Pope's Homily at Mass Celebrated in Bern

On a Spirituality of Communion

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BERN, Switzerland, JUNE 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily John Paul II delivered Sunday during the Mass at which he presided in the Allmend field.



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"Blessed be God the Father / and the only begotten Son of God / and the Holy Spirit: / because great is his love for us" (Entrance antiphon).

1. In this first Sunday after Pentecost the Church invites us to celebrate the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. We do so, dear brothers and sisters, in the wonderful setting of the snow-covered summits, the green valleys rich in flowers and fruits, of numerous lakes and torrents that make your land beautiful. We are guided in this reflection by the first Reading, which has led us to contemplate Divine Wisdom when "he established the heavens ... made firm the skies above ... established the fountains of the deep ... assigned the sea to its limit ... marked out the foundation of the earth" (Proverbs 8:27-29).

Our gaze, however, is not focused only on creation, "work of the hands of God" (Responsorial Psalm); it pays attention especially to the human presences around us. I greet you with affection, dear brothers and sisters of this wonderful region situated in the heart of Europe. I would like to shake each one's hand to greet you personally and tell you: "The Lord is with you and he loves you!"

I greet fraternally the bishops of Switzerland, with their president, Monsignor Amédée Grab, bishop of Chur, and Monsignor Kurt Koch, bishop of Basel, whom I thank for all he has said to me on behalf of all of you. I respectfully greet the Lord President of the Helvetian Confederation and the other authorities, who honor us with their presence.

I wish to express a special greeting full of affection to the Catholic youth of Switzerland, with whom I met yesterday evening in the Bern Arena, where again we heard together the demanding and stirring invitation of Jesus: "Arise!" Dear young friends, know that the Pope loves you, he supports you with his daily prayer, he counts on your collaboration in the cause of the Gospel and encourages you with confidence in the journey of Christian life.

2. In the Preface we will say, "We believe all that you have revealed of your glory." Our Eucharistic gathering is a testimony and proclamation of the glory of the Most High and of his active presence in history. Supported by the Spirit that the Father has sent us through the Son, "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" (Romans 5:3-4).

Beloved, I pray to the Lord that I shall be able to be in your midst a witness of hope, of that hope that does "not disappoint," because it is founded on the love of God that "has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5). It is of this that the world today has particular need: of a supplement of hope!

3. "You are one only God, one only Lord" (Preface). The three Persons, equal and distinct, are only one God. Their real distinction does not divide the unity of the divine nature.

Christ has proposed to us, his disciples, this profound communion as a model: "even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21). The celebration of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity constitutes for Christians every year a strong call to commitment to the awareness of one's own responsibility in the Church, Bride of Christ. How can we not feel impelled, before these words of Christ, to the ecumenical drive? I reaffirm, also in this circumstance, the will to go forward on the difficult path, but rich in joy, of full communion with all believers.

It is true, however, that a strong contribution to the ecumenical cause comes from the commitment of Catholics to live unity in their own interior. In the apostolic letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte" I underlined the need to "make the Church the home and school of communion" (No. 43), keeping the "heart's contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us" (ibid.). In this way is nourished that "spirituality of communion" which, starting from places where men and Christians are gathered, reaches the parishes, associations and movements. A local Church where the spirituality of communion flourishes will be able to purify itself constantly of the "toxins" of egoism, which generate jealousy, diffidence, cravings for self-assertion, harmful oppositions.

4. The evocation of these risks inspires in us a spontaneous prayer to the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised to send us: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13).

What is truth? This is what Jesus said one day: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). The right formulation of the question is not, therefore, "What is the truth?' but "Who is the truth?"

This is the question that man of the third millennium also asks himself. Dear brothers and sisters, we cannot keep silent about the answer, because we know it! The truth is Jesus Christ, who came into the world to reveal himself and to give us the love of the Father. We are called to witness to this truth with the Word but above all with our life!

5. Beloved, the Church is mission. She needs also today "prophets" able to reawaken in communities faith in the revealing Word of God rich in mercy (see Ephesians 2:4). The time has come to prepare young generations of apostles who are not afraid to proclaim the Gospel. For every baptized person it is necessary to pass from a habitual to a mature faith, which is expressed in clear, convinced and courageous personal choices.

Only such a faith, celebrated and shared in the liturgy and in fraternal charity, can nourish and fortify the community of disciples of the Lord and erect it in a missionary Church, free of false fears because [it is] certain of the love of the Father.

6. "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5). It is not a merit of ours; it is a free gift. Despite the weight of our sins, God has loved us and has redeemed us in the blood of Christ. His grace has healed us in our innermost being.

Therefore, we can exclaim with the Psalmist: "How great, Lord, is your love over all the earth!" How great it is in me, in others, in every human being!

This is the true source of man's greatness, this is the root of his indestructible dignity. The image of God is reflected in every human being. Here is the most profound "truth" of man, which can never be unknown or violated.

Every outrage borne by man is revealed, in short, an outrage to his Creator, who loves him with the love of a Father.

Switzerland has a great tradition in regard to respect for man. It is a tradition that is under the sign of the cross: the Red Cross!

Christians of this noble country, always be up to the measure of this your glorious past! Know how to recognize and honor in every human being the image of God! In man created by God is reflected the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.

Let us say, then: "Glory be to the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Spirit: to the God who is, who was, and who is coming" (Gospel Song). Amen!

[Translation by ZENIT]