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Easter - Pasqua - Pâques - in the Jubilee 2000

Pope St John Paul II's homily at the Easter Vigil
St Peter's Basilica, 22 April 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

1 “You have a guard of soldiers; go and secure the tomb as best as you can” (Mt 27, 65).

Jesus' tomb had been closed and sealed. At the request of the chief priests and the Pharisees, soldiers were placed on guard, lest anyone steal the body (Mt 27, 62-64). This is the event from which the liturgy of the Easter Vigil begins.

Those who had sought the death of Christ, those who considered him an “imposter” (Mt 27, 62), were keeping watch beside the tomb. They wanted Him and his message to be buried for ever. 
Not far away, Mary was keeping watch, and with her the Apostles and a few women. In their hearts they pondered the distressing events which had just taken place.

2. The Church keeps watch this night, in every corner of the world, and she relives the principal stages of salvation history. The solemn liturgy which we are celebrating is the expression of this “keeping watch” which, in a way, evokes the watch kept by God Himself. The Book of Exodus tells us: “It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. This night is a night of watching kept to the Lord in every generation” (Ex 12, 42).

In his provident and faithful love, which transcends time and space, God keeps watch over the world. As the Psalmist sings: “He sleeps not nor slumbers, Israel’s guard... The Lord is your guard ... The Lord will guard you... both now and for ever” (Ps 121, 4-5,8).

The passage from the second to the thirrd millennium, which we are living, is also guarded in the mystery of the Father. He “is working still” (Jn 5, 17) for the salvation of the world, and through his Incarnate Son He leads his people from slavery to freedom, from death to life. All the “work” of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 is in some way linked to this night of Vigil, which brings to fulfilment the night of the Lord’s Nativity. Bethlehem and Calvary evoke the same mystery of the love of God, who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3, 16).

3. In her vigil, on this Holy Night, the Church closely scrutinizes the texts of Sacred Scripture. They portray God’s plan from Genesis to the Gospel and, together with the liturgical rites of fire and water, give this remarkable celebration a cosmic dimension. The whole created universe is summoned to keep watch this night at the tomb of Christ. The history of salvation passes before our eyes, from Creation to the Redemption, from the Exodus to the Covenant on Mount Sinai, from the Old to the New and Eternal Covenant. On this Holy Night, God’s eternal plan reaches fulfilment, the plan which embraces the history of humanity and of the cosmos.

4. At the Easter Vigil, “the mother of all vigils”, everyone can likewise acknowledge their own personal history of salvation, which has its basic moment in our rebirth in Christ through Baptism.

In a very special way, this is your experience too, dear brothers and sisters who are about to receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. You come from various countries throughout the world: Japan, China, Cameroon, Albania and Italy.

The variety of your native countries highlights the universality of the salvation brought by Christ. Soon, dear friends, you will be intimately inserted into the mystery of the love of God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. May your lives become a song of praise to the Most Holy Trinity and a witness of love which knows no frontiers.

5. “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world: come, let us worship!” Yesterday the Church chanted these words, lifting up the wood of the Cross, “on which hung Christ, the Saviour of the world”. “He was crucified, died and was buried”, as we say in the Creed.

The sepulchre! Behold the place where they buried him (cf Mk 16, 6). There the community of the Church throughout the world is spiritually present. We too are there with the three women going to the sepulchre before dawn to anoint the lifeless body of Jesus (cf Mk 16, 1). Their loving concern is our concern too. With them we discover that the large tombstone has been rolled away and that the body is no longer there. “He is not here”, the angel proclaims, pointing to the empty tomb and the winding cloth on the ground. Death no longer has power over him (cf Rom 6, 9).

Christ is risen! So the Church proclaims, at the end of this Easter night, even as yesterday she proclaimed Christ’s death on the Cross. It is a proclamation of truth and life.

"Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro, qui pro nobis pependit in ligno. Alleluia!" The Lord, who for us was nailed to the Cross, is risen from the tomb!

Yes, Christ is truly risen and we are witnesses of this.

We proclaim this witness to the world, so that the joy which is ours will reach countless other hearts, kindling in them the light of the hope which does not disappoint.

Christ is risen, alleluia!"

St John Paul II's Urbi et Orbi Message on Easter Sunday in the Jubilee
St Peter's Square, 23rd April 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

1. “Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando ...”
“Death and Life have contended
in a prodigious duel:
The Lord of life was dead;
but now, he lives, triumphant” (Easter Sequence).
Today, the Church stops,
once again stupefied,
near the empty tomb.
Like Mary Magdalen and the other women,
who came to anoint with aromas
the body of the Crucified One,
like the Apostles Peter and John,
who came running at the word of the women,
the Church bows before the tomb
in which her Lord was deposed
after the crucifixion.
A month ago, a pilgrim in the Holy Land,
I had the grace of kneeling
before the stone slab
which marks the place where Jesus was buried.
Today, the Sunday of the Resurrection,
I make my own the announcement of the heavenly messenger:
“He is risen, he is not here” (Mk 16, 6).
Yes, life and death have confronted
and Life has triumphed for ever.
Everything is newly oriented to life,
to Eternal Life!

