'Come, follow me'
Those who live the
Beatitudes are the true winners in God's kingdom
On Friday morning, 24 March,
the Holy Father went to Korazim in Galilee, where he blessed the
site of the new "Domus Galilaeae", a formation and
conference centre being built by the Neocatechumenal Way, and
celebrated an outdoor Mass with young people on the Mount of the
Beatitudes. After the proclamation of the Gospel (Mt 5:1-12),
the Pope gave the homily in English. Here is the text.
"Consider your calling,
brothers and sisters" (I Cor 1:26).
1. Today these words of Saint Paul are addressed to all of us
who have come here to the Mount of the Beatitudes. We sit on
this hill like the first disciples, and we listen to Jesus. In
the stillness, we hear his gentle and urgent voice, as gentle as
this land itself and as urgent as a call to choose between life
How many generations before us have been deeply moved by the
Sermon on the Mount! How many young people down the centuries
have gathered around Jesus to learn the words of eternal life,
as you are gathered here today! How many young hearts have been
inspired by the power of his personality and the compelling
truth of his message! It is wonderful that you are here!
Thank you, Archbishop Boutros Mouallem, for your kind
welcome. Please take my prayerful greeting to the whole Greek-Melkite
community over which you preside. I greet the members of the
Latin community, including the Hebrew speaking faithful, the
Maronite community, the Syrian community, the Armenian
community, the Chaldean community, and all our brothers and
sisters of the other Christian Churches and Ecclesial
Communities. I extend a special word of thanks to our Muslim
friends who are here, and to the members of the Jewish faith and
to the Druse community.
This great gathering is like a rehearsal for the World Youth
Day to be held in August in Rome! The young man who spoke
promised that you will have another mountain, Mount Sinai!
2. Just a
month ago, I had the grace of going there, where God spoke to
Moses and gave the Law, "written with the finger of
God" (Ex 31:18) on the tablets of stone. These two
mountains—Sinai and the Mount of the Beatitudes—offer us the
roadmap of our Christian life and a summary of our
responsibilities to God and neighbour. The Law and the
Beatitudes together mark the path of the following of Christ and
the royal road to spiritual maturity and freedom.
The Ten Commandments of Sinai may seem negative: "You
will have no false gods before me; . . . do not kill; do not
commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness ...
" (Ex 20:3, 13-16). But in fact they are supremely
positive. Moving beyond the evil they name, they point the way
to the law of love which is the first and greatest of the
commandments: "You will love the Lord your God with all
your heart, all your soul and all your mind. . .You will love
your neighbour as
yourself" (Mt 22:37, 39). Jesus himself says that he
came not to abolish but to fulfil the Law (cf. Mt 5:17).
His message is new but it does not destroy what went before; it
leads what went before to its fullest potential. Jesus teaches
that the way of love brings the Law to fulfilment (cf. Gal
5:14). And he taught this enormously important truth on this
hill here in Galilee.
3. "Blessed are you!", he says, "all you who
are poor in spirit, gentle and merciful, you who mourn, who
for what is right, who are pure in heart, who make peace, you
who are persecuted! Blessed are you!" But the words of
Jesus may seem strange. It is strange that Jesus exalts those
whom the world generally regards as weak. He says to them,
"Blessed are you who seem to be losers, because you are the
true winners: the kingdom of heaven is yours!" Spoken by
him who is "gentle and humble in heart" (Matt 11:29),
these words present a challenge which demand a deep and abiding metanoia
of the spirit, a great change of heart.
You young people will understand why this change of heart is
necessary! Because you are aware of another voice within you and
all around you, a contradictory voice. It is a voice which says,
"BIessed are the proud and violent, those who prosper at
any cost, who are unscrupulous, pitiless, devious, who make war
not peace, and persecute those who stand in their way". And
this voice seems to make sense in a world where the violent
often triumph and the devious seem to succeed. "Yes",
says the voice of evil, "they are the ones who win. Happy
4. Jesus offers a very different message. Not far from this
very place Jesus called his first disciples, as he calls you
now. His call has always demanded a choice between the two
voices competing for your hearts even now on this hill, the
choice between good and evil, between life and death. Which
voice will the young people of the twenty-first century choose
to follow? To put your faith in Jesus means choosing to believe
what he says, no matter how strange it may seem, and
choosing to reject the claims of evil, no matter how sensible or
attractive they may seem.
In the end, Jesus does not merely speak the Beatitudes. He
lives the Beatitudes. He is the Beatitudes. Looking at him you
will see what it means to be poor in spirit, gentle and
merciful, to mourn, to care for what is right, to be pure in
heart, to make peace, to be persecuted. This is why he Jesus has the
right to say, "Come, follow me!" He does not say
simply, "Do what I say". He says, "Come, follow me!"
You hear his voice on this hill, and you believe what he
says. But like the first disciples at the Sea of Galilee, you
must leave your boats and nets behind, and that is never easy—especially
when you face an uncertain future and are tempted to lose faith
in your Christian heritage. To be good Christians may seem
beyond your strength in today’s world. But Jesus does not
stand by and leave you alone to face the challenge. He is always
with you to transform your weakness into strength. Trust him
when he says: "My grace is enough for you, for my power is
made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9)!
5. The disciples spent time with the Lord. They came to know
and love him deeply. They discovered the meaning of what the
Apostle Peter once said to Jesus: "Lord, to whom shall we
go? You have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6:68).
They discovered that the words of eternal life are the words of
Sinai and the words of the Beatitudes. And this is the message
which they spread everywhere.
At the moment of his Ascension Jesus gave his disciples a
mission and this reassurance: "All
power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore
and make disciples of all nations . . . and behold I am with you
always, until the end of the age" (Mt 28:18-20). For 2,000 years Christ's followers have carried out this
mission. Now, at the dawn of the third millennium, it is your
turn. It is your turn to go out into the world to preach the
message of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. When God
speaks, he speaks of things which have the greatest
importance for each person, for the people of the twenty-first
century no less than those of the first century. The Ten
Commandments and the Beatitudes speak of truth and goodness, of
grace and freedom: of all that is necessary to enter into
Christ's Kingdom. Now it is your turn to be courageous apostles
of that Kingdom!
Young people of the Holy Land, Young people of the world:
answer the Lord with a heart that is willing and open! Willing
and open, like the heart of the greatest daughter of Galilee,
Mary, the Mother of Jesus. How did she respond? She said:
"I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me
according to your word" (Lk 1:38).
0 Lord Jesus Christ, in this place that you knew and loved so
well, listen to these generous young hearts! Continue to teach
these young people the truth of the Commandments and the
Beatitudes! Make them joyful witnesses to your truth and
convinced apostles of your Kingdom! Be with them always,
especially when following you and the Gospel becomes difficult
and demanding! You will be their strength; you will be their
0 Lord Jesus, you have made these young people your friends;
keep them for ever close to you! Amen.
At the end of Mass the Pope greeted the many pilgrims
present. To the English-speaking he said:
To the young people from English-speaking parts of the world,
and to all of you, I say: Be worthy followers of Christ! In the
spirit of the Beatitudes, be light for the world!
I thank everyone who had a part in preparing for this
wonderful Mass. God bless you all!
The Holy Father then made an appeal for peace between
Ethiopia and Eritrea:
During these days, my thoughts turn with hope to the
initiatives being taken by the Organization of African Unity to
restore peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea. These efforts have
now reached a very delicate stage. It is a matter of finding a
path that will lead to the conditions necessary for the
well-being and progress of the peoples of the entire region,
already greatly affected by famine. Let us all pray that this
part of the world will work for a just solution.