KORAZIM, Israel, March 24 (RNS)-Celebrating Mass for tens of thousands of young people on the Biblical Mount of Beatitudes Friday, Pope John Paul II challenged the youth of the world to become the apostles of the 21st century.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations," the pope said. "For 2,000 years, Christ's followers have carried out this mission. Now, at the dawn of the third millennium, it is your turn. It is your turn to go out into the world to preach the message of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes."

On the fifth day of his weeklong pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Roman Catholic pontiff flew in a military helicopter to Korazim in Galilee in the north of Israel to celebrate the youth Mass, meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and visit sites of Jesus' ministry in the towns of Tabgha and Capernaum.

"I believe the visit of the pope is of immense historical importance," Barak said after the 15-minute private meeting with John Paul in the Franciscan Sanctuary of the Mount of the Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee. "It became a major step toward reconciliation between the Jewish people and Christianity."

The Israeli leader said he briefed John Paul in "a very detailed way on the peace process on both the Syrian-Lebanese and Palestinian tracks," and he predicted that the pope's "message of tolerance" would "improve the atmosphere between Jews and Christians, and in this region, improve the peace process."

The 79-year-old pontiff, looking more relaxed than he has at any time during his grueling trip, shook hands cordially with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and other Israeli ministers involved in his visit.

"See you again," he said as they left in order to return home before the start of the Jewish Sabbath at sundown Friday.

John Paul devoted the rest of the day to the spiritual pilgrimage he had hoped to make to the places where Jesus lived. He left the sanctuary in his popemobile, a bulletproof glass box on the bed of a small truck, to visit the Churches of the Multiplication of the Loaves and of the Primacy of Peter in Tabgha and the Sanctuary of the House of St. Peter at Capernaum.

The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves contains the remains of a fourth-century church on the traditional site of Jesus' miracle of the loaves and fish.

The Church of the Primacy of Peter stands on the shore of the Sea of Galilee where, according to tradition, Jesus performed the second miracle of the fish after his Resurrection and conferred the primacy of the church on Peter, making him the first pope.

The sanctuary at Capernaum is a glass building in the shape of a boat constructed in 1990 around the remains of Peter's house, which the first Christians had used as a church. Nearby are the ruins of the town's ancient synagogue.

Capernaum was home to the Apostles Andrew, James, and John as well as Peter, and the place from which Jesus conducted his ministry.

The hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee was muddy after heavy rain overnight, and a cold wind whipped the pope's gold vestments, but the estimated 70,000 young people sang and danced during the Mass and applauded with enthusiasm.

Organizers expected 100,000 people to attend the Mass, including 2,400 from the United States and thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank.

Although Israel promised full access to Palestinian Christians, bad weather and reported bureaucratic problems securing permits to enter Israel kept many away.

Informed that the Israeli Meteorological Service had advised late Thursday that the pope cancel what was to be the largest and last public Mass of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, John Paul said, "Don't even talk about it," sources in his entourage reported.

The pope called the gathering on the Mount of the Beatitudes "a rehearsal for the World Youth Day to be held in August in Rome" as part of Jubilee Holy Year celebrations. He urged the young people to join in that event as well.

Archbishop Boutros Mouallem, patriarch of Israel's 54,000-member Greek Melkite community, welcomed John Paul to Korazim, and the Latin Rite Mass incorporated texts from the Greek Melkite, Maronite, Byzantine, and Syrian rites.

The site was at the heart of Jesus' three-year ministry in the Galilee.

According to the Gospels, it was on that steep slope above the sea that Jesus gathered his disciples to hear the Sermon on the Mount, instituted the 12 Apostles, and after his Resurrection, sent them out to evangelize all the nations.

"Like the first disciples at the Sea of Galilee, you must leave your boats and nets behind, and that is never easy--especially when you face an uncertain future and are tempted to lose faith in your Christian heritage," the pope told the young people.

As he has throughout his time in Israel, the pope emphasized Christianity's roots in the Old Testament. He recalled that he began his pilgrimage marking the third millennium of Christianity last month on Egypt's Mount Sinai, where the Bible says God spoke to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments.

"The first to hear the Beatitudes of Jesus bore in their hearts the memory of another mountain, Mount Sinai," John Paul said. "These two mountains--Sinai and the Mount of the Beatitudes--offer us the road map of our Christian life and summary of our responsibilities to God and neighbor."

"Jesus himself says that he came not to abolish but to fulfill the Law. His message is new, but it does not destroy what went before; it leads what went before to its fullest potential. Jesus teaches that the way of love brings the Law to fulfillment. And he taught his enormously important truth on this hill here in Galilee."

Paraphrasing Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, John Paul said, "Blessed are you, he says, all you who are poor in spirit, gentle and merciful, you who mourn, who care for what is right, who are pure in heart, who make peace, you who are persecuted. Blessed are you."

The pope said that although Jesus seems to be exalting "those whom the world generally regards as weak," he actually is challenging his disciples to "a great change of heart. He says to them, 'Blessed are you who seem to be losers because you are the true winners: The kingdom of heaven is yours.'" The pontiff warned the young people that in the world of the 21st century, they will hear "two voices competing for your hearts even now on this hill, the choice between good and evil, between life and death. You are aware of another voice within you and all around you, a contradictory voice. It is a voice which says, 'Blessed are the proud and violent, those who prosper at any cost, who are unscrupulous, pitiless, devious, who make war not peace, and persecute those who stand in their way,'" he said.

"And this voice seems to make sense in a world where the violent often triumph and the devious seem to succeed. 'Yes,' says the voice of evil, 'they are the ones who win. Happy are they.'"

At the end of the Mass, 12 girls dressed in white set loose 12 white pigeons, each carrying a beatitude. Representatives of an Israeli foundation also presented the pope with the first of the saplings to be planted in a forest named in his honor.

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