'Come, Lord Jesus!'
Letting Christ into your lives bring true liberation, the Pope
tells young people
On Thursday afternoon, 18 August, the Holy Father was driven to
Pier on the Rhine River, where he immediately embarked with his
entourage, journalists and a group of young people on the "RheinEnergie".
He sat on deck with about 60 young people while the ferry was escorted
by five other boats representing the five continents.
Halfway through the trip, they docked at the Poller Rheinwiesen Wharf,
venue for the Welcome Celebration where thousands of youth were awaiting
the Pontiff. Several young people and Cardinal Karl Lehmann, President
of the German Bishops' Conference, greeted the Pope, who then spoke to
The Pope's ferry
continued as far as Hohenzollernbrücke.
Here he was greeted by the Mayor and signed the City of Cologne's golden
book, before walking 600 m. to the Cathedral.
following is a translation of the Holy Father's Address at Poller
Rheinwiesen, given in various languages.
Dear Young People,
I am delighted to meet you here in Cologne on the banks of the Rhine!
You have come from various parts of Germany, Europe and the rest of the
world as pilgrims in the footsteps of the Magi.
Following their route,
you too want to find Jesus. Like them, you have begun this journey in
order to contemplate, both personally and with others, the face of God
revealed by the Child in the manger.
Like yourselves, I too have set out
to join you in kneeling before the consecrated white Host in which the
eyes of faith recognize the real presence of the Saviour of the world.
Together, we will continue to meditate on the theme of this World Youth
Day: "We Have Come To Worship Him" (Mt 2:2).
With great joy I welcome you, dear young people. You have come here
from near and far, walking the streets of the world and the pathways of
life. My particular greeting goes to those who, like the Magi, have come
from the East. You are the representatives of so many of our brothers
and sisters who are waiting, without realizing it, for the star to rise
in their skies and lead them to Christ, Light of the Nations, in whom
they will find the fullest response to their hearts’ deepest desires.
also greet with affection those among you who have not been baptized,
and those of you who do not yet know Christ or have not yet found a home
in his Church. Pope John Paul II had invited you in particular to come
to this gathering; I thank you for deciding to come to Cologne.
Experience of Edith Stein
you might perhaps describe your adolescence in the words with which
Edith Stein, who later lived in the Carmel in Cologne, described her
own: "I consciously and deliberately lost the habit of praying". During
these days, you can once again have a moving experience of prayer as
dialogue with God, the God who we know loves us and whom we in turn wish
To all of you I appeal: Open wide your hearts to God! Let
yourselves be surprised by Christ! Let him have "the right of free
speech" during these days!
Open the doors of your freedom to his
merciful love! Share your joys and pains with Christ, and let him
enlighten your minds with his light and touch your hearts with his
In these days blessed with sharing and joy, may you have a
liberating experience of the Church as the place where God’s merciful
love reaches out to all people. In the Church and through the Church you
will meet Christ, who is waiting for you.
Today, as I arrived in Cologne to take part with you in the Twentieth
World Youth Day, I naturally recall with deep gratitude the Servant of
God so greatly loved by us all, Pope John Paul II, who had the inspired
idea of calling young people from all over the world to join in
celebrating Christ, the one Redeemer of the human race. Thanks to the
profound dialogue which developed over more than twenty years between
the Pope and young people, many of them were able to deepen their faith,
forge bonds of communion, develop a love for the Good News of salvation
in Christ and a desire to proclaim it throughout the world.
Pope understood the challenges faced by young people today and, as a
sign of his trust in them, he did not hesitate to spur them on to be
courageous heralds of the Gospel and intrepid builders of the
civilization of truth, love and peace.
Legacy of John Paul II
Today it is my turn to take up this extraordinary spiritual legacy
bequeathed to us by Pope John Paul II. He loved you – you realized that
and you returned his love with all your youthful enthusiasm. Now all of
us together have to put his teaching into practice. It is this
commitment which has brought us here to Cologne, as pilgrims in the
footsteps of the Magi.
According to tradition, the names of the Magi in
Greek were Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar. Matthew, in his Gospel, tells
of the question which burned in the hearts of the Magi: "Where is the
infant king of the Jews?" (Mt 2:2). It was in order to search for
him that they set out on the long journey to Jerusalem. This was why
they withstood hardships and sacrifices, and never yielded to
discouragement or the temptation to give up and go home. Now that they
were close to their goal, they had no other question than this.
have come to Cologne because in our hearts we have the same urgent
question that prompted the Magi from the East to set out on their
journey, even if it is differently expressed.
