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SPECIAL: Pope's Message for 2004 World Youth Day

3/5/2004 - 6:00 AM PST

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"We Wish to See Jesus"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2004 (Zenit) - Here is the message John Paul II has sent to the youth of the world for the 19th World Youth Day, to be observed at the diocesan level on Palm Sunday, April 4.

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MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II
TO THE YOUTH OF THE WORLD
ON THE OCCASION
OF THE XIX WORLD YOUTH DAY 2004
"We Wish to See Jesus" (John 12:21)

My dear young people!

1. This year 2004 is the final stage before the great event in Cologne, where the 20th World Youth Day will be celebrated in 2005. I therefore invite you to intensify your path of spiritual preparation by reflecting on the theme I have chosen for this 19th World Youth Day: "We wish to see Jesus" (John 12:21).

This is a request made to the Apostles one day by some "Greeks." They wanted to know who Jesus was. They had come not simply to see what kind of impression the man Jesus would make. Moved by great curiosity and a presentiment that they had found the answer to their deepest questions, they wanted to know who he really was and whence he came.

2. My dear young people, I want you too to imitate those "Greeks" who spoke to Philip, moved by a desire to "see Jesus." May your search be motivated not simply by intellectual curiosity, though that too is something positive, but be stimulated above all by an inner urge to find the answer to the question about the meaning of your life. Like the rich young man in the Gospel, you too should go in search of Jesus to ask him: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). Mark the Evangelist states clearly that Jesus looked at him and loved him.

You may remember another episode in which Jesus says to Nathaniel: "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you," drawing from the heart of that Israelite, in whom there was no guile (cf. John 1:47), a fine profession of faith: "Rabbi, you are the Son of God!" (John 1:49). Those who approach Jesus with a heart free of prejudice can quite easily come to have faith because Jesus himself has already seen them and loved them first. The most sublime aspect of human dignity is precisely man's vocation to communicate with God in a profound exchange of glances that is life transforming. In order to see Jesus, we first need to let him look at us!

The desire to see Jesus dwells deep in the heart of each man and each woman. My dear young people, allow Jesus to gaze into your eyes so that the desire to see the Light, and to experience the splendor of the Truth, may grow within you. Whether we are aware of it or not, God has created us because he loves us and so that we in turn may love him. This is the reason for the unquenchable nostalgia for God that man preserves in his heart: "Your face, Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me" (Psalm 27:8-9). That Face -- we know -- was revealed to us by God in Jesus Christ.

3. My dear young people, don't you too wish to contemplate the beauty of that Face? That is the question I address to you on this World Youth Day 2004. Don't be too hasty in your reply. First of all, create a silence within yourselves. Allow this ardent desire to see God emerge from the depth of your hearts, a desire that is sometimes stifled by the distractions of the world and by the allurements of pleasures. Allow this desire to emerge and you will have the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus. Christianity is not simply a doctrine: it is an encounter in faith with God made present in our history through the incarnation of Jesus.

Try by every means to make this encounter possible, and look towards Jesus who is passionately seeking you. Seek him with the eyes of the flesh through the events of life and in the faces of others; but seek him too with the eyes of the soul through prayer and meditation on the Word of God, because "The contemplation of Christ's face cannot fail to be inspired by all that we are told about him in Sacred Scripture" ("Novo Millennio Ineunte," 17).

4. To see Jesus, to contemplate his Face, is an unquenchable desire, but it is a desire that man unfortunately may also deform. This is what happens with sin, because it is the very essence of sin to draw our eyes away from the Creator and to turn them towards what he has created.

Those "Greeks" in search of the truth would not have been able to approach Christ if their desire, animated by a free and voluntary act, had not been expressed through a clear decision: "We wish to see Jesus." To be truly free means having the strength to choose the One for whom we were created and accepting his lordship over our lives. You perceive it in the depths of your heart: all that is good on earth, all professional success, even the human love that you dream of, can never fully satisfy your deepest and most ...

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