2. “Victimae paschali laudes immolent christiani ....”
“To the paschal victim
offer today the sacrifice of praise.
The Lamb has redeemed his sheep,
the Innocent One has reconciled us sinners to the Father”.
The words of the paschal Sequence
express marvellously the mystery
which is accomplished in the Passover of Christ.
They point to the renewing force
which is released from his resurrection.
With the weapons of love,
God has defeated sin and death.
The eternal Son, who emptied himself
to become the obedient servant
all the way to death on the cross (cf Phil 2, 7-8),
has conquered evil at its roots
by opening to contrite hearts the path of return to the Father.
He is the Gate of Life
who at Easter triumphs over the gates of hell.
He is the Door of salvation open for everyone,
the Door of divine mercy,
who projects a new light onto human existence.

3. The Risen Christ signals the paths of hope
along which we advance together
towards a world more just and united,
where the blind egoism of the few
will not prevail over the cries of pain of the many,
reducing entire peoples
to conditions of demeaning misery.
May the message of life, proclaimed by an angel
near the stone rolled away from the tomb,
defeat the hardness of hearts;
lead to overcoming unjustified barriers
and promote a fruitful exchange between peoples and cultures.
May the image of the new man,
which shines on the face of Christ,
cause everyone to acknowledge
the intangible value of human life;
may it inspire adequate responses
to the increasingly felt demands
for justice and equal opportunity
in the various areas of social life;
may it move individuals and States
to full respect for the essential and authentic rights
rooted in the very nature of the human being.

4. Lord Jesus, our Peace (Eph 2, 14),
Word incarnate two thousand years ago,
who by rising have conquered evil and sin,
grant to humanity of the third millennium
a just and lasting peace;
bring to a good outcome the dialogues undertaken
by men of good will who,
despite so many perplexities and difficulties,
mean to bring an end to the troubling conflicts in Africa,
the armed clashes in some countries of Latin America,
the persistent tensions affecting
the Middle East, vast areas of Asia,
and some regions in Europe.
Help the nations to overcome old and new rivalries,
by rejecting feelings of racism and xenophobia.
May all the earth,
inundated by the splendour of the resurrection,
rejoice because “the light of the eternal King
has vanquished the darkness of the world” (Easter Proclamation).
Yes, Christ has risen victorious,
and has offered to man,
Adam’s heir in sin and death,
a new heritage of life and glory.

5. “Ubi est mors stimulus tuus?”
“Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55),
exclaims the Apostle Paul,
touched on the road to Damascus by the light of the risen Christ.
His cry echoes down the centuries
as the proclamation of life for the whole of human civilization.
We too, the men and women of the 21st century,
are invited to become conscious
of this victory of Christ over death,
revealed to the women of Jerusalem and to the Apostles,
when they came with trepidation to the tomb.
The experience of these eye-witnesses, through the Church, has come down to us.
It is expressed in a significant way
in the path of the pilgrims who,
in this year of the Great Jubilee,
are crossing through the Holy Door,
and departing with more courage
to build roads of reconciliation with God and with their brothers.
At the heart of this Year of grace,
may the announcement of Christ’s disciples resonate more strongly,
a communal proclamation, beyond all divisions,
in the ardent desire for full communion:
“Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere”.
“Yes, of this we are certain: Christ is truly risen.
You, victorious King, bring us your salvation.” Amen."

Papa San Juan Pablo II's words at the Regina Coeli on Easter Monday
24th April 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. The paschal joy still pervades with Easter joy on this Monday of the Easter Octave, called "Monday of the Angel". After the time of Lent, which the Church lived with particular intensity in this Jubilee Year, after the strong emotions of the Sacred Triduum, we pause also today in meditation before the empty tomb, attracted by the radiant mystery of the resurrection of the Lord.

Life has conquered death. We need faith to open ourselves to this new and marvellous horizon. Let us allow ourselves to be penetrated by the thoughts and emotions that vibrate in the Easter sequence: "Yes, we are certain: Christ is truly risen." This truth marked the life of the Apostles who, after the Resurrection, felt rekindled in their hearts the desire to follow their Teacher and, having received the Holy Spirit, went without delay to proclaim to everyone what they had personally seen and experienced.

2. Dearest Brothers and Sisters, once again the comforting announcement of the Resurrection has rung out for us: "Christ, my hope, is arisen." If Christ is risen, we can look with new eyes and hearts at every event in our existence. This is the paschal message I would like to send to the people of the whole world.

These are also my Easter wishes, which I renew to you all affectionately on this day, in which the liturgy reminds us of the words of the angel to the three women weeping beside the empty tomb. As the Gospel recalls, they went early in the morning to the tomb and there received from a "young man ... dressed in a white robe" the news that changed the course of history: "Do not be afraid! You seek Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here" (cf Mk 16, 6).