It is true that today we
are no longer looking for a king, but we are concerned for the state of
the world and we are asking: "Where do I find standards to live by, what
are the criteria that govern responsible co-operation in building the
present and the future of our world? On whom can I rely? To whom shall I
entrust myself? Where is the One who can offer me the response capable
of satisfying my heart’s deepest desires?"
The fact that we ask
questions like these means that we realize our journey is not over until
we meet the One who has the power to establish that universal Kingdom of
justice and peace to which all people aspire but which they are unable
to build by themselves. Asking such questions also means searching for
Someone who can neither deceive nor be deceived, and who therefore can
offer a certainty so solid that we can live for it and, if need be, even
die for it.
Or passions or the 'star'?
Dear friends, when questions like these appear on the horizon of
life, we must be able to make the necessary choices. It is like finding
ourselves at a crossroads: which direction do we take? The one prompted
by the passions or the one indicated by the star which shines in your
The Magi heard the answer: "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it
is written by the prophet" (Mt 2:5), and, enlightened by these
words, they chose to press forward to the very end. From Jerusalem they
went on to Bethlehem. In other words, they went from the word which
showed them where to find the King of the Jews whom they were seeking,
all the way to the end, to an encounter with the King who was at the
same time the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
words are also spoken for us. We too have a choice to make. If we think
about it, this is precisely our experience when we share in the
Eucharist. For in every Mass the liturgy of the Word introduces us to
our participation in the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ
and hence introduces us to the Eucharistic Meal, to union with Christ.
Present on the altar is the One whom the Magi saw lying in the manger:
Christ, the living Bread who came down from heaven to give life to the
world, the true Lamb who gives his own life for the salvation of
Enlightened by the Word, it is in Bethlehem – the "House of
Bread" – that we can always encounter the inconceivable greatness of a
God who humbled himself even to appearing in a manger, to giving himself
as food on the altar.
We can imagine the awe which the Magi experienced before the Child in
swaddling clothes. Only faith enabled them to recognize in the face of
that Child the King whom they were seeking, the God to whom the star had
guided them. In him, crossing the abyss between the finite and the
infinite, the visible and the invisible, the Eternal entered time, the
Mystery became known by entrusting himself to us in the frail body of a
"The Magi are filled with awe by what they see; heaven on
earth and earth in heaven; man in God and God in man; they see enclosed
in a tiny body the One whom the entire world cannot contain" (Saint
Peter Chrysologus, Serm. 160, No. 2).
In these days, during this
"Year of the Eucharist", we will turn with the same awe to Christ
present in the Tabernacle of mercy, in the Sacrament of the Altar.
young people, the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a
right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in
the Eucharist. Only he gives the fullness of life to humanity! With
Mary, say your own "yes" to God, for he wishes to give himself to you.
'Come, Lord Jesus!'
repeat today what I said at the beginning of my Pontificate: "If we let
Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of
what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship
are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great
potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do
we experience beauty and liberation" (Homily at the Mass of
Inauguration, 24 April 2005).
Be completely convinced of this:
Christ takes from you nothing that is beautiful and great, but brings
everything to perfection for the glory of God, the happiness of men and
women, and the salvation of the world.
In these days I encourage you to commit yourselves without reserve to
serving Christ, whatever the cost. The encounter with Jesus Christ will
allow you to experience in your hearts the joy of his living and
life-giving presence, and enable you to bear witness to it before
others. Let your presence in this city be the first sign and
proclamation of the Gospel, thanks to the witness of your actions and
Let us raise our hearts in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving
to the Father for the many blessings he has given us and for the gift of
faith which we will celebrate together, making it manifest to the world
from this land in the heart of Europe, a Europe which owes so much to
the Gospel and its witnesses down the centuries.
And now I shall go as a pilgrim to the Cathedral of Cologne, to
venerate the relics of the holy Magi who left everything to follow the
star which was guiding them to the Saviour of the human race. You too,
dear young people, have already had, or will have, the opportunity to
make the same pilgrimage.
These relics are only the poor and frail sign
of what those men were and what they experienced so many centuries ago.
The relics direct us towards God himself: it is he who, by the power of
his grace, grants to weak human beings the courage to bear witness to
him before the world.
By inviting us to venerate the mortal remains of
the martyrs and saints, the Church does not forget that, in the end,
these are indeed just human bones, but they are bones that belonged to
individuals touched by the transcendent power of God. The relics of the
saints are traces of that invisible but real presence which sheds light
upon the shadows of the world and reveals the Kingdom of Heaven in our
midst. They cry out with us and for us: "Maranatha!" – "Come Lord
My dear friends, I make these words my farewell, and I invite
you to the Saturday evening Vigil. I shall see you then!