Why are we Indians satisfied with mediocrity


 "You are the salt of the earth...
You are the light of the world" (Mt 5, 13-14)


Dear young people!

1. I remember vividly the wonderful moments that we experienced together in Rome during the Jubilee of 2000, when you made pilgrimages to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. In long, silent rows you passed through the Holy Door and prepared yourselves to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation; at the prayer vigil and in the morning mass in Tor Vergata you then had a powerful spiritual and ecclesiastical experience; Strengthened in your faith you have returned home with the mission that I have entrusted to you: in this time of the dawning new millennium, to become courageous witnesses of the Gospel.

The organization of World Youth Day has already become an important moment in your life as well as the life of the Church. I therefore invite you to begin preparing for the 17th international execution of this great event, which will be held in Toronto, Canada next summer. It will be another opportunity to meet Christ, to testify of his presence in today's society and to become builders of the "civilization of love and truth".

2. "You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world" (Mt 5: 13-14): This is the topic I have chosen for the next World Youth Day. The two images of salt and light used by Jesus complement each other and are profound. In ancient times, salt and light were considered essential elements of human life.

"You are the salt of the earth...". As is well known, one of the main properties of salt is to season food, to give it a good taste. This image reminds us that through baptism our whole being has been profoundly changed because it has been "spiced" with the new life that comes from Christ (cf. Rom 6.4). The salt, thanks to which Christian identity does not degenerate even in a strongly secularized environment, is the grace of baptism. This has awakened us to new life by letting us live in Christ and enabling us to answer his call and "offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice" (Rom 12.1). St. Paul writes to the Christians in Rome and exhorts them to emphasize with all clarity their way of thinking and living, which differs markedly from that of their contemporaries: "Do not conform to this world, but change yourselves and renew your thinking with it you can examine and recognize what God's will is: what pleases him, what is good and perfect "(Rom 12,2).

For a long time salt was also the most common means of preserving food. As the salt of the earth, you are called to preserve the faith you have received and to pass it on unscathed to others. Your generation is particularly emphatically confronted with the challenge of keeping the property of faith intact (cf. 2 thes 2,15; 1 Tim 6,20; 2 Tim 1,14).

Discover your Christian roots, learn the history of the Church, deepen the knowledge of the spiritual inheritance that has been passed on to you, follow the witnesses and teachers who went before you! Only if you remain faithful to God's commandments, the covenant that Christ sealed with his blood shed on the cross, will you be able to be the apostles and witnesses of the new millennium.

It is peculiar to human beings, and especially to youth, to search for the absolute, for the meaning and the fullness of existence. Dear young people, may you not satisfy anything that falls short of the highest ideals! Do not be discouraged by those who, disappointed in life, have become deaf to the deepest and genuine longings of their hearts! You would do well not to put up with mindless pleasures, passing fads, and one-sided plans. If you keep your great longing for the Lord, you will be able to avoid the mediocrity and conformism that are so common in our society.

3. "You are the light of the world...". In all who heard Jesus at the beginning, as well as in us, the symbol of light evokes the longing for truth and the urge to reach the fullness of knowledge that is imprinted on every person in his deepest interior.

When the light diminishes or disappears completely, one can no longer recognize the surrounding reality. In the depths of the night one can feel scared and insecure and then wait impatiently for the light of the coming morning. Dear young people, you must be the watchmen of the morning (cf. Isa 21: 11-12) announcing the rising of the sun, the risen Christ!

The light of which Jesus speaks to us in the Gospel is the light of faith, an innocent gift from God, which illuminates our hearts and enlightens our minds: "For God, who said: Out of darkness, light shall shine! lit up in our hearts so that we may be enlightened to the knowledge of the divine splendor on the face of Christ "(2 Cor 4.6). This is the reason why the words of Jesus take on an extraordinary meaning when he explains his identity and his mission: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Joh 8,12).

The personal encounter with Christ illuminates life with a new light, lets us walk on the good path and obliges us to be his witnesses. The new way of looking at the world and people that he brought upon us allows us to penetrate more deeply into the mystery of faith; this is not just a sum of theoretical statements that must be accepted and confirmed with the understanding, but rather an experience that one appropriates, a truth that must be lived, the salt and the light of all reality (cf. encyclical Veritatis splendor, No. 88).

In connection with the current secularization, where many of our contemporaries think and live as if God did not exist or are attracted by irrational forms of religiosity, you, dear young people, have to assert again that faith is a personal decision, the whole Existence. The gospel should be the great criterion that guides the decisions and direction of your life! In this way you will become missionaries with deeds and words and wherever you work and live you will be signs of God's love, credible witnesses of the loving presence of Christ. Don't forget: "You don't light a light and put a vessel over it" (Mt 5,15)!

As salt spices food and light illuminates darkness, so holiness gives life its full meaning by making it a reflection of the glory of God. Church history records how many saints among young people! In their love for God they let their heroic virtues shine in the face of the world and have thus become models for life, which the Church set as an example for others to emulate. Suffice it to mention a few of the many names: Agnes of Rome, Andreas Di Ph├║ Yen, Pedro Calungsod, Giuseppina Bakhita, Teresa of Lisieux, Pier Giorgio Frassati, Marcel Callo, Francisco Castell├│ Aleu or Kateri Tekakwitha, the young Iroquois, known as "the lily of the mohawks". I pray to God, who is three times holy, that through the intercession of this infinite host of witnesses he will make you, dear young people, saints, saints of the third millennium!

4. Dear ones, it is time to focus on the XVII. Prepare for World Youth Day. I have a special invitation for you: read and internalize the apostolic letter Novo millennio ineunte, which I wrote at the beginning of the year to accompany the baptized in this new phase of the life of the Church and of people: "A new century, a new millennium are opening up in the light of Christ. But not all see this light. We have the wonderful one and the demanding task of being his "reflection" "(No. 54).

Yes, the time to broadcast has come! In your dioceses and in your parishes, in your movements, associations and communities, Christ calls you, the Church welcomes you as a house and school of communion and prayer. Study the Word of God carefully and allow it to enlighten your mind and heart. Draw strength from the sacramental grace of reconciliation and the Eucharist. Visit the Lord "heart to heart" in Eucharistic adoration. Day after day you will receive a new boost that will allow you to comfort those who suffer and bring peace to the world. There are so many people who are hurt by life, excluded from economic development, homeless, without families and without work; many chase after false illusions or have given up all hope. When you see the light shining on the face of the risen Christ, you in turn learn as "sons of light and sons of day" (1 Thess 5: 5) by making it known to all that "the light brings forth all goodness, righteousness and truth" (Eph 5,9).

5. Dear young friends, for everyone who can come, the next meeting is in Toronto! In the heart of a city with many cultures and denominations, we will express the uniqueness of Christ the Savior and the universality of the mystery of salvation, of which the Church is sacrament. We will pray for full communion among Christians in truth and love in response to the urgent invitation of the Lord who longs "that all may be one" (Joh 17,11).

Come and let the joyous message of Christ resound in the great arteries of Toronto, who loves all people and completes every sign of goodness, beauty and truth present in the human city. Come and speak to the world about your joy at having met Jesus Christ, about your desire to get to know him better and better, about your task to preach his Gospel of salvation to the limits of the earth!

Your Canadian contemporaries, along with their bishops and civil authorities, are already preparing to receive you with enthusiasm and great hospitality. I would like to thank them very much for that. May this first World Youth Day at the beginning of the third millennium be able to convey a message of faith, hope and love to everyone!

My blessing accompanies you as I entrust each of you with your vocation and your mission to Mary, Mother of the Church.

Castel Gandolfo, on July 25, 2001