3. He has risen. This is the centre of our faith. The silent witness to all these events was Mary. Let us ask her to help us also to receive the fullness of this paschal message.

"Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia - Rejoice, Queen of heaven, alleluia!". With this prayer, which replaces the Angelus, we turn to her throughout the Easter season. The joy of the Virgin contains within it everything for which the Church rejoices: every good of grace and of nature. Let us therefore invoke her, with faith and devotion: Regina caeli laetare, alleluia!"

2nd Sunday of Easter, Albi Sunday - Divine Mercy Sunday

The Feast of Divine Mercy was celebrated for the first time on the 2nd Sunday of Easter in the Jubilee 2000, when Pope St John Paul II canonized Faustina Kowalska, the 'apostle of Divine Mercy'.

Papa JPII's words at the Regina Coeli on III Sunday of Easter
Sunday 7th May 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters!
1. This evening at the Colosseum an important event of the Great Jubilee will take place: the Ecumenical Commemoration of Witnesses to the Faith in the 20th Century.

The century just ended was marked by dark shadows, but bright lights shone in the midst of them. They are the many men and women, Christians of every denomination, race and age who witnessed to the faith during harsh persecutions, in prison, amid privations of every kind, and many also shed their blood to remain faithful to Christ, to the Church and to the Gospel.

The light of Easter itself shines brightly in them: indeed, it is from Christ's Resurrection that the disciples receive the strength to follow the Master in times of trial. This is why the commemoration is taking place in the liturgical season of Easter, whose third Sunday occurs today. And the place chosen speaks for itself: the Colosseum takes us back to the origins of Christianity, when so many early Christians bore their "beautiful witness" and became the seed of new believers.

2. Remembering the heroic witnesses to the faith in the 20th century means preparing the future and assuring it solid reasons for hope. The new generations must know the cost of the faith they have inherited, if they are to receive the torch of the Gospel with gratitude and shed its light on the new century and the new millennium.

It is important, moreover, to underline that this evening's celebration will have an ecumenical character: the testimonies of a number of Christians of various Confessions and ecclesial Communities will be proclaimed. Their courage in taking the Cross of Christ upon themselves speaks louder than the things which divide us: the ecumenism of the martyrs is perhaps the most convincing (cf Tertio millennio adveniente, 37). Love to the point of sacrifice purifies the Churches from all that can hinder or delay the journey towards full unity.

3. Among the lights of Christ's heroic disciples that of Mary, the faithful Virgin, martyr at the foot of the Cross, shines with singular brightness. From the fiat in Nazareth to the one on Calvary, her whole life was patterned by the Holy Spirit on that of her Son in bearing witness to God the Father and to his merciful love.

In the first community of Jerusalem Mary represented the living memory of Jesus, of his Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection. When put to the test, every believer and every Christian community find support and comfort in the Blessed Virgin. To you, Mother of Hope, we entrust this day, so that the memory of these witnesses to the faith can help all Christians to walk with greater determination towards the full unity desired by Christ."

After the Regina Caeli

"I extend a cordial welcome to the German-speaking pilgrims. I first welcome the pilgrims from the Diocese of Magdeburg, accompanied by their Bishop Leopold Nowak. May the Lord strengthen you on your faith journey in an environment where many people live as though God did not exist. I wish you great strength and courage!

I affectionately greet the faithful from the Diocese of Orvieto-Todi, led by Bishop Decio Lucio Grandoni and their priests. In particular, I congratulate the middle-school children from Acquasparta who have come here on foot with some of their teachers. The Lord bless you!

I thank the many bands from the Province of Rome for their lively concert on the occasion of the Jubilee. I think that St Peter's Square has seldom held so many bands at one time! I extend my best wishes to the musicians, the organizers and their families.

I greet the Italian seminarians who are taking part in the meeting of the Pontifical Mission Societies, as well as the movement, "Long Live the Elderly", of the Sant'Egidio Community, and the pilgrims who have come by bicycle from Treviso.

My thoughts now turn to the many participants in the Jubilee pilgrimage of the Archdiocese of Turin; to the parish groups from Gela and Montegranaro; to the children and their parents from St John Chrysostom Parish in Rome; to the young people confirmed and soon to be confirmed from Valenzano; to the scout group from Atessa (Chieti); and to the children of the De Pino Institute of Maratea, accompanied by the Daughters of Our Lady on Mount Calvary."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's homily on 3rd Sunday of Easter
at the Ecumenical Commemoration of the Witnesses to the Faith in the 20th Century
The Colosseum, Rome, 7th May 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12, 24). With these words on the eve of his Passion, Jesus foretells his glorification through his death. We have just heard this challenging truth in the Gospel acclamation. It resounds forcefully tonight in this significant place, where we remember the “witnesses to the faith in the twentieth century”.

