… The Word of God, as we read in the Letter to the Hebrews, “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
… I am saying this to tell you in advance about the handing on of this Word. I am handing on to you, that is, I am “passing” on to you Mark’s Gospel.
Gospel means “good news” and the “good news” is Jesus, the Son of God, who became man to save the world. The heart of the Gospel is precisely the preaching of Jesus, his actions, his Death and Resurrection; it is Jesus Christ, he himself, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died and rose again for everyone.
… you listened to the reading of a very significant passage from Mark's Gospel: Jesus’ twofold question to his disciples—“Who do men say that I am?”; “And who do you say that I am?”—and Peter’s reply on behalf of them all: “You are the Christ” (cf. Mk 8:27-30). This answer is the synthesis of Mark's Gospel: all that you can read before is a slow, progressive journey towards this proclamation that Jesus is the Messiah. All that follows is a continuous explanation of how Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Messiah—and this is something absolutely new—when in obedience to the Father, on the Cross, he dies for love of us. Seeing his death, the Roman centurion exclaims: “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mk 15:39). Here we see condensed Mark’s missionary concern and his deepest conviction. In the presence of the greatest act of love a person can make, “to lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13), it is possible to be converted, to change one’s life. Even the centurion, who does not belong to the chosen people, recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, the Saviour not only of a people or a nation, but of every man and woman who accepts him and acknowledges him in the moment of his extreme humiliation, in his extreme abasement.
… in the passage from Mark’s Gospel that refers to the Resurrection, the angel says to the women: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen, he is not here.... He is going before you to Galilee” (Mk 16:6-7), as if to tell us not to stand idle before the tomb. If you want to meet him—the angel repeats to all of us—follow the road that Jesus shows you. “He is going before you to Galilee”, and to see him alive and risen you must join him wherever he makes his appointment with you. Two episodes in Mark that make us think.
If this is the content of the Gospel, it demands to be “passed on”, transmitted to others. And here is the mission, the apostolic mission, the mission of the women, the first apostles like the Magdalene, the mission of Peter, of the Twelve, and now the city mission; the mission of the citizens… to “pass on” the Word of God and not to miss your appointment with him. To know Jesus in his Word; to know Jesus crucified and risen through his Word, through the Gospel of Mark.
… there is no authentic Christianity if there is no mission activity, that Jesus is a gift of God that must be brought to everyone.
… mission means learning from Christ to come out of ourselves, from our groups, from our parishes, from our beautiful assemblies, to bring his Gospel to the many friends we know who are waiting with us for the salvation that only Christ knows how and is able to give.
…You have many positive aspirations, many desires; you want to be and you consider yourselves protagonists of life. You want to live in freedom and throw yourselves freely into doing things that you like to do best.
However, this freedom can be a risk. Yes, freedom is a risk: it is a great challenge and a great risk. It can be used well and it can be used badly. If freedom does not obey the truth it can crush you. There are many who are crushed by their freedom. This happens when their freedom is not guided by what is true. It cannot be a blind force left to instinct. Freedom must be guided by the truth.
It is the truth that makes us truly free and this truth comes from Christ, indeed it is Christ. We read in John’s Gospel: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:31-32).
It is therefore good for you to know Jesus Christ, the unifying centre of your existence, and to make him known to your friends. This is why today I am giving you his Gospel and I ask you to be its courageous missionaries. Go into all the world. Jesus made his Gospel known to his Apostles and then he said: go into all the world. …
So, know Jesus Christ! Be the first to know him. Through constant reading and meditation, through prayer which is a constant dialogue between life and the Word of Jesus. To see means already to take action.
So I say to you: know the Gospel. … By knowing the Gospel, you will encounter Christ and do not be afraid of what he may ask of you.
Because Christ is also demanding, thank God! He is demanding! When I was young …this Christ was demanding and he convinced me. Were he not demanding, there would be nothing to listen to, to follow. But if he is demanding, it is because he offers values and it is the values he preaches that are demanding.
… It is not enough to go to church or to your groups. The time has come when you must reach out to those who do not come, to those who are looking for the meaning of life and do not find it because no one proclaims it to them. You must be people who know how to announce this good news. The time has come for the whole Church … to open her doors and reach out to the men and women, the young people who live in this city as though Christ did not exist.
What does Christ ask of you? Jesus asks you not to be ashamed of him and to commit yourselves to proclaiming him to your peers. Make your own this phrase of Paul to the Romans: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith”. This is what Paul wrote to the Romans, to us (Rom 1:16). Do not be afraid, because Jesus is with you!
Do not be afraid of getting lost: the more you give of yourselves, the more you will find yourselves! This is the logic of a sincere self-giving, as the Second Vatican Council teaches.
Many of your friends do not have guides, reference points, to which they can turn in order to learn to know Jesus and overcome those moments of difficulty, disillusionment and uneasiness that can arise. How can we fail to think then of your less fortunate peers who have to reckon with even more serious problems such as unemployment, the resulting difficulty in forming a family, drug addiction or other forms of escape from reality? As you know well, many do not even have the support of a family, because today many families are experiencing a disturbing crisis. You … must become a family for them, reference points for your peers. Become friends to those who have no friends, become family to those who have no family, community to those who have no community. …
The Word of God, as I wrote in the Message to young people for the 12th World Youth Day, “is not an imposition, unhinging the doors of conscience; it is a persuasive voice, a free gift that, if it is to have a saving effect in each one’s concrete existence, calls for an attitude of readiness and responsibility, a pure heart and a free mind” (n. 6; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 28 August 1996, p. 2). Sow the Word. It will be up to the soil to accept it or not. Jesus respects each person’s freedom. When he calls you to follow him, he always starts by saying “If you want to...” (cf. Mt 19: 21).
Engage in dialogue, in order to proclaim the word of God. Dialogue is the method of your mission: a dialogue that first of all demands a meeting on the level of personal relations and that seeks to bring the interlocutors out of their isolation, their mutual mistrust, in order to create mutual esteem and sympathy. A dialogue that demands a meeting on the level of seeking the truth; and again, on the level of action, which tries to establish the conditions for collaboration on concrete objectives of service to one’s neighbour. A dialogue that requires the Christian to be convinced of the truth, to be clearly aware that we are witnesses to Christ, the way, the truth and the life.