Homily for Solemnity of the Assumption, Jasna Góra,
1. "Those who are led by the Spirit of
God are children of God" (Rom 8:14).
Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters from Poland
and various parts of the world.
I begin this homily, which is entirely in Polish,
with some trepidation. However, if there is something to console me, it is the
realization that our guests can also hear it in their own language. It is a
little like Pentecost in Jerusalem. And not only because those who have come
from afar can participate in this liturgical event while "listening
to" the homily with the aid of the screens so graciously offered to us by
our Italian brothers. Last of all, I am also consoled because of the beautiful
weather and the sunshine.
Mr President of the Republic, Mr Prime Minister,
Representatives of the Government and the Parliament, all of you, my dear
Brothers in the episcopate, Cardinals, Bishops, all of my brother priests,
brothers and sisters in the religious vocation, in the Christian and human
vocation, all of you present here.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit, I greet all of you, my dear young people, who have gathered here from
various European countries and from other continents. You have come to Jasna Góra
with the knowledge that you received a spirit of adoption" (Rom
8:15). Thanks to this "you are heirs of God", and at the same time,
"joint heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:17). Together with him you can
exclaim: "Abba, Father!" (Rom 8:15). In fact, "the Spirit itself
bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom 8:16).
In our meeting last evening we reflected on the
truth concerning your vocation in Christ, by concentrating on three signs: the
Cross, the Bible and the image of Mary.
In today's solemnity we wish to turn our
attention in a particular way to the woman who was especially guided by the
Spirit of God: Mary. We greet her as the beloved daughter of God the Father,
who was chosen as the human mother of the Son of God. We greet Mary as the one
who accepted this eternal election, giving birth to Jesus Christ through the
work of the Holy Spirit: the Virgin of Nazareth believed that what is
impossible for men is possible for God (cf. Lk 1:37).
2. With particular solemnity the Church today
celebrates her Assumption into heaven. This definitive fulfilment of the
life and vocation of the Mother of God allows us—in the light of the liturgy—to
look at Mary's whole preceding earthly life, at her maternal pilgrimage through
faith. During the visitation, the words of Elizabeth express this in a much more
precise and, at the same time, complete way: "Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled" (Lk 1:45).
The words heard by Mary at the Annunciation were
fulfilled in a wonderful way: from the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem to the cross
on Golgotha, and then from Easter morning until the day of Pentecost. Throughout
these stages of earthly pilgrimage, Mary realized ever more profoundly how
"the Mighty One has done great things for me" (cf. Lk 1:49). In the
Assumption all those "great things" (magnalia Dei) have
been almost definitively crowned. Mary enters as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit
into the house of humanity's supreme destiny. Her eternal dwelling is found in
the dwelling of the Most Holy Trinity. And here, on earth, "all ages
call her blessed" (cf. Lk 1:48).
And we also, this particular community of young
people, proclaim Mary as blessed among women, thus giving the greatest honour to
the only begotten Son of the Father, who became the blessed fruit of her womb.
In fact, in him "we have all received adoption" (cf. Rom 8:15).
3. The liturgy of the solemnity of the Assumption
cannot be exhausted here. It makes us look not only towards that "temple of
God, which was opened in heaven" (cf. Rv 11:19), in which all the adopted
children of God, together with the Mother of God, as "joint heirs with
Christ" take part in the ineffable life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This is the definitive fullness of every truth and love. The Book of Revelation
makes us look at the Assumption as a "great sign": "a
woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a
crown of twelve stars" (Rv 12: 1). Therefore, this is the sign of the
fulfilment, in view of all its cosmic dimensions: in this sign everything
returns to God, who is the Creator, that is, the absolute beginning of all that
exists, creation in all its manifold richness.
In this sign,
one can see how man, who was created in the image and likeness
of God, returns to God. We must all return in the same way, if we have
received the adoption of the only begotten Son of God, who became for the sake
of our adoption, the Son of Man: the Son of Mary.
Nevertheless, that all-inclusive return of
the children to the Father, over the course of mankind's entire history on
earth, is linked to a particular drama. Today's liturgy lays emphasis on
this drama, through the words of the Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians:
"Death came through a human being; ... in Adam all die" (I Cor
15:21-22). This death has a more profound dimension than that which is only
4. It is a death which strikes the spirit,
depriving it of the life which comes from God himself. It is caused by sin,
which is rebellion against God on the part of free and rational creatures. The
drama goes back to the beginning when man, tempted by the Devil, wanted to
attain his own fulfilment in an autonomous way. "You will be like gods who
know what is good and what is bad", was the incitement whispered by the
serpent (cf. Gn 3:5): that is, you will be able to decide for yourselves what is
good and what is bad, independently from the source of truth and goodness, which
is God himself.
