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教宗本笃十六世2011年第二十六届世界青年节文告《在耶稣基督内生根修建,坚定于信德。参 哥 2:7》

发表时间:11-02-21 来自: 作者:教宗本笃十六世  点击次数:5448

 

亲爱的朋友们:
我时常回想起2008年在悉尼举办的世界青年节,我们经历了一次信仰的盛大节日,因着圣神活跃的作工,在来自世界各个角落的参与者中建立了密切的共融。就如前几届一样,那次欢聚使许多青年以及整个教会的生命中结出了丰富的果实。现在,我们正翘首以盼2011年8月将在马德里举办的下届世青节。回首1989年,在具历史意义的柏林墙倒塌的前几个月,参与世青节朝圣的青年们停留在了西班牙圣地亚哥。现在,在这欧洲极为需要重新发现它基督徒根基的时刻,我们把这将在马德里举行的集会的主题定为:“在耶稣基督内生根修建,坚定于信德”(参 哥 2:7)我鼓励你们加入这对欧洲教会及普世教会意义重大的盛会。我期望所有的年轻人,不仅是在耶稣基督内分享信仰的,更包括那些犹豫不定,或是不信仰祂的,都能共享这一可能影响他们全部生命的关键历程。对我们来说,这是一次体验复活的主耶稣,以及体验祂对我们每个人的圣爱的美妙机会。
1、于你们内心深处的抱负的根源
在历史的每一个时期,包括我们当今所处的时代,许多年轻人感受到一种深切的渴望,那就是以真理和团结精神为标志的人际关系的愿望。他们中的许多人都渴望建立纯真的友谊、了解真正的爱、建设一个美满稳固的家庭,实现个人价值和真正的安全感。所有这些都是一个宁和幸福未来的保证。在想起我自己年轻的那个时候,我认识到稳定和安全感并不是最占据青少年心灵的问题。没错,有一份工作是重要的,这样我们就可以立足。然而,青春时光也是我们努力使生活更加丰富多彩的一个时期。当我回想起那个时候,我记得最重要的是我们不满足于传统的中产阶级生活。我们希望做一些伟大的事情,尝试一些新的东西。我们希望发现生命本身的庄严和美丽。当然,部分取决于我们所处的时代。在纳粹独裁统治时期和战争期间,可以说,统治权力的结构导致我们“裹足不前”。因此,我们想要爆发,冲出来,体验人类的种种可能性。我认为,在一定程度上,这渴望摆脱平庸的愿望在每一代人身上都有体现。年轻部分意味着渴望日常生活和稳定工作之外的某些东西,成就真正更伟大事情的渴望。这仅仅是一个随着我们年龄增长渐渐会消逝的不切实际的梦想吗?不!男人和女人作为受造物,注定有更伟大更长远永恒的目标。其他的一切将是永远不够的。圣奥古斯丁是正确的,他说:“我们的心是不安,直到他们在祢内找到平安。”寻求更加有意义生活的愿望是天主创造我们,而且我们将铭记祂“印记”的一个标记。天主是生命,这就是为什么每个生物都向往生命的原因。因为人类是按照天主的肖像被创造的,我们以独特的方式来这样做。我们渴求爱、喜乐与平安。因此,我们可以看到——我们人类认为确实能够从生活的画面中抹掉天主是件多么可笑的事情!天主是生命之源。把天主放置在一边就是把我们自己与源泉分离,理所当然也会使我们自己失掉成就和喜乐:“受造物而无造物主,势必等于虚无。”(《梵蒂冈第二次大公会议》,《论教会在现代世界牧职宪章》,36)。在世界上一些地区,特别是在西方,当今的文化倾向于把天主排除在外,并认为信仰是纯粹的私人问题,与社会生活没有任何关联。虽然支撑整个社会的价值观体系来自福音书(例如人的尊严、团结、工作和家庭的价值观),然而我们看到了某种“蒙蔽天主”这种自欺欺人的倾向产生,这是一种失忆——尽管不是对基督教义的完全否定,却是对我们信仰珍宝的一种否定。这种否认可能导致我们最深切的身份的丧失。
基于此种原因,亲爱的朋友们,我鼓励你们巩固加强对天主——我们的主耶稣基督之父的信德。你们是社会和教会的未来!诚如保禄宗徒写给哥罗森基督徒的信所说,有根基是极为重要的,这是坚实的基础!当今时代尤其如此。很多人对于怎样生活没有持久一致的参照点,结果导致他们深深不安。日益增长的相对论心态认为一切都同样有效,认为真理和绝对的参照点并不存在。但这种想法不会通向真正的自由,而是变得不稳定、混乱和盲从当今的潮流。作为年轻人,你们有权从前辈人那里获得强有力的参照点来帮助你们做出选择并在其上建立你们的生活:它就像一株年幼的植物,需要坚实的支撑,直到它可以深深扎根,长成一棵健壮的能够结果实的树木。
