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John Paul II's Message for 18th World Youth Day - Behold, Your Mother!

3/24/2003 - 4:20 PM PST

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John Paul II's Message for 18th World Youth Day

"Behold, Your Mother!"


VATICAN CITY, MARCH 19, 2003 - Here is John Paul II's Message for the 18th World Youth Day, which will take place at the diocesan level April 13.

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"Behold, Your Mother!" (Jn 19,27)

My dear young people!


1. It always gives me great joy to address a special message to you on the occasion of World Youth Day. It is also a way to show you the extent of my affection for you. The vivid recollection of my experiences during our World Youth Day meetings is impressed on my memory: young people and the Pope together, and a large gathering of Bishops and priests, all with our gaze on Christ, light of the world, invoking him and proclaiming him to the entire human family. While I give thanks to God for the witness of faith that you have given once again recently in Toronto, I renew the invitation I made to you on the banks of Lake Ontario: "the Church today looks to you with confidence and expects you to be the people of the Beatitudes!" (Exhibition Place, 25 July 2002; ORE, 31 July 2002, p. 6).

For the 18th World Youth Day that will be celebrated in dioceses all over the world, I have chosen a theme related to the Year of the Rosary: "Behold, your mother!" (Jn 19,27). Before his death, Jesus entrusted to the apostle John what was most precious to him: his Mother, Mary. These are the final words of the Redeemer, and therefore they take on a solemn nature and could be regarded as his spiritual testimony.

2. The angel Gabriel's words in Nazareth: "Hail, full of grace" (Lk 1,28) also cast light on the scene at Calvary. The Annunciation comes at the beginning, the Cross signals the fulfillment. At the Annunciation, Mary gives human nature to the Son of God within her womb; at the foot of the Cross, she welcomes the whole of humanity within her heart in the person of John. She was Mother of God from the first moments of the Incarnation, and she became the Mother of humanity during the final moments of the life of her Son Jesus on earth. She, who was without sin, on Calvary "experienced" within her own being the suffering of sin that her Son had taken upon himself to save humankind. At the foot of the Cross on which was dying the One whom she had conceived at the moment of her "yes" at the Annunciation, Mary received, as it were, a "second annunciation": "Woman, behold, your son!" (Jn 19,26).

The Son upon the Cross can pour out his suffering into his Mother's heart. Every child who suffers experiences that need. You too, my dear young people, are faced with suffering: loneliness, failures and disappointments in your personal lives; difficulties in inserting yourselves in the adult world and in professional life: the separations and losses in your families; the violence of war and the death of the innocent. Know, however, that in difficult times, which everyone experiences, you are not alone: like John at the foot of the Cross, Jesus also gives his Mother to you so that she will comfort you with her tenderness.

3. It says in the Gospel that "from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (Jn 19,27). This statement, the subject of many commentaries since early Christian times, does not simply point out the place where John lived. Beyond the material aspect, it evokes the spiritual dimension of this welcome and of the new bond established between Mary and John.

My dear young people, you are more or less the same age as John and you have the same desire to be with Jesus. Today, it is you whom Jesus expressly asks to receive Mary "into your home" and to welcome her "as one of yours"; to learn from her the one who "kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk 2,19) that inner disposition to listen and the attitude of humility and generosity that singled her out as God's first collaborator in the work of salvation. She will discharge her ministry as a mother and train you and mould you until Christ is fully formed in you (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 15).

4. This is why I now wish to repeat the motto of my episcopal and pontifical service: "Totus tuus". Throughout my life I have experienced the loving and forceful presence of the Mother of Our Lord. Mary accompanies me every day in the fulfillment of my mission as Successor of Peter.

Mary is Mother of divine grace, because she is the Mother of the Author of grace. Entrust yourselves to her with complete confidence! You will be radiant with the beauty of Christ. Open up to the breath of the Spirit, and you will become courageous apostles, capable of spreading the fire of charity and the light of truth all around you. In Mary's school, you will discover the specific commitment that Christ expects of you, and you will learn to put Christ first in your lives, and to direct your thoughts and ...

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