This particular drama—the original drama—finds
its symbolic expression in the magnificent picture presented to us by today's
liturgy. Opposite the woman clothed with the sun, which is the
symbol of the cosmos being transformed into the kingdom of the living God, another
symbol appears, which is that of the Devil of the original drama. In
Sacred Scripture he has different names. Here he is represented as a dragon who
wants to devour the infant to whom the woman gives birth, the shepherd "of
all nations" (cf. Rv 12:4-5).
Therefore, the last book of the New Testament
confirms the first, i.e., Genesis: "I will put enmity between you and the
woman, and between your offspring and hers" (Gn 3:15). Human history is
thus presented as a long sequence of conflicts and struggles between good and
evil, between the eternal Father who loves the world to the point of giving his
only begotten Son and the "father of lies", who is "a murderer
from the beginning" (cf. Jn 8:44).
5. What does the "father of lies"
struggle for? He struggles to deprive mankind of his adoptive sonship, to take
away his inheritance which was given to him by the Father in Christ.
The struggle against the woman, who is the Virgin
Mother of the Redeemer of the world, is against the one who is the sublime model
of the Church (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 53).
The sign of the "woman" in
the Book of Revelation points to the Mother of God and points to the Church. It
points to all those who "are led by the Spirit of God", to those who
together with Christ, as children of' God, exclaim: "Abba, Father!"
Therefore, that sign also points to us. By
exclaiming together with Christ, "Abba, Father", as adopted children,
we participate in the paschal victory of the cross and the Resurrection, in
which the Mother of God was the first to participate: Mary was assumed into
6. Dear friends, you have gathered here from so
many places; you speak many different languages, you bring with you the
patrimony of so many cultures, of so many historical experiences. In diverse
ways, you and your different societies have experienced and are experiencing
that struggle which throughout all of mankind's history has developed in man
and for man.
Our century has been (and continues to be) a
particular battleground of this struggle. Entire generations have been involved
in this struggle, and today the true protagonists are each and every one of us.
Man was truly created in the image and likeness of God—and at the same
time, man was tempted to transform that image and likeness into a revolt
by turning against his Creator and Redeemer. Man was tempted to reject God. He
was tempted to shape his own destiny, here on earth, as "if God did not
exist": as if God did not exist in all his transcendent reality; as if
his love for mankind did not exist, the love which moved the Father "to
give" his only begotten Son in order that mankind—through him—might
have eternal life in God.
In such a struggle, in the succession of these
spiritual conflicts, so many ways have been used to deprive individuals of
their "adoption as children of God". You, young people, have
come here on a pilgrimage to confirm this adoption as children of
God, to choose it again; to model your life according to it; to approach and
draw others to it.
May you be blessed!
May you be blessed with Mary,
who believed in the fulfilment of the words which were spoken to her by the
May you be blessed! May the sign of a woman
clothed with the sun walk with you, with each and every one of you, along every
road of life. May this lead you to the fulfilment in God of your adoption as
children in Christ.
Truly, the Lord has accomplished great things in
7. Concerning these "great things", my
dear young people, you must be consistent and courageous witnesses in
your surroundings, among your peers, in all of life's circumstances.
Mary is beside you, the Virgin of Nazareth is
docile to every inspiration of the Spirit: she who with her generous
"yes" to God's plan, disclosed to the world the long-awaited prospect
While looking at her—the humble handmaid of the
Lord, today taken up into the glory of heaven—I say to you with St Paul:
"Live by the Spirit" (Gal 5:16)! Let the Spirit of wisdom and
understanding, of counsel and fortitude, of knowledge, of piety and fear of the
Lord (cf. Is 11:2) penetrate your heart and your life, and transform the face of
the earth through you.
As the Bishop told you on the day of your
Confirmation, I tell you again today, dear young people who have gathered here
from every continent: Receive the Holy Spirit! Be renewed by the force
which is sent forth by him, become builders of a new world: a different world,
one which is founded on truth, justice, solidarity and love.