2.在耶稣基督内生根修建
为了说明信德在信徒生活中的重要性,我愿与你们一起反省圣保禄所讲的“在耶稣基督内生根修建,坚定于信德”(参哥2:7)中三个词语表达的深意。我们可以看到三幅图像:“生根”令人想起了一棵树以及供给它滋养的树根;“修建”指的是盖房子;“坚定”表示在身体或道德力量的增长。这些图像很有说服力。在对其展开评论之前,我想指出从语法上来看这三个词语在原文中皆使用被动语态。这意味着是基督主动做工让众信友生根修建,变得坚定。
第一个形像是一棵稳固扎根的树,多亏了树根才使他保持直立并供给它营养。如果没有这些根,它将会被风吹走,很快就会死亡。我们的根是什么?当然我们的父母、我们的家庭和我们国家的文化是我们个人身份认知的很重要的因素。但是,圣经揭示了进一步的因素。耶肋米亚先知写道:“凡信赖上主,以上主作依靠的人,是可祝福的:他必像一株栽在水边的树木,生根河畔,不怕炎热的侵袭,枝叶茂盛,不愁旱年,不断结实。”(耶17:7-8)。为先知来讲,“生根”意指把自己的信任交托于上主。正是从祂那里我们吸取我们生活的营养。没有祂,我们不能真正生活。 “天主将永远的生命赐给了我们,而这生命是在自己的子内”(若一5:11)。耶稣本身就告诉我们祂是我们的生命(参若14:6)。因此,基督徒的信仰不仅只是相信某些事情是真实发生的,而最重要的是与耶稣基督的个人关系如何。这是一个与圣子的相遇,祂给我们的存在注入了新的能量。当我们进入与祂的个人关系时,基督揭示了我们的真实身份,并且在与他的友谊中,我们的生命也走向圆满成就。当我们还年轻时,总有这样一个时刻,我们每个人都会思考:我的生活有什么意义呢?我应该使它朝向什么目标和方向?这是一个非常重要的时刻,可能在一段时间内会让我们忧虑。我们开始思考我们要从事的工作,我们要建立的种种关系,我们要培养的友谊……在这里,再一次地我想到了我自己年轻的时候。在某种程度上,我很早就知道天主希望我成为一位神父。后来,在战争结束后,当我在神学院和大学里为实现这一目标而努力时,我必须重新获得这种确定。我必须问自己:这就是我真正要走的那条路吗?这真的是天主的旨意?我会永葆忠诚,做祂的工具吗?像这样的决定需要一定的斗争。而不会出现其它可能。后来确定性出现了:这就是要做的事情!是的,上主召叫我,祂会给我力量。如果倾听他的话语,与他同行,我就能成为真正的自己。重要的不是我的愿望能否实现,而是他的旨意。这样,生活变得真实。
正如树根使树木深深扎根于土壤中,地基使房屋持久稳固。透过信德,我们在耶稣基督内扎根(参 哥2:7),就像是房子建于地基之上一样。圣史中讲述了很多圣人的例子,他们依靠天主的圣言生活。首推亚巴郎——我们的信仰之父,在上主命令他离开自己的故乡前往未知之地的时候,他听从了上主的话。 “亚巴郎相信了天主,因而这事为他便算是正义,他被称为天主的朋友”(雅2:23)。在耶稣基督内生根修建是指积极回应天主的召叫,相信祂并把祂的话付诸实施。耶稣教训祂的门徒说:“你们为什么称呼我:主啊!主啊!而不行我所吩咐的呢?”(路6:46)。祂接着用了盖房子的比喻:“凡到我跟前,听了我的道理,而实行的,我要给你们指出,他相似什么人:他相似一个建筑房屋的人,掘地深挖,把基础立在磐石上,洪水爆发时,大水冲击那座房屋,而不能动摇它,因为它建筑的好”(路6:47-48)。
亲爱的朋友,在磐石上建造你们的房子,就像那些“掘地深挖”的人一样。尝试每天追随基督的话语。把祂当作一个可以分享你们人生之路的真正朋友来听从他。有祂在你们身边,你们会找到面对困难和问题的勇气和希望,甚至战胜失望和挫折。你们总是在不断地面对各种挑战道德观的抉择,但你们自己知道这些最终都是欺骗性的,不能带给你们安宁与喜乐。只有天主的话语可以指引给我们真理之路,也只有我们接受的信德之光能够照耀在我们的旅途。满心感激地接受从你们的家庭所获得的这一灵性礼物吧,力求以负责任的姿态回应天主的召叫,在信德内日益成长。不要相信那些告诉你们不需要别人来建造你们的生活的人!在那些你最亲爱的人身上体现的信德、在对教会的信德上寻求帮助,并为你们已经拥有了它并使它变成了你们自己的而感谢天主吧!