Christ is the grain of wheat who by dying has borne fruits of everlasting life. And down the centuries his disciples have followed in the footsteps of the Crucified King, becoming a numberless multitude “from every nation, race, people and language”: apostles and confessors of the faith, virgins and martyrs, bold heralds of the Gospel and silent servants of the Kingdom.

Dearest Brothers and Sisters, united by faith in Jesus Christ! I am especially happy today to offer you my brotherly embrace of peace, as we commemorate together the witnesses to the faith in the twentieth century. I warmly greet the representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of the other Orthodox Sister Churches, as well as those of the ancient Churches of the East. I likewise thank the representatives of the Anglican Communion, of the worldwide Christian Communities of the West and of the Ecumenical Organizations for their fraternal presence.

Gathered as we are at the Colosseum for this meaningful jubilee celebration, our coming together this evening is for all of us a source of great emotion. The monuments and ruins of ancient Rome speak to humanity of the sufferings and persecutions endured with fortitude by our forebears in the faith, the Christians of the first generations. These ancient remains remind us how true are the words of Tertullian who wrote: “sanguis martyrum semen christianorum” — the blood of the martyrs is the seed of new Christians (Apol, 50,13).

2. The experience of the martyrs and the witnesses to the faith is not a characteristic only of the Church’s beginnings but marks every epoch of her history. In the twentieth century, and maybe even more than in the first period of Christianity, there has been a vast number of men and women who bore witness to the faith through sufferings that were often heroic. How many Christians in the course of the twentieth century, on every continent, showed their love of Christ by the shedding of blood! They underwent forms of persecution both old and new, they experienced hatred and exclusion, violence and murder. Many countries of ancient Christian tradition once more became lands where fidelity to the Gospel demanded a very high price. In our century “the witness to Christ borne even to the shedding of blood has become a common inheritance of Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants” (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 37).

The generation to which I belong experienced the horror of war, the concentration camps, persecution. In my homeland, during the Second World War, priests and Christians were deported to extermination camps. In Dachau alone some 3,000 priests were interned. Their sacrifice was joined to that of many Christians from other European countries, some of whom belonged to other Churches and ecclesial Communities.

I myself am a witness of much pain and many trials, having seen these in the years of my youth. My priesthood, from its very beginning, was marked “by the great sacrifice of countless men and women of my generation” (Gift and Mystery, p39). The experience of the Second World War and of the years following brought me to consider carefully and with gratitude the shining example of those who, from the beginning of the twentieth century to its end, met persecution, violence, death, because of their faith and because their behaviour was inspired by the truth of Christ.

3. And there are so many of them! They must not be forgotten, rather they must be remembered and their lives documented. The names of many are unknown; the names of some have been denigrated by their persecutors, who tried to add disgrace to martyrdom; the names of others have been concealed by their executioners. But Christians preserve the memory of a great number of them. This is shown by the numerous replies to the invitation not to forget, received by the “New Martyrs” Commission within the Committee for the Great Jubilee. The Commission has worked hard to enrich and update the Church’s memory with the witness of all those people, even those who are unknown, who “risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15, 26). Yes, as the Orthodox Metropolitan Benjamin of Saint Petersburg, martyred in 1922, wrote on the eve of his execution: “The times have changed and it has become possible to suffer much for love of Christ ...” With the same conviction, from his cell in Buchenwald, the Lutheran Pastor Paul Schneider asserted once more in the presence of his prison guards: “Thus says the Lord, 'I am the resurrection and the life!’”

The presence of representatives of other Churches and ecclesial Communities gives today’s celebration particular significance and eloquence in this Jubilee Year 2000. It shows that the example of the heroic witnesses to the faith is truly precious for all Christians. In the twentieth century, almost all the Churches and ecclesial Communities have known persecution, uniting Christians in their places of suffering and making their shared sacrifice a sign of hope for times still to come.

These brothers and sisters of ours in faith, to whom we turn today in gratitude and veneration, stand as a vast panorama of Christian humanity in the twentieth century, a panorama of the Gospel of the Beatitudes, lived even to the shedding of blood.

4. “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5, 11-12). How well these words of Christ fit the countless witnesses to the faith in the last century, insulted and persecuted, but never broken by the power of evil!

Where hatred seemed to corrupt the whole of life leaving no escape from its logic, they proved that “love is stronger than death”. Within terrible systems of oppression which disfigured man, in places of pain, amid the hardest of privations, through senseless marches, exposed to cold and hunger, tortured, suffering in so many ways, they loudly proclaimed their loyalty to Christ crucified and risen. In a few moments we shall hear some of their striking testimonies.

So many refused to yield to the cult of the idols of the twentieth century and were sacrificed by communism, nazism, by the idolatry of State or race. Many others fell in the course of ethnic or tribal wars, because they had rejected a way of thinking foreign to the Gospel of Christ. Some went to their death because, like the Good Shepherd, they decided to remain with their people, despite intimidation. On every continent and throughout the entire twentieth century, there have been those who preferred to die rather than betray the mission which was theirs. Men and women religious lived their consecration to the shedding of blood. Men and women believers died offering their lives for love of their brothers and sisters, especially the poorest and the weakest. Many women lost their lives in order to defend their dignity and purity.

