It may not always be conscious and clear, but in the human heart there is a deep nostalgia for God. St. Ignatius of Antioch expressed this eloquently: “There is in me a living water that murmurs within me: ‘Come to the Father.’”1 “Lord, show me Your glory,” Moses begged on the mountain (Ex 33:18). “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known” (Jn 1:18).
So, is it enough to know the Son in order to know the Father? Philip does not let himself be so easily convinced. “Show us the Father,” he asks. His insistence brings us a reply beyond all that we could hope for: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). After the incarnation, there exists a human face in which it is possible to see God: “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me” (Jn 14:11). Jesus says this not only to Philip, but to all who will believe. And so, whoever receives the Son of God receives the One who sent Him (cf. Jn 13:20). […]
Jesus revealed the love of the Father to us
Bringing us the direct witness of the life of the Son of God, John’s Gospel points out the road to follow in order to know the Father. Calling upon the “Father” is the secret, the breath, the life of Jesus. […]
“The Father loves you” always and for ever: this is the unheard-of novelty, “the very simple yet profound proclamation owed to humanity by the Church.”2 If the Son also had given us only this word, it would be enough. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 Jn 3:1). […]
“The Father loves you!” Awareness of God’s special love cannot fail to encourage believers “to undertake, by clinging fast to Christ the Redeemer of man, a journey of authentic conversion… This is the proper context for a renewed appreciation and more intense celebration of the sacrament of Penance in its most profound meaning.”3
The origin of every genuine conversion
“Sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving Him and loving one another”4; it is refusal to live the life of God received in Baptism, to let ourselves be loved by the true Love. The human being has in fact the terrible power to be an obstacle to God who wills to give all that is good. Sin, which has its origin in the person’s free will (cf. Mk 7:20), is failure in genuine love; it wounds the nature of the human person and injures human solidarity by attitudes, words and actions steeped in self-love.5
It is in the innermost self that freedom opens up or closes itself to love. This is the constant drama of the human person, who often chooses slavery, subjecting himself or herself to fears, caprices, wrong attitudes, creating idols that dominate and ideologies that degrade his or her humanity.
In John’s Gospel we read: “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (Jn 8:34). Jesus says to everyone: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). At the origin of every genuine conversion there is God looking upon the sinner. It is a look that becomes a search filled with love; a passion, even that of the Cross; a will to pardon that, showing the guilty one the esteem and love in which he or she is still held, in contrast to the disorder in which they are plunged, calls for the decision to change their way of life. This is the case of Levi (cf. Mk 2:13-17), of Zacchaeus (cf. Lk 19:1-10), of the woman taken in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), of the thief (cf. Lk 23:39-43), of the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:1-30): “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.”6
An invitation to stand in front of Christ
The human being who has discovered and experienced the God of mercy and pardon can live only in a state of being continually converted to God.7 “Go and do not sin again” (Jn 8:11): pardon is given freely, but the person is invited to respond with a serious commitment to renewal of life. […]
Before being against a law or a moral norm, sin is against God (cf. Ps 50 :6), against your brothers and sisters and against yourselves. Stand before Christ, only Son of the Father and model for all brothers and sisters. He alone shows us what we must be in relation to the Father, to our neighbour, to society, in order to be at peace with ourselves. […]
Mary: sure way to the merciful Father
Mary sums up in her person the whole mystery of the Church. She is “the highly favoured daughter of the Father,”8 who freely accepted and readily responded to the gift of God. “Daughter” of the Father, She merited to become the Mother of His Son: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:37). She is the Mother of God, because She is perfectly daughter of the Father. In her heart there is no desire other than that of helping Christians in their commitment to live as children of God. As a most tender Mother, She constantly leads them to Jesus, so that, following Him, they may learn to develop their relation with the Father in Heaven. As at the wedding in Cana, She invites them to do whatever He tells them (cf. Jn 2:5), for She knows that this is the way to reach the house of “the Father of mercies” (cf. 2Cor 1:3). […]
To Mary I entrust your journeying, and I ask Her to make your hearts ready to receive the grace of the Father, so that you may become witnesses to His love. ◊
ST. JOHN PAUL II.
Message on the occasion of the
14th World Youth Day, 6/1/1999
1 ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH. Ad Romanos, 7.
2 ST. JOHN PAUL II. Christifideles laici, n.34.
3 ST. JOHN PAUL II. Tertio millennio adveniente, n.50.
4 CCC 387.
5 Cf. CCC 1849-1850.
6 ST. JOHN PAUL II. Redemptor hominis, n.10.
7 Cf. ST. JOHN PAUL II. Dives in misericordia, n.13.
8 ST. JOHN PAUL II. Tertio millennio adveniente, n.54.