3. 坚定于信德
你们“在耶稣基督内生根修建,坚定于信德”(参哥2:7)。这些话语取自圣保禄写给哥罗森城内的基督徒的书信,回应他们的一个特殊需要。那个团体遭受某些文化潮流影响的威胁,信徒逐渐偏离了福音。而我们自己的文化背景,亲爱的青年们,并不与古代的哥罗森相差多少。确实,有一股强势的世俗主义的思想潮流正试图在人们的生活与社会中将天主边缘化并试图创造一个没有天主的“天堂”。然而经验告诉我们,一个没有天主的世界将成为一个“地狱”:充斥着自私、破碎的家庭、个人与国家之间的仇恨以及爱德、喜乐和希望的缺失。另一方面,无论何处,只要个人和国家接受天主的临在,并在真理中朝拜祂并倾听祂的声音,那么他们就在建设爱的文明,即一个所有人的尊严受到尊重,团结随同益处一同滋长的文明。然而某些基督徒放任自己被世俗主义引诱或陷于那些将他们引离耶稣基督的宗教潮流。又有一些人尽管没有参与这些诱惑却放任他们的信德冷却,因此为他们的道德生命带来了无可避免的损害。
对那些被异于福音的思潮影响的基督徒,保禄宗徒谈及基督的死亡与复活的力量。这个奥迹为我们的生命是基础,为基督徒信仰是核心。所有藐视它或将其视为“愚妄”(参格前1:23)的哲学思想在面对人类内心深处重大疑问时显示出它们的无力。身为伯多禄宗徒的继任人,我亦希望在信德内坚固你们(参路22:32)。我们坚信耶稣基督在十字架上牺牲了自己是为了给予我们祂的爱。在受难时祂背负了我们的苦难与罪过,为我们求得了宽恕并使我们与天主父和好,为我们打开了永生的道路。因此我们已从那最压抑我们生命的事物:罪恶的奴役中,解放出来了。我们得以爱所有的人甚至我们的敌人,我们也得以与我们最穷困的兄弟姊妹及所有在困境中的人分享这份爱。
亲爱的朋友们, 十字架时常使我们恐惧,因为它看似一种对生活的否定。事实正好相反!十字架是天主对人类所说的“是”,是祂圣爱的终极表达与那源源流出永生的泉源。确实,正是从耶稣在十字架上被刺穿的圣心中,这神圣生命源源流出,永远地赐予那些将双目注视于被钉的那一位的人。那么,我只能鼓励你们去拥抱耶稣的十字架,天主圣爱的符号,视它为新生的泉源。离开了从死者中复活的耶稣基督,便没有救恩!唯有祂可以将世人从邪恶中解放并带来那个我们深深期望的、正义、和平与仁爱的国度的壮大。
4. 信从那未见过的耶稣基督
 在福音中我们发现当多默宗徒接受了十字架奥迹和基督的复活时的信仰经历。多默是十二位宗徒中的一位。他跟随了耶稣并亲眼见证祂的治疗与神迹。他聆听了他的话语,在祂的死亡中也感到了痛苦。那个复活节的夜晚,当吾主显现给门徒时,多默并不在场。当他被告知耶稣仍活着并显现了祂自己,多默说:“我除非看见他手上的钉孔,用我的指头,探入钉孔; 用我的手,探入祂的肋膀,我绝不信。" (若20:25 )
  我们也同样希望能看见耶稣,与祂说话并更强力地感受祂的临在。对今日许多人而言,接近耶稣已经变得困难。有如此多得关于耶稣的形像, 虽号称“科学”,实质上偏离了祂人格的独特与伟大。这也是为什么经过多年的学习和反思,我希望借着写一本书来分享我个人与耶稣的相遇。这是一种帮助他人听到并碰触吾主的方式,天主借着祂来到我们之间显扬自己。当耶稣在一周后重新显现给门徒时,祂亲自对多默说:“把你的指头伸到这里来,看看我的手罢!并伸过你的首来,探入我的肋膀,不要作无信的人,但要作个有信德的人。”(若20:27) 我们同样也可以与耶稣有可见的接触,可以说是,将我们的手放置在祂受难的记号、祂圣爱的记号之上。特别是在圣事之中祂走进我们并将祂自己给予我们。亲爱的青年人,你们要学会在圣体圣事中“看见”耶稣并与祂“相遇”,祂临在于其中并与我们接近,甚至成为我们旅途的食粮。在忏悔圣事中,主启示祂的仁慈,并永远给予我们祂的宽恕。并在穷困者、病患者与我们在困境中需要帮助的兄弟姊妹中认出并服侍耶稣。
  与耶稣基督走进个人的对话,并在信德中使其茁壮。借着阅读福音与天主教教理来更深入地认识祂。在祈祷中与祂对话,并将你的信任交给祂。祂永远不会背叛那份信任。 “信仰首先是人对天主的个人依附,同时,与此分不开的,就是自由地认同天主所启示的全部真理。”(天主教教理150.) 借此你将获得一个成熟而坚固的信德,而不仅仅是建立在宗教感情或你幼年时模煳记下的教理问答。你将认识天主,并实在地与祂一起生活,就像多默宗徒以此话语表示他对耶稣的坚定信德:我主!我天主! ”(若 20:28)。
5. 保持对教会的信德,以成为见证
耶稣对多默说:“因为你看见了我,才相信吗?那些没有看见而相信的,才是有福的!”(若20:29)。那时候,祂一直在考虑教会将走的道路,即基于可见的见证:宗徒。这样就能明白对基督并与祂密切交流的个人信德何以与对教会的信德紧密相连。我们不是作为孤立的个体而相信,恰恰相反,借着圣洗圣事,我们成为了这伟大家庭的一员;是教会所宣扬的信理加强了我们个人的信德。我们每周在主日弥撒中宣念的信经保护着我们远离相信一个不是基督所启示的神的险境。 “这样,信众就像一条锁链,每个信徒就像其中一环。若无别人信德的支持,我不能去信;同样,借着我的信德,我也支持别人的信仰。”(天主教教理166 )让我们恒久地感谢主赐予了我们教会,以及教会帮助我们可靠地增进赋予我们真生命的信德。 (参 若 20:31)
在教会的历史中,圣人与殉道者一直从基督荣耀的十字架获取力量,以忠贞于天主,甚至献出自己的生命。在信德中,他们找到了克服自己软弱的力量,并战胜一切困境。事实上,正如若望宗徒所说,“谁是得胜世界的呢?不是那信耶稣为天主子的人吗?”(若一5:5)信德的胜利诞生是爱的诞生。曾经,且现仍有许多基督徒是在爱德中表现出信德的力量,他们是活生生的见证。他们是正义的协调器和催化剂,是为一个更人道、承行天主的旨意的世界工作的工人。借着自己的本领和专业技术,他们献身于社会的各个行业。来自信德的爱德引导他们通过自己的言行作有形的见证。基督不应是为我们独享的财富;祂是我们所拥有的最宝贵、且注定要与他人分享的财富。在这全球化的时代,应于世界的各个角落成为基督徒的望德的见证。多少人正在期待得到这希望!当耶稣站在已经去世四天的拉匝禄的坟前,祂要将死人复活,耶稣对拉匝禄的姐姐玛尔大说:“如果你信,就会看到天主的光荣”(参若11:40)。同样,如果你信,如果你可以活出信德并每天为此作见证,你将成为帮助其他青年的途径,得以如你一样找到生命的意义和喜乐——与基督相遇。
