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Cardinal Meissner’s homily at the opening Mass in Cologne, here:

We all have only one life. We are not granted a probationary period, free of responsibilities, like we are when we gain our driving licenses. We all set out on the road of life with a full set of responsibilities. There is no provisional license for life, love, faith or death. This is the real thing. We all carry full responsibility from the very beginning. I do not really need to tell you this, as you will be instinctively aware of it as creatures made by God.

That is what you have in common with all young people around the world. You are encountering each other this week not as strangers, but as relatives and companions. We are "relatives" because we were all created by the same God, and "companions" because we have joined each other in our search for a fulfilled and worthwhile life, for a life with God. Worship means no more, but also no less, than coming eye to eye with God and kneeling down before him — kneeling down before the child in the manger, like the Wise Men.

God has made himself so small that he fits in with our personal lives and life-stories. However, it would be easy to overlook him if we were to go through life with our noses up in the air. He becomes visible at this low level as he washes the feet of his disciples. God is down below. Worshipping him on bended knee does not make us small, it makes us great, because it takes us eye to eye with God.

This was one of three opening Masses in three cities:

In Dusseldorf:

Thousands listened with earnest faces as Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, head of the German bishops’ conference, said: "The call of God goes out to each one of us here today. The call of God always means a call for courage, although we would rather avoid responsibility and the load of going into a strange and uncertain future. But God is calling each of you individually."

The importance and power of an event such as this? Beyond what we all know and beyond the considerable impact on the participants themselves, consider this: We hear these bishops, these teachers speaking to youth, speaking to them in words that youth need to hear: this is it. This is your life…do you want to know what to do with it? Listen to God. It will take courage to follow..God will give it to you. LIsten.

And, listening ourselves, young again because in God’s eyes, we never grow old, we know it is never too late. Never.

Be as little children…

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