8. This Sixth World Day of Youth is marked by a special
characteristic: it is the first time that such a great number of young
people from Eastern Europe have participated.
How can one not recognize in this a great gift of
the Holy Spirit? Along with you, I wish to thank the Holy Spirit today for this.
After a long period of practically impassable borders, the Church in Europe can
now breathe freely with both of her lungs.
Your presence, my dear young people of Eastern
Europe, takes on particular significance. The universal Church needs the
precious treasure of your Christian witness: a witness for which it was
necessary at times to pay a very high price of suffering, in marginalization,
persecution and even imprisonment.
9. Today, finally, your time has come!
The Church and the Successor of Peter have never
forgotten about you during those harsh years of suffering. Here, at the Shrine
of Jasna Góra, you can now offer the world a public demonstration of your
belonging to Christ and your communion with the Church. Offer it in front of
your peers who have come from every part of the globe and, in a special way,
from the countries of Western Europe.
The old continent is counting on you, young
people of Eastern and Western Europe, to build that "common house"
from which a future of solidarity and peace is awaited. The Church is counting
on you when she gathers at the next Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of
Bishops, to reflect on the consequences of recent changes, and to prepare
appropriate initiatives in order to develop more effective pastoral activity on
For the good of generations to come it is
necessary that the new Europe should be based on those spiritual values which
constitute the innermost core of its traditional culture.
10. A great joy fills my heart in seeing you
together, young people from the East and West, North and South, united by the
faith in Christ, who is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb
13:8). You are the youth of the Church, which is ready to face the new
millennium. You are the Church of tomorrow, the Church of hope!
Dear young people, you know through experience
that the collapse of the ideology of Eastern European countries has left the
feeling of a great vacuum in many of your companions, the impression of having
been deceived, and a depressing anguish in the face of what is to come.
Even in Western European countries, a great many
young people have lost their motivation for living. The drug phenomenon is a
symptom of this profound sense of bewilderment. In the struggle for good, apathy
in politics betrays in many people the sense of helplessness.
You are sent forth as messengers of the Good News
of salvation for these brothers and sisters. They will discover the meaning of
life by encountering Jesus Christ and in knowing their vocation to divine
filiation through your joyful witness. In fact, the thirst for meaning is what
they suffer from and Jesus Christ is the truth that sets us free.
You will extend an invitation to all those who
have been disappointed with the earthly tasks of civilization; together with you
they will be creators of the "civilization of love". The Church's
social teaching—which I recently recalled and confirmed in the Encyclical Centesimus
annus—constitutes the grand programme.
Working generously for the construction of a
society that is marked by the search for justice, harmony, solidarity and peace
is an ideal which reveals to each person the riches of self-giving and service
which he carries within himself.
Everyone will discover the beauty of life by
promoting brotherhood among individuals and peoples, and by generously
committing oneself to helping the poorest.
Dear friends, you are responsible for bearing
this Gospel message which leads to eternal life, and at the same time shows us
the way to live in a more fully human way on this earth. Much of what will be tomorrow
depends on the commitment of today's Christian generation. Above all,
it depends on your commitment, my dear young people, for soon you will have the
responsibility of making decisions on which not only your own fate depends, but
also that of many others.
Therefore, you are given the mission of assuring
the presence of certain values for tomorrow's world, which are: full religious
liberty, the respect for the personal dimension of development, defence of the
right to life from the moment of conception until natural death, the promotion
of the family, appreciation for the diversities which exist between cultures in
order to promote reciprocal enrichment, the safeguarding of the ecological
balance which is threatened by ever greater risks.
11. These are enormous tasks which require
intrepid hearts, capable of "hoping against hope" (cf. Rom 4:18). My
dear young people, you are not alone in this undertaking! At your side is Christ
the Lord who said: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it
were already blazing!" (Lk 12:49). Here is what can strengthen your heart
and encourage it to take on the most difficult tasks: the fire that Jesus
brought, the fire of the Holy Spirit, which will burn away every
human misery, every narrowminded egoism, every mean thought.
Let this fire blaze in your heart.
It is the Virgin Mary who, here in Częstochowa,
has lit it in you.
Take this fire to every part of the globe.
May it never be extinguished by anyone or
Look! Jasna Góra has been the Upper Room for
you. Here is a new Pentecost: once again the Church is gathered together with
Mary, a young, missionary Church, conscious of her mission. Receive the Holy
Spirit and be strong! Amen!