6. 在前往马德里世青节的路上
亲爱的朋友们,我再次邀请你们参与马德里世青节。我怀着极大的喜悦期待你们中的每一位。耶稣基督希望通过教会使你们坚定于信德。相信并跟随耶稣基督的决定并不那么容易。我们的个人挫折和许多要我们走向更易走的道路的意见妨碍着它。然而,不要沮丧,而是寻求基督徒团体的帮助、寻求教会的帮助!在这一整年中,主教、司铎以及在你们的教区、堂区、协会、运动中的年轻领袖细心地会在马德里的集会作准备。我们集会的质量主要取决于我们的灵性预备、我们的祈祷、我们共同聆听上主的圣言以及我们的互相支持。
亲爱的年轻人,教会依靠你们!她需要你们活生生的信德、有创造力的爱德和你们望德的力量。你们的出席更新教会并为教会注入新的活力和能量。这就是为什么世青节不仅是为你们的恩宠,更是为所有天主子民的恩宠。在西班牙的教会正在积极准备欢迎你们并与你们分享着信德的喜悦经历。我感谢当地教区、堂区、圣地、宗教社团、教会机构和运动,及所有正在为准备这一盛会辛勤工作的人们。主不会疏于给予他们祂的助佑。愿童贞玛利亚在这些准备工作中始终陪伴你们。得到天使报喜时,她以信德接受天主的圣言。是在信德中,她应从了天主所有在她身上完成的。通过声明她的「服从」、她的「是的」”,她得到了巨大的爱德的赋予,使她将自己全部献给天主。愿她为你们每一位转求,好使你们在即将到来的世青节中于信德与爱德里成长。我确保会在祈祷中如父亲般记得你们,并且以我对你们的由衷挚爱降福你们每一个人。   
 
2010年8月6日 耶稣显圣容瞻礼
 
梵蒂冈
教宗本笃十六世
 
 
Dear Friends,
 
I often think back on the World Youth Day held in Sydney in 2008. There we had an experience of a great festival of faith in which the Spirit of God was actively at work, building deep communion among the participants who had come from all over the world. That gathering, like those on previous occasions, bore rich fruit in the lives of many young people and in the life of the whole Church. Now we are looking forward to the next World Youth Day, to be held in Madrid in August 2011. Back in 1989, several months before the historic fall of the Berlin Wall, this pilgrimage of young people halted in Spain, in Santiago de Compostela. Now, at a time when Europe greatly needs to rediscover its Christian roots, our meeting will take place in Madrid with the theme: “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7). I encourage you to take part in this event, which is so important for the Church in Europe and for the universal Church. I would like all young people – those who share our faith in Jesus Christ, but also those who are wavering or uncertain, or who do not believe in him – to share this experience, which can prove decisive for their lives. It is an experience of the Lord Jesus, risen and alive, and of his love for each of us.
1. At the source of your deepest aspirations
