At the concluding mass for WYD in Sydney, Benedict XVI tells young people to be witnesses of life and love in the Spirit, to overcome “interior emptiness”, the “fear” and “desperation” present in the world. “Do not be afraid” of the call to priestly and consecrated life. Confirmation conferred on 24 young people from all over the world. Appointment announced for Madrid in 2011. The complete text of the pope’s homily.
Sydney (AsiaNews) – The power of the Holy Spirit can change “indifference”, “spiritual weariness”, “blind conformity to the spirit of this age”. At the concluding Mass for WYD, in front of 350,000 young people gathered together as in a universal Cenacle, Benedict XVI did not make any more references to the problems of ecology and environmentalism, but to the more radical problems of our time: to the “spiritual desert” that in our societies lives together with “material prosperity”, with “an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair”; to men who are like “broken and empty cisterns” (cf. Jer 2:13) . And he issues a proposal to the young people gathered at the racecourse of Randwick: to be “prophets” of “a new age” in which “Godâ€™s gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished â€“ not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed”; in which “love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty”. A new age in which “hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships”. “The world”, says the pope, “needs this renewal!”.
And he adds that not only the world, but also the Church needs the gift of young people’s faith. “She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power!”. And addressing those called to priestly and consecrated life, he says: “Do not be afraid to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!”.
To emphasise the need to take on responsibility in faith and witness, the pope conferred the sacrament of confirmation on 24 young people from all over the world. Being “marked” by the gift of the Spirit means being “sent forth to be Christâ€™s witnesses”, it means “not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilization of love”.
To celebrate the final Mass for the 23rd edition of World Youth Day, Benedict XVI flew by helicopter to Randwick, passing over the racecourse to shouts and applause from the young people. Most of them had spent the night there, in sleeping bags and with hot beverages to overcome the cold, amid singing, prayers, and Eucharistic adoration.
At the end of his homily, the pope greeted the young people in various languages. And at the Angelus, he said he would see them again in Madrid, where the next WYD will be held in 2011. After again asking the young people to “remain faithful to the ‘yes'” that they have given “to the Lordâ€™s offer of friendship”, Benedict XVI added: “The time has come for me to say good-bye â€“ or rather, to say arrivederci! I thank you all for your participation in World Youth Day 2008, here in Sydney, and I look forward to seeing you again in three yearsâ€™ time. World Youth Day 2011 will take place in Madrid, Spain. Until then, let us continue to pray for one another, and let us joyfully bear witness to Christ before the world. May God bless you all”.
We reproduce below the complete text of Benedict XVI’s homily at the Mass.
Dear Friends,â€œYou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon youâ€ (Acts 1:8). We have seen this promise fulfilled!
On the day of Pentecost, as we heard in the first reading, the Risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Spirit upon the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. In the power of that Spirit, Peter and the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In every age, and in every language, the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim the marvels of God and to call all nations and peoples to faith, hope and new life in Christ.
In these days I too have come, as the Successor of Saint Peter, to this magnificent land of Australia. I have come to confirm you, my young brothers and sisters, in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christâ€™s Spirit and the richness of his gifts. I pray that this great assembly, which unites young people â€œfrom every nation under heavenâ€ (cf. Acts 2:5), will be a new Upper Room. May the fire of Godâ€™s love descend to fill your hearts, unite you ever more fully to the Lord and his Church, and send you forth, a new generation of apostles, to bring the world to Christ!
â€œYou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon youâ€. These words of the Risen Lord have a special meaning for those young people who will be confirmed, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, at todayâ€™s Mass. But they are also addressed to each of us â€“ to all those who have received the Spiritâ€™s gift of reconciliation and new life at Baptism, who have welcomed him into their hearts as their helper and guide at Confirmation, and who daily grow in his gifts of grace through the Holy Eucharist. At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lordâ€™s body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in his power, â€œone body, one spirit in Christâ€.
But what is this â€œpowerâ€ of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of Godâ€™s life! It is the power of the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation and who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is the power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God. In todayâ€™s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that a new age has begun, in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all humanity (cf. Lk 4:21). He himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, came among us to bring us that Spirit. As the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of Godâ€™s grace.
Here in Australia, this â€œgreat south land of the Holy Spiritâ€, all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spiritâ€™s presence and power in the beauty of nature. Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is: â€œchargedâ€, as the poet says, â€œwith the grandeur of Godâ€, filled with the glory of his creative love. Here too, in this great assembly of young Christians from all over the world, we have had a vivid experience of the Spiritâ€™s presence and power in the life of the Church. We have seen the Church for what she truly is: the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord.
The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life! Through the grace of the Churchâ€™s sacraments, that power also flows deep within us, like an underground river which nourishes our spirit and draws us ever nearer to the source of our true life, which is Christ. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who died a martyr in Rome at the beginning of the second century, has left us a splendid description of the Spiritâ€™s power dwelling within us. He spoke of the Spirit as a fountain of living water springing up within his heart and whispering: â€œCome, come to the Fatherâ€ (cf. Ad Rom., 6:1-9).
Yet this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift. Godâ€™s love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church. Prayer is pure receptivity to Godâ€™s grace, love in action, communion with the Spirit who dwells within us, leading us, through Jesus, in the Church, to our heavenly Father. In the power of his Spirit, Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive â€œpower from on highâ€, enabling us to be salt and light for our world.