5. “Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn 12, 25). A few minutes ago we listened to these words of Christ. They contain a truth which today’s world often scorns and rejects, making love of self the supreme criterion of life. But the witnesses to the faith, who also this evening speak to us by their example, did not consider their own advantage, their own well-being, their own survival as greater values than fidelity to the Gospel. Despite all their weakness, they vigorously resisted evil. In their fragility there shone forth the power of faith and of the Lord’s grace.

Dearest Brothers and Sisters, the precious heritage which these courageous witnesses have passed down to us is a patrimony shared by all the Churches and ecclesial Communities. It is a heritage which speaks more powerfully than all the causes of division. The ecumenism of the martyrs and the witnesses to the faith is the most convincing of all; to the Christians of the twenty-first century it shows the path to unity. It is the heritage of the Cross lived in the light of Easter: a heritage which enriches and sustains Christians as they go forward into the new millennium.

If we glory in this heritage it is not because of any partisan spirit and still less because of any desire for vengeance upon the persecutors, but in order to make manifest the extraordinary power of God, who has not ceased to act in every time and place. We do this as we ourselves offer pardon, faithful to the example of the countless witnesses killed even as they prayed for their persecutors.

6. In the century and the millennium just begun may the memory of these brothers and sisters of ours remain always vivid. Indeed, may it grow still stronger! Let it be passed on from generation to generation, so that from it there may blossom a profound Christian renewal! Let it be guarded as a treasure of consummate value for the Christians of the new millennium, and let it become the leaven for bringing all Christ’s disciples into full communion!

It is with a heart filled with deep emotion that I express this hope. I pray to the Lord that the cloud of witnesses which surrounds us will help all of us who believe to express with no less courage our own love for Christ, for him who is ever alive in his Church: as he was yesterday, and is today, and will be tomorrow and for ever!"

Papa San Juan Pablo II's homily on 5th Sunday of Easter
with the Canonization of 27 Blesseds from Mexico
St Peter's, 21st May 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth" (1 Jn 3, 18). This exhortation taken from the Apostle John in the second reading of this Mass invites us to imitate Christ and to live in close union with him. Jesus himself also told us this in the Gospel just proclaimed: "As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" (Jn 15, 4).

Through profound union with Christ, begun in Baptism and nourished by prayer, the sacraments and the practice of the Gospel virtues, men and women of all times, as children of the Church, have reached the goal of holiness. They are saints because they put God at the centre of their lives and made seeking and extending his kingdom the purpose of their existence; saints because their deeds continue to speak of their total love for the Lord and for their brethren by bearing abundant fruits, thanks to their living faith in Jesus Christ and their commitment to loving as he loved us, including their enemies.

2. During the Jubilee pilgrimage of Mexicans, the Church rejoices in canonizing these children of Mexico: Cristóbal Magallanes and his 24 companion martyrs, priests and laymen; José María de Yermo y Parres, priest and founder of the Religious Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas, foundress of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

You Mexican pilgrims have come in great numbers, accompanied by a large group of Bishops, to take part in this solemn celebration honouring the memory of these illustrious children of the Church and of your homeland. I greet you all affectionately. The Church in Mexico rejoices at relying on these intercessors in heaven, models of supreme charity who followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. They all dedicated their lives to God and their brethren through martyrdom or by generously serving the needy. The firmness of their faith and hope sustained them in the various trials they had to endure. They are a precious legacy, a fruit of the faith rooted in the lands of Mexico, a faith which, at the dawn of the third millennium of Christianity, must be preserved and revitalized so that you may continue to be faithful to Christ and to his Church as you were in the past. Mexico ever faithful!

3. In the first reading we heard how Paul moved about Jerusalem, "preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists; but they were seeking to kill him" (Acts 9, 28-29). Paul's mission prepares for the growth of the Church, which will take the Gospel message everywhere. And in this expansion, persecution and violence against those who preached the Good News were not lacking. But despite human adversities, the Church relies on the promise of divine help. This is why we heard that "the Church ... had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it was multiplied" (Acts 9, 31).

We can well apply this passage from the Acts of the Apostles to the situation which Cristóbal Magallanes and his 24 companion martyrs had to endure in the first 30 years of the 20th century.

Most of them belonged to the secular clergy and three were laymen seriously committed to helping priests. They did not stop courageously exercising their ministry when religious persecution intensified in the beloved land of Mexico, unleashing hatred of the Catholic religion. They all freely and calmly accepted martyrdom as a witness to their faith, explicitly forgiving their persecutors. Faithful to God and to the Catholic faith so deeply rooted in the ecclesial communities which they served by also promoting their material well-being, today they are an example to the whole Church and to Mexican society in particular.