In every period of history, including our own, many young people experience a deep desire for personal relationships marked by truth and solidarity. Many of them yearn to build authentic friendships, to know true love, to start a family that will remain united, to achieve personal fulfilment and real security, all of which are the guarantee of a serene and happy future. In thinking of my own youth, I realize that stability and security are not the questions that most occupy the minds of young people. True enough, it is important to have a job and thus to have firm ground beneath our feet, yet the years of our youth are also a time when we are seeking to get the most out of life. When I think back on that time, I remember above all that we were not willing to settle for a conventional middle-class life. We wanted something great, something new. We wanted to discover life itself, in all its grandeur and beauty. Naturally, part of that was due to the times we lived in. During the Nazi dictatorship and the war, we were, so to speak, “hemmed in” by the dominant power structure. So we wanted to break out into the open, to experience the whole range of human possibilities. I think that, to some extent, this urge to break out of the ordinary is present in every generation. Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater. Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. Nothing else will ever be enough. Saint Augustine was right when he said “our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you”. The desire for a more meaningful life is a sign that God created us and that we bear his “imprint”. God is life, and that is why every creature reaches out towards life. Because human beings are made in the image of God, we do this in a unique and special way. We reach out for love, joy and peace. So we can see how absurd it is to think that we can truly live by removing God from the picture! God is the source of life. To set God aside is to separate ourselves from that source and, inevitably, to deprive ourselves of fulfilment and joy: “without the Creator, the creature fades into nothingness” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 36). In some parts of the world, particularly in the West, today’s culture tends to exclude God, and to consider faith a purely private issue with no relevance for the life of society. Even though the set of values underpinning society comes from the Gospel – values like the sense of the dignity of the person, of solidarity, of work and of the family –, we see a certain “eclipse of God” taking place, a kind of amnesia which, albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity, is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity.
