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Come back to the post during the day as I post the texts of various talks today. If you find a link before I get back, please post!

The Pope’s address at the Cologne Airport

The Pope’s address on the boat:

Dear friends, when questions like these appear on the horizon of life, we must be able to make the necessary choices.  It is like finding ourselves at a crossroads: which direction do we take?  The one prompted by the passions or the one indicated by the star which shines in your conscience?  The Magi heard the answer: “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet” (Mt 2:5), and, enlightened by these words, they chose to press forward to the very end.  From Jerusalem they went on to Bethlehem.  In other words, they went from the word which showed them where to find the King of the Jews whom they were seeking, all the way to the end, to an encounter with the King who was at the same time the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Those words  are also spoken for us.  We too have a choice to make.  If we think about it, this is precisely our experience when we share in the Eucharist.  For in every Mass the liturgy of the Word introduces us to our participation in the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ and hence introduces us to the Eucharistic Meal, to union with Christ.  Present on the altar is the One whom the Magi saw lying in the manger: Christ, the living Bread who came down from heaven to give life to the world, the true Lamb who gives his own life for the salvation of humanity.  Enlightened by the Word, it is in Bethlehem – the “House of Bread” – that we can always encounter the inconceivable greatness of a God who humbled himself even to appearing in a manger, to giving himself as food on the altar.

We can imagine the awe which the Magi experienced before the Child in swaddling clothes.  Only faith enabled them to recognize in the face of that Child the King whom they were seeking, the God to whom the star had guided them.  In him, crossing the abyss between the finite and the infinite, the visible and the invisible, the Eternal entered time, the Mystery became known  by entrusting himself to us in the frail body of a small child.  “The Magi are filled with awe by what they see; heaven on earth and earth in heaven; man in God and God in man; they see enclosed in a tiny body the One whom the entire world cannot contain” (Saint Peter Chrysologus, Serm. 160, No. 2).  In these days, during this “Year of the Eucharist”, we will turn with the same awe to Christ present in the Tabernacle of mercy, in the Sacrament of the Altar.  Dear young people, the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist.  Only he gives the fullness of life to humanity!  With Mary, say your own “yes” to God, for he wishes to give himself to you.  I repeat today what I said at the beginning of my Pontificate: “If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great.  No!  Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide.  Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed.  Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation” (Homily at the Mass of Inauguration, 24 April 2005).  Be completely convinced of this: Christ takes from you nothing that is beautiful and great, but brings everything to perfection for the glory of God, the happiness of men and women, and the salvation of the world.

In these days I encourage you to commit yourselves without reserve to serving  Christ, whatever the cost.  The encounter with Jesus Christ will allow you to experience in your hearts the joy of his living and life-giving presence, and enable you to bear witness to it before others.  Let your presence in this city be the first sign and proclamation of the Gospel, thanks to the witness of your actions and your joy.  Let us raise our hearts in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the many blessings he has given us and for the gift of faith which we will celebrate together, making it manifest to the world from this land in the heart of Europe, a Europe which owes so much to the Gospel and its witnesses down the centuries. 

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