At his Ascension, the Risen Lord told his disciples: â€œYou will be my witnesses â€¦ to the ends of the earthâ€ (Acts 1:8). Here, in Australia, let us thank the Lord for the gift of faith, which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation in the communion of the Church. Here, in Oceania, let us give thanks in a special way for all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands â€“ witnesses like Blessed Mary MacKillop, Saint Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, and so many others! The power of the Spirit, revealed in their lives, is still at work in the good they left behind, in the society which they shaped and which is being handed on to you.
Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the â€œpowerâ€ which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make?
The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of Godâ€™s Kingdom. What a magnificent vision of a humanity redeemed and renewed we see in the new age promised by todayâ€™s Gospel! Saint Luke tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all Godâ€™s promises, the Messiah who fully possesses the Holy Spirit in order to bestow that gift upon all mankind. The outpouring of Christâ€™s Spirit upon humanity is a pledge of hope and deliverance from everything that impoverishes us. It gives the blind new sight; it sets the downtrodden free, and it creates unity in and through diversity (cf. Lk 4:18-19; Is 61:1-2). This power can create a new world: it can â€œrenew the face of the earthâ€ (cf. Ps 104:30)!
Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faithâ€™s rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which Godâ€™s gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished â€“ not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships. Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity. The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desertis spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning â€“ the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanityâ€™s sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.
The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4)! In todayâ€™s second reading, the Apostle Paul reminds us that each and every Christian has received a gift meant for building up the Body of Christ. The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people. She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power! I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say â€œyesâ€ to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!
In a few moments, we will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmands; they will be â€œsealedâ€ with the gift of the Spirit and sent forth to be Christâ€™s witnesses. What does it mean to receive the â€œsealâ€ of the Holy Spirit? It means being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation. For those who have received this gift, nothing can ever be the same! Being â€œbaptizedâ€ in the one Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:13) means being set on fire with the love of God. Being â€œgiven to drinkâ€ of the Spirit means being refreshed by the beauty of the Lordâ€™s plan for us and for the world, and becoming in turn a source of spiritual refreshment for others. Being â€œsealed with the Spiritâ€ means not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilization of love.
As we pray for the confirmands, let us ask that the power of the Holy Spirit will revive the grace of our own Confirmation. May he pour out his gifts in abundance on all present, on this city of Sydney, on this land of Australia and on all its people! May each of us be renewed in the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in Godâ€™s presence!
Through the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may this Twenty-third World Youth Day be experienced as a new Upper Room, from which all of us, burning with the fire and love of the Holy Spirit, go forth to proclaim the Risen Christ and to draw every heart to him! Amen.
Saluto di cuore i giovani di lingua italiana, ed estendo il mio affettuoso pensiero a quanti sono originari dellâ€™Italia e vivono in Australia. Al termine di questa straordinaria esperienza di Chiesa, che ci ha fatto vivere una rinnovata Pentecoste, tornate a casa rinvigoriti dalla forza dello Spirito Santo. Siate testimoni di Cristo risorto, speranza dei giovani e dellâ€™intera famiglia umana!
Chers jeunes francophones, lâ€™Esprit Saint est la source du message de JÃ©sus-Christ et de son action salvifique. Il parle au coeur de chacun le langage quâ€™il comprend. La diversitÃ© des dons de lâ€™Esprit vous fait comprendre la richesse de grÃ¢ces qui est en Dieu. Puissiez-vous vous ouvrir Ã son souffle ! Puissiez-vous permettre son action en vous et autour de vous ! Vous vivrez ainsi en Dieu et vous tÃ©moignerez que le Christ est le Sauveur que le monde espÃ¨re.
Auch euch, liebe junge Freunde deutscher Sprache, gilt mein herzlicher GruÃŸ. Der Heilige Geist ist ein Geist der Gemeinschaft und wirkt VerstÃ¤ndigung und Kommunikation. Sprecht mit anderen Ã¼ber eure Hoffnungen und Ideale, und sprecht von Gott und mit Gott! GlÃ¼cklich ist der Mensch, der in der Liebe Gottes und in der Liebe zum NÃ¤chsten lebt. Gottes Geist fÃ¼hre euch auf Wegen des Friedens!
Queridos jÃ³venes, en Cristo se cumplen todas las promesas de salvaciÃ³n verdadera para la humanidad. Ã‰l tiene para cada uno de vosotros un proyecto de amor en el que se encuentra el sentido y la plenitud de la vida, y espera de todos vosotros que hagÃ¡is fructificar los dones que os ha dado, siendo sus testigos de palabra y con el propio ejemplo. No lo defraudÃ©is.
Amados jovens de lÃngua portuguesa, queridos amigos em Cristo! Sabeis que Jesus nÃ£o vos quer sozinhos; disse Ele: Â«Eu rogarei ao Pai e Ele vos darÃ¡ outro Consolador para estar convosco para sempre, o EspÃrito da verdade (â€¦) que vÃ³s conheceis, porque habita convosco e estÃ¡ em vÃ³sÂ» (Jo 14, 16-17). Ã‰ verdade! Sobre vÃ³s desceu uma lÃngua de fogo do Pentecostes: Ã© a vossa marca de cristÃ£os. Mas nÃ£o foi para a guardardes sÃ³ para vÃ³s, porque Â«a manifestaÃ§Ã£o do EspÃrito Ã© dada a cada um para proveito comumÂ» (1 Cor 12, 7). Levai este Fogo santo a todos os cantos da terra. Nada e ninguÃ©m O poderÃ¡ apagar, porque desceu do cÃ©u. Tal Ã© a vossa forÃ§a, caros jovens amigos! Por isso, vivei do EspÃrito e para o EspÃrito!