For this reason, dear friends, I encourage you to strengthen your faith in God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are the future of society and of the Church! As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Colossae, it is vital to have roots, a solid foundation! This is particularly true today. Many people have no stable points of reference on which to build their lives, and so they end up deeply insecure. There is a growing mentality of relativism, which holds that everything is equally valid, that truth and absolute points of reference do not exist. But this way of thinking does not lead to true freedom, but rather to instability, confusion and blind conformity to the fads of the moment. As young people, you are entitled to receive from previous generations solid points of reference to help you to make choices and on which to build your lives: like a young plant which needs solid support until it can sink deep roots and become a sturdy tree capable of bearing fruit.
2. Planted and built up in Jesus Christ
In order to highlight the importance of faith in the lives of believers, I would like to reflect with you on each of the three terms used by Saint Paul in the expression: “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7). We can distinguish three images: “planted” calls to mind a tree and the roots that feed it; “built up” refers to the construction of a house; “firm” indicates growth in physical or moral strength. These images are very eloquent. Before commenting on them, I would like to point out that grammatically all three terms in the original text are in the passive voice. This means that it is Christ himself who takes the initiative to plant, build up and confirm the faithful.
The first image is that of a tree which is firmly planted thanks to its roots, which keep it upright and give it nourishment. Without those roots, it would be blown away by the wind and would die. What are our roots? Naturally our parents, our families and the culture of our country are very important elements of our personal identity. But the Bible reveals a further element. The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jer 17:7-8). For the prophet, to send out roots means to put one’s trust in God. From him we draw our life. Without him, we cannot truly live. “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 Jn 5:11). Jesus himself tells us that he is our life (cf. Jn 14:6). Consequently, Christian faith is not only a matter of believing that certain things are true, but above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is an encounter with the Son of God that gives new energy to the whole of our existence. When we enter into a personal relationship with him, Christ reveals our true identity and, in friendship with him, our life grows towards complete fulfilment. There is a moment, when we are young, when each of us wonders: what meaning does my life have? What purpose and direction should I give to it? This is a very important moment, and it can worry us, perhaps for some time. We start wondering about the kind of work we should take up, the kind of relationships we should establish, the friendships we should cultivate... Here, once more, I think of my own youth. I was somehow aware quite early on that the Lord wanted me to be a priest. Then later, after the war, when I was in the seminary and at university on the way towards that goal, I had to recapture that certainty. I had to ask myself: is this really the path I was meant to take? Is this really God’s will for me? Will I be able to remain faithful to him and completely at his service? A decision like this demands a certain struggle. It cannot be otherwise. But then came the certainty: this is the right thing! Yes, the Lord wants me, and he will give me strength. If I listen to him and walk with him, I become truly myself. What counts is not the fulfilment of my desires, but of his will. In this way life becomes authentic.
Just as the roots of a tree keep it firmly planted in the soil, so the foundations of a house give it long-lasting stability. Through faith, we have been built up in Jesus Christ (cfr Col 2:7), even as a house is built on its foundations. Sacred history provides many examples of saints who built their lives on the word of God. The first is Abraham, our father in faith, who obeyed God when he was asked to leave his ancestral home and to set out for an unknown land. “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God” (Jas 2:23). Being built up in Jesus Christ means responding positively to God’s call, trusting in him and putting his word into practice. Jesus himself reprimanded his disciples: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I tell you?” (Lk 6:46). He went on to use the image of building a house: “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built” (Lk 6:47-48).