After the harsh trials that the Church endured in Mexico during those turbulent years, today Mexican Christians, encouraged by the witness of these witnesses to the faith, can live in peace and harmony, contributing the wealth of Gospel values to society. The Church grows and advances, since she is the crucible in which many priestly and religious vocations are born, where families are formed according to God's plan, and where young people, a substantial part of the Mexican population, can grow up with the hope of a better future. May the shining example of Cristóbal Magallanes and his companion martyrs help you to make a renewed commitment of fidelity to God, which can continue to transform Mexican society so that justice, fraternity and harmony will prevail among all.

4. "This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us" (1 Jn 3, 23). The command par excellence that Jesus gave to his disciples is to love one another fraternally as he has loved us (cf Jn 15, 12). In the second reading we heard, the command has a twofold aspect: to believe in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, confessing him at every moment, and to love one another because Christ himself has commanded us to do so. This command is so fundamental to the lives of believers that it becomes the prerequisite for the divine indwelling. Faith, hope and love lead to the existential acceptance of God as the sure path to holiness.

It could be said that this was the path taken by José María de Yermo y Parres, who lived his priestly commitment to Christ by following him with all his might, distinguishing himself at the same time by an essentially prayerful and contemplative attitude. In the Heart of Christ he found guidance for his spirituality and, in reflecting on his infinite love for men, he desired to imitate him by making charity the rule of his life.

The new saint founded the Religious Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Poor, a name which combines the two great loves that express the new saint's spirit and charism in the Church.

Dear daughters of St José María de Yermo y Parres, generously live your founder's rich heritage, beginning with fraternal communion in community and extending it in merciful love to your brothers and sisters with humility, simplicity, effectiveness and, above all, perfect union with God.

5. "Abide in me, and I in you.... He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15, 4,5). In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus urged us to abide in him in order to unite all men and women with him. This invitation requires us to fulfil our baptismal commitment by living in his love, drawing inspiration from his Word, being nourished by the Eucharist, receiving his forgiveness and, when necessary, carrying the cross with him. Separation from God is the greatest tragedy a person can experience. The sap that flows to the branch makes it grow; the grace that comes to us through Christ makes us grow to adulthood so that we can bear fruits of eternal life.

St María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas, the first Mexican woman to be canonized, knew how to remain united to Christ during her long earthly life and thus she bore abundant fruits of eternal life. Her spirituality was marked by an exceptional Eucharistic piety, since it is clear that an excellent way to union with the Lord is to seek him, to adore him, to love him in the most holy mystery of his real presence in the Sacrament of the Altar.

She wanted to continue his work by founding the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who today in the Church follow her charism of charity to the poor and the sick. Indeed, the love of God is universal; it is meant for all human beings and for this reason the new saint understood that it was her duty to spread it, generously caring for everyone until the end of her days, even when her physical energy was declining and the heavy trials that she had to endure throughout her life had sapped her strength. Very faithful in her observance of the Constitutions, respectful to Bishops and priests, attentive to seminarians, St María de Jesús Sacramentado is an eloquent example of total dedication to the service of God and to suffering humanity.

6. This solemn celebration reminds us that faith involves a deep relationship with the Lord. The new saints teach us that the true followers and disciples of Jesus are those who do God's will and are united with him through faith and grace.

Listening to God's word, living one's life in harmony with it and giving priority to Christ configure a human being's life to him. "Abide in me and I in you" continues to be Jesus' invitation and must constantly echo in each of us and in our surroundings. St Paul, in accepting this call, could exclaim: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2, 20). May the Word of God proclaimed in this liturgy make our lives authentic by remaining existentially one with the Lord, loving not only in word, but in deed and in truth (cf 1 Jn 3, 18). Thus our life will truly be "through Christ, with him and in him".

We are celebrating the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. One of its aims is to "inspire in all the faithful a true longing for holiness" (Tertio millennio adveniente, 42). May the example of these new saints, a gift of the Church in Mexico to the universal Church, spur all the faithful, using all the means within their reach and especially with the help of God's grace, to seek holiness with courage and determination.

May Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom the martyrs prayed at the supreme moment of their sacrifice and to whom St José María de Yermo and St María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas professed such tender devotion, accompany with her motherly protection the good intentions of all who honour the new saints today, and help those who follow their example. May she also guide and protect the Church so that, through her evangelizing activity and the Christian witness of all her children, she may light humanity's path in the third Christian millennium. Amen."

Pope St John Paul II's words at the Regina Coeli on V Sunday of Easter
St Peter's Square, Sunday 21st May 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. At this moment my heart turns to the hill of Tepeyac. Before the tilma with the image of the Mother of God so greatly revered by all the peoples of America, I implore her motherly protection upon the Church. As I once again greet all the Mexican pilgrims with great affection, I encourage you to remember the example of these new saints. Through their intercession may Mexico always remain faithful, and on her soil may Christians of the stature of these canonized saints and of other great children of the Church in this land continue to increase.

