Message for 15th World Youth Day

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." John 1:14

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Fifteen years ago, at the close of the Holy Year of Redemption, I entrusted to you a great wooden Cross, asking you to carry it across the world as a sign of the love which the Lord Jesus has for mankind and to proclaim to everyone that only in christ who died and is risen is there salvation and redemption.

Since that day, carried by generous hands and hearts, the Cross has made a long, uninterrupted pilgrimage across the continents, to demonstrate that the Cross walks with young people and young people walk with the Cross.

Around the "Holy Year Cross", World Youth Days were born and developed as meaningful "moments of rest" along your journey as young Christians; a constant, pressing invitation to build life on the rock that is Christ. How can we fail to bless the Lord for the countless fruits born in the hearts of individuals and in the whole Church thanks to the World Youth Days, which in this last part of the century have marked the journey of young believers towards the new millennium?

After spanning the continents, that Cross now returns to Rome, bringing with it the prayers and commitment of millions of young people who have recognized it as a simple and sacred sign of God’s love for humanity.

Because Rome will host World Youth Day, August 6 – 21, 2000, in the heart of the Great Jubilee, Dear young people, I invite you therefore to undertake with joy the pilgrimage to Rome for this important ecclesial appointment, which will rightly be the "Youth Jubilee". Prepare to enter the Holy Door, knowing that to pass through it is to strengthen faith in him in order to live the new life which he has given to us (cf. Incarnationis mysterium, n. 8).

I chose as the theme for your 15th World Day the lapidary phrase with which St John the Apostle describes the profound mystery of God made man: "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" (Jn 1: 14). What distinguishes the Christian faith from all other religions, is the certainty that the man Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the second person of the Trinity who came into the world.

"Such is the joyous conviction of the Church from her beginning, whenever she sings the mystery of our religion: "He was manifested in the flesh’" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 463). God, the invisible one is alive and present in the person of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Theotokos, Mother of God. Jesus of Nazareth is God with us, Emmanuel: he who knows him knows God, he who sees him sees God, he who follows him follows God, he who unites himself with him is united with God (cf. Jn 12: 44-50). In Jesus, born in Bethlehem, God embraces the human condition, making himself accessible, establishing a covenant with mankind.

On the eve of the new millennium, I make again to you my pressing appeal to open wide the doors to Christ who "to those who received him, gave power to become children of God" (Jn 1: 12). To receive Jesus Christ means to accept from the Father the command to live, loving him and our brothers and sisters. It means showing solidarity to everyone, without distinction. It means believing that in the history of humanity, even though it is marked by evil and suffering, the final word belongs to life and to love, because God came to dwell among us, so we may dwell in him.

Condensed from (Editor’s Note: For Youth Pilgrimages to Rome, contact the Youth Minister of your parish for one sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Francisco.)


Condensed from L'Osservatore Romano. . The full text is available at, the Vatican Web Site.   You can receive the English edition of L’Osservatore Romano,where this article also appears by e-mailing a request for a subscription to or by calling (410)547-5380. The subscription rate is $151.00 U.S.


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