Dear friends, build your own house on rock, just like the person who “dug deeply”. Try each day to follow Christ’s word. Listen to him as a true friend with whom you can share your path in life. With him at your side, you will find courage and hope to face difficulties and problems, and even to overcome disappointments and set-backs. You are constantly being offered easier choices, but you yourselves know that these are ultimately deceptive and cannot bring you serenity and joy. Only the word of God can show us the authentic way, and only the faith we have received is the light which shines on our path. Gratefully accept this spiritual gift which you have received from your families; strive to respond responsibly to God’s call, and to grow in your faith. Do not believe those who tell you that you don’t need others to build up your life! Find support in the faith of those who are dear to you, in the faith of the Church, and thank the Lord that you have received it and have made it your own!
3. Firm in the faith
You are “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7). The Letter from which these words are taken was written by Saint Paul in order to respond to a specific need of the Christians in the city of Colossae. That community was threatened by the influence of certain cultural trends that were turning the faithful away from the Gospel. Our own cultural context, dear young people, is not unlike that of the ancient Colossians. Indeed, there is a strong current of secularist thought that aims to make God marginal in the lives of people and society by proposing and attempting to create a “paradise” without him. Yet experience tells us that a world without God becomes a “hell”: filled with selfishness, broken families, hatred between individuals and nations, and a great deficit of love, joy and hope. On the other hand, wherever individuals and nations accept God’s presence, worship him in truth and listen to his voice, then the civilization of love is being built, a civilization in which the dignity of all is respected, and communion increases, with all its benefits. Yet some Christians allow themselves to be seduced by secularism or attracted by religious currents that draw them away from faith in Jesus Christ. There are others who, while not yielding to these enticements, have simply allowed their faith to grow cold, with inevitable negative effects on their moral lives.
To those Christians influenced by ideas alien to the Gospel the Apostle Paul spoke of the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. This mystery is the foundation of our lives and the centre of Christian faith. All philosophies that disregard it and consider it “foolishness” (1 Cor 1:23) reveal their limitations with respect to the great questions deep in the hearts of human beings. As the Successor of the Apostle Peter, I too want to confirm you in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32). We firmly believe that Jesus Christ offered himself on the Cross in order to give us his love. In his passion, he bore our sufferings, took upon himself our sins, obtained forgiveness for us and reconciled us with God the Father, opening for us the way to eternal life. Thus we were freed from the thing that most encumbers our lives: the slavery of sin. We can love everyone, even our enemies, and we can share this love with the poorest of our brothers and sisters and all those in difficulty.
Dear friends, the Cross often frightens us because it seems to be a denial of life. In fact, the opposite is true! It is God’s “yes” to mankind, the supreme expression of his love and the source from which eternal life flows. Indeed, it is from Jesus’ heart, pierced on the Cross, that this divine life streamed forth, ever accessible to those who raise their eyes towards the Crucified One. I can only urge you, then, to embrace the Cross of Jesus, the sign of God’s love, as the source of new life. Apart from Jesus Christ risen from the dead, there can be no salvation! He alone can free the world from evil and bring about the growth of the Kingdom of justice, peace and love to which we all aspire.
4. Believing in Jesus Christ without having seen him
In the Gospel we find a description of the Apostle Thomas’s experience of faith when he accepted the mystery of the Cross and resurrection of Christ. Thomas was one of the twelve Apostles. He followed Jesus and was an eyewitness of his healings and miracles. He listened to his words, and he experienced dismay at Jesus’ death. That Easter evening when the Lord appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not present. When he was told that Jesus was alive and had shown himself, Thomas stated: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25).
We too want to be able to see Jesus, to speak with him and to feel his presence even more powerfully. For many people today, it has become difficult to approach Jesus. There are so many images of Jesus in circulation which, while claiming to be scientific, detract from his greatness and the uniqueness of his person. That is why, after many years of study and reflection, I thought of sharing something of my own personal encounter with Jesus by writing a book. It was a way to help others see, hear and touch the Lord in whom God came to us in order to make himself known. Jesus himself, when he appeared again to his disciples a week later, said to Thomas: “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe” (Jn 20:27). We too can have tangible contact with Jesus and put our hand, so to speak, upon the signs of his Passion, the signs of his love. It is in the sacraments that he draws particularly near to us and gives himself to us. Dear young people, learn to “see” and to “meet” Jesus in the Eucharist, where he is present and close to us, and even becomes food for our journey. In the sacrament of Penance the Lord reveals his mercy and always grants us his forgiveness. Recognize and serve Jesus in the poor, the sick, and in our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and in need of help.