2. At the end of this solemn celebration, our thoughts and prayers turn to the Queen of Heaven in a spirit of gratitude for her motherly assistance in accompanying the new saints on their way to Christian perfection. As children of the Church in Mexico, they always loved Our Lady and called upon her, especially under the beautiful title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To her, the Star of Evangelization on the American continent, we entrust one of the fundamental goals of the Great Jubilee: that of "inspiring in all the faithful a true longing for holiness" (Tertio millennio adveniente, 42).

3. Next Sunday, at 10 am in this Square, I will have the joy of celebrating the Jubilee for this beloved diocese of Rome, whose guidance the Lord entrusted to me 22 years ago.

Let us pray for the grace and blessings of the Lord upon both the Church and the city of Rome, so that this Holy Year, carefully prepared with the diocesan Synod and the City Mission, may be an event of faith and conversion for Romans, and bear good fruits for themselves and their families, as well as for the whole life of this beloved city.

As I invite all the People of God to take part, I entrust this great Jubilee event to the intercession of Mary, Salus Populi Romani."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's homily for the Jubilee of the diocese of Rome
St Peter's, VI Sunday of Easter, 28th May 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love" (Jn 15, 9). Christ, on the eve of his death, opens his heart to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. He leaves them his spiritual testament. In the Easter season the Church constantly returns in spirit to the Upper Room, to listen again with reverence to the Lord's words and to draw light and strength from them for her journey on the paths of the world.

Today our Church of Rome, which is celebrating her Jubilee, returns with trembling heart to the Upper Room. She returns there to be summoned by the divine Master, to meditate on his words and to discover the most fitting response to what he asks of her.

The words that our Church hears today on her Lord's lips are strong and clear: "Abide in my love!... This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15, 9,12). How could we not feel that Jesus' words are meant particularly for us? Does the Church of Rome not have the specific task of "presiding in charity" over the entire Christian world (cf St Ignatius, Ad Rom, Pref)? Yes, the commandment of love involves our Church of Rome with special force and urgency.

And love is demanding. Christ says: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15, 13). Love will lead Jesus to the cross. Every disciple must remember this. Love comes from the Upper Room and leads back to the Upper Room. In fact, after the Resurrection it will be in the Upper Room again that the Apostles will think back to the words Jesus spoke on Holy Thursday and will become aware of their salvific meaning. By accepting and reciprocating Christ's love, from now on they are his friends: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" (Jn 15, 15).

Gathered in the Upper Room after the divine Master's Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, the Apostles will fully understand the meaning of his words: "I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (Jn 15, 16). By the action of the Holy Spirit these words will make them the saving community which is the Church. The Apostles will understand that they have been chosen for a special mission, to bear witness to love: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love".

Today this message is passed on to us: as Christians we are called to be witnesses to love. This is the "fruit" which we are called to bear, and it is this fruit which "abides" in time and in eternity!

2. The second reading from the Acts of the Apostles speaks of the apostolic mission which flows from this love. Peter, sent for by the Roman centurion Cornelius, goes to him in Caesarea and helps him with his conversion, the conversion of a pagan. The Apostle himself comments on that very important event: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him" (Acts 10, 34-35). When the Holy Spirit later descends on that group of believers of pagan origin, Peter comments: "Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" (Acts 10, 47). Enlightened from on high, Peter understands and testifies that all are called by Christ's love.

Here we are at a decisive turning-point in the Church's life: a turning-point to which the Book of Acts attaches great importance. The Apostles, and Peter in particular, had not yet clearly perceived that their mission was not limited to the children of Israel. What happened in Cornelius' house convinced them that this was not the case. From that time on, Christianity began to grow outside Israel and an ever deeper awareness of the Church's universality started to take hold: every man and every woman is called, without distinction of race or culture, to receive the Gospel. Christ's love is for everyone and the Christian is a witness to this divine and universal love.

3. Firmly convinced of this truth, Peter went first to Antioch and finally to Rome. The Church of Rome owes its origins to him. Today's meeting of the ecclesial community of Rome, in the heart of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, rekindles in all of us the memory of these apostolic origins, the memory of Peter, the first Pastor of our city. Numerous pilgrims from every part of the world are coming to his tomb in these months to celebrate the Jubilee of the Incarnation of the Lord and to profess the same faith as Peter's in Christ, Son of the Living God.

Once again this shows the particular vocation which divine Providence has reserved for Rome: to be a reference-point for the communion and unity of the whole Church and for the spiritual renewal of all humanity.

4. Dearest faithful of the beloved Church of Rome, I am pleased to extend my affectionate greeting to you on this occasion which brings us together to celebrate our diocesan Jubilee. I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Vicegerent and the Auxiliary Bishops, the priests and deacons, the men and women religious and all of you, lay people actively involved in parishes, movements, groups and the various milieus of the city's work and life. I also greet the mayor and the authorities present.

