mt 9:36). But the word of God knows no decline; throughout history and among changing events, it remains firm and gives light (cf. Mt 24:35). The faith of the Church is founded on Jesus Christ, the one Saviour of the world, yesterday and today and for ever (cf. Heb 13:8). It gives Christ as reference for an answer to the questions rising up from the human heart in the face of the mystery of life and death. Only from Christ, indeed, can there be answers that do not deceive nor disappoint.
When my thoughts go back to your words, spoken during the unforgettable encounters I have had the joy of experiencing with you on my apostolic journeys to every part of the world, I seem to read in them, with vital urgency, the very question of the disciples: "Teacher, where are you staying?" See that you are able to listen again, in the silence of prayer, to Jesus' answer: "Come and see".
Dear young people, like the first disciples, follow Jesus! Do not be afraid to draw near to him, to cross the threshold of his dwelling, to speak with him, face to face, as you talk with a friend (cf. Ex 33:11). Do not be afraid of the "new life" he is offering. He himself makes it possible for you to receive that life and practise it, with the help of his grace and the gift of his Spirit.
Jesus dwells among the men and women "honoured with the name of Christian" (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 15). All are able to meet him in the Scriptures, in prayer and in service of their neighbours. On the eve of the third millennium, it is becoming every day a more urgent duty to repair the scandal of the division among Christians, strengthening unity through dialogue, prayer in common and witness. It is not a matter of ignoring differences and problems in the detachment of a lukewarm relativism; that would be like covering the wound without healing it, with the risk of interrupting the journey before reaching the goal of full communion. On the contrary, it is a matter of working - under the guidance of the Holy Spirit - with a view to effective reconciliation, trusting in the efficacy of Jesus' prayer on the eve of his passion: "Father, that they may be one even as we are one" (cf. Jn 17:22). The more you cling to Jesus the more capable you will become of being close to one another; and insofar as you make concrete gestures of reconciliation you will enter into the intimacy of his love.
Jesus dwells especially in your parishes, in the communities in which you live, in the associations and ecclesial movements to which you belong, as well as in many contemporary forms of grouping and apostolate at the service of the new evangelization. This rich variety of charisms is a benefit for the whole Church, and an encouragement for every believer to place his or her capacities at the service of the one Lord, fount of salvation for all humankind.
On 30 September will occur the centenary of the death of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Hers is a figure that, in her own country, cannot fail to draw the attention of a great many young pilgrims; Therese, precisely, is a young Saint, and her message today is simple and suggestive, brimming over with amazement and gratitude: God is Love; every person is loved by God, who expects to be welcomed and loved by each one. This is a message, young people of today, that you are called to receive and to shout aloud to those of your own age: "Man is loved by God! This very simple yet profound proclamation is owed to humanity by the Church" (cf. Christifideles Laici, n. 34).
From the youth of Therese of the Child Jesus spring forth her enthusiasm for the Lord, the intensity of her love, the realistic daring of her great projects. The charm of her holiness is confirmation that God grants in abundance, even to the young, the treasures of her wisdom.
Walk with her the humble and simple way of Christian maturity, at the school of the Gospel. Stay with her in the "heart" of the Church, living radically the option for Christ.