Enter into a personal dialogue with Jesus Christ and cultivate it in faith. Get to know him better by reading the Gospels and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Converse with him in prayer, and place your trust in him. He will never betray that trust! “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 150). Thus you will acquire a mature and solid faith, one which will not be based simply on religious sentiment or on a vague memory of the catechism you studied as a child. You will come to know God and to live authentically in union with him, like the Apostle Thomas who showed his firm faith in Jesus in the words: “My Lord and my God!”.
5. Sustained by the faith of the Church, in order to be witnesses
Jesus said to Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29). He was thinking of the path the Church was to follow, based on the faith of eyewitnesses: the Apostles. Thus we come to see that our personal faith in Christ, which comes into being through dialogue with him, is bound to the faith of the Church. We do not believe as isolated individuals, but rather, through Baptism, we are members of this great family; it is the faith professed by the Church which reinforces our personal faith. The Creed that we proclaim at Sunday Mass protects us from the danger of believing in a God other than the one revealed by Christ: “Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 166). Let us always thank the Lord for the gift of the Church, for the Church helps us to advance securely in the faith that gives us true life (cf. Jn 20:31).
In the history of the Church, the saints and the martyrs have always drawn from the glorious Cross of Christ the strength to be faithful to God even to the point of offering their own lives. In faith they found the strength to overcome their weaknesses and to prevail over every adversity. Indeed, as the Apostle John says, “Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 Jn 5:5). The victory born of faith is that of love. There have been, and still are, many Christians who are living witnesses of the power of faith that is expressed in charity. They have been peacemakers, promoters of justice and workers for a more humane world, a world in accordance with God’s plan. With competence and professionalism, they have been committed in different sectors of the life of society, contributing effectively to the welfare of all. The charity that comes from faith led them to offer concrete witness by their actions and words. Christ is not a treasure meant for us alone; he is the most precious treasure we have, one that is meant to be shared with others. In our age of globalization, be witnesses of Christian hope all over the world. How many people long to receive this hope! Standing before the tomb of his friend Lazarus, who had died four days earlier, as he was about to call the dead man back to life, Jesus said to Lazarus’ sister Martha: “If you believe, you will see the glory of God” (cf. Jn 11:40). In the same way, if you believe, and if you are able to live out your faith and bear witness to it every day, you will become a means of helping other young people like yourselves to find the meaning and joy of life, which is born of an encounter with Christ!
6. On the way to World Youth Day in Madrid
Dear friends, once again I invite you to attend World Youth Day in Madrid. I await each of you with great joy. Jesus Christ wishes to make you firm in faith through the Church. The decision to believe in Jesus Christ and to follow him is not an easy one. It is hindered by our personal failures and by the many voices that point us towards easier paths. Do not be discouraged. Rather, look for the support of the Christian community, the support of the Church! Throughout this year, carefully prepare for the meeting in Madrid with the bishops, priests and youth leaders in your dioceses, parish communities, associations and movements. The quality of our meeting will depend above all on our spiritual preparation, our prayer, our common hearing of the word of God and our mutual support.
Dear young people, the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church. That is why World Youth Days are a grace, not only for you, but for the entire People of God. The Church in Spain is actively preparing to welcome you and to share this joyful experience of faith with you. I thank the dioceses, parishes, shrines, religious communities, ecclesial associations and movements, and all who are hard at work in preparing for this event. The Lord will not fail to grant them his blessings. May the Virgin Mary accompany you along this path of preparation. At the message of the angel, she received God’s word with faith. It was in faith that she consented to what God was accomplishing in her. By proclaiming her “fiat”, her “yes”, she received the gift of immense charity which led her to give herself entirely to God. May she intercede for each one of you so that, in the coming World Youth Day you may grow in faith and love. I assure you of a paternal remembrance in my prayers and I give you my heartfelt blessing.
 
From the Vatican, 6 August 2010, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.
 
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
 
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