This day is the symbolic peak of an intense preparatory journey. From the diocesan Synod to the City Mission, our Church of Rome, through her various members, has shown great pastoral vitality and ardent evangelizing zeal in these years. Today we want to thank the Lord for this. Through appropriate pastoral initiatives, the entire city was able to hear the Gospel message again in homes and workplaces. In this way it became clear how much the Church has been woven into the fabric of the people, and how close she is to the poorest and most marginalized.

At the conclusion of the City Mission, on the evening of the Vigil of Pentecost last year, I told you: we must not squander the fruits of this season richly blessed with the Lord's gifts. This is why today's meeting is, yes, the point of arrival, but also an indispensable starting-point. From now on, there must be a general effort to make the "spirit of the City Mission" penetrate more and more deeply into the ordinary, everyday pastoral life of parishes and ecclesial realities. Everyone must consider this an "ongoing commitment" and the entire People of God must be involved, starting with the "missionaries", the priests, religious and lay persons who have experienced first-hand the beauty and joy of evangelization. Precisely because of this necessary renewal of the city's families and milieus, it is most appropriate that in the coming pastoral year we should undertake an attentive discernment of our journey thus far.

5. Let us thank God for all that the diocese is experiencing; let us thank him above all for the events which are being celebrated at various times in this Jubilee Year. We are now on the eve of great, demanding events which require the broadest and most generous collaboration. I am thinking first of the International Eucharistic Congress, the "heart of the Jubilee", which celebrates the living presence among us and for us of the Word made flesh, "bread of life for the world".

Then there is the 15th World Youth Day. This will see a multitude of young people coming to Rome in August from every part of the world; they expect to be welcomed with joy and friendliness by their Roman peers and to receive hospitality from families and from the entire Christian and civil community.

In addition, in the month of October we will celebrate the Jubilee of Families, which will require special care on the part of the diocese and of Christian families. Let us prepare for these events with heartfelt concern.

6. Church of Rome, know how extraordinary your mission also is in relation to the Jubilee! Do not be discouraged by the difficulties you meet on your daily path. You will be sustained by the witness of the Apostles Peter and Paul, who consecrated your beginnings with their blood; may you be encouraged by the examples of the saints and martyrs who have given you the torch of unswerving dedication to the Gospel. Be not afraid! Through your children's efforts may Christ's love reach all the city's inhabitants; may it spread to every milieu, to bring joy and hope everywhere.

And you, Mary, Salus populi Romani, Our Lady of Divine Love, help us. We entrust ourselves to you with confidence. Through your motherly intercession, may the Church of Rome receive a new descent of the Holy Spirit, the principle of her unity and the strength for her mission. Praised be Jesus Christ!"

Pope St John Paul II's words at the Regina Coeli on VI Sunday of Easter
St Peter's Square, Sunday 28th May 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Dearest Brothers and Sisters!
1. At the conclusion of this solemn celebration, we turn to Mary Most Holy and entrust to her the fruits of the Jubilee of the diocese of Rome. We ask her, Salvation of the Roman People, that everyone who lives in Rome may nurture a strong faith and a sincere love for Jesus, the only Saviour of the world. We ask her, Our Lady of Divine Love, that Christian spouses may be faithful to the grace of Marriage and that families may grow in unity and openness to life. To her, Our Lady of Trust, we entrust the young people of Rome, so that they may joyfully discover that life is a vocation and is fulfilled through giving oneself to God and to one's brothers and sisters.

2. I also call upon Mary Most Holy for her help in the forthcoming Jubilee events: the Jubilee of Migrants and Itinerant People, which will be held from Thursday, 1 June, to Saturday, 3 June, and the Jubilee of Journalists on Sunday, 4 June, which will give me the opportunity to meet many people who work in this important field.

Looking a little ahead, I would like to recall the International Eucharistic Congress, which will begin on 18 June and close on 25 June with a great evening celebration in this square. I now invite Romans to take part in large numbers, with the particular hope of seeing the many boys and girls who will make their First Communion.

3. To Our Lady I entrust you, the pilgrims present here, and especially the participants in the Italian Red Cross assembly, whom I encourage in their efforts on behalf of the weakest and most forgotten. I also greet the children who have started the 'March of the Angels' in Deruta, near Perugia. The month of May is drawing to a close and will end on the 31st with the liturgical feast of the Visitation, which recalls Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth. On that day there will be Marian celebrations more or less everywhere, and the now traditional evening procession to the Lourdes Grotto will also be held in the Vatican.

At Lourdes, as at Fatima, the Mother of God addressed the same message to mankind: prayer and penance, a direct echo of the Gospel exhortation: watch and pray! Only in this way will peace triumph in hearts: between individuals and among peoples. Let us all, adults, young people, children and the elderly, answer the heavenly Mother's call, so that the fruits of the Great Jubilee will be multiplied in Rome and in every part of the world."

The Holy Father greeted pilgrims from Poland and Ukraine and then said extemporaneously:

"I thank everyone, the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishops, the priests and all the faithful of the Diocese of Rome. Thank you for coming in such large numbers. Thank you for the gift you have given me. Thank you for your presence."