If the Cross is accepted, it generates salvation and brings peace, as is evidenced by the many beautiful testimonies given by young believers. Without God, the Cross crushes us; with God, it redeems and saves us.

St. Pope John Paul II

Just as it is not foreign to Rome, the Cross is not foreign to the life of every man and woman of any age, people or social condition. In the course of this encounter, you have become acquainted with various persons, more or less wellknown and famous. In different ways they have encountered and are encountering the mystery of the Cross; they have been touched and almost marked by it. Yes, the Cross is written into man’s life. Wanting to exclude it from one’s own life is like wanting to ignore the reality of the human condition. This is how it is! We are made for life, yet we cannot eliminate suffering and trials from our personal experience. And you too, dear young people, do you not experience the reality of the Cross every day? Then when there is no peace in the family, when it becomes difficult to study, when sentiments are not reciprocated, when it is almost impossible to find work, when plans for having a family have to be delayed for financial reasons, when you must contend with illness, loneliness and when there is a risk of falling prey to a dangerous emptiness of values, is it not the Cross that challenges you?

A widespread culture of the ephemeral, which gives value only to what appears beautiful and gives pleasure, would like to make you believe that the Cross should be removed. This cultural trend promises success, rapid promotion and self assertion at all costs; it is an invitation to sexuality lived irresponsibly and a life devoid of interests and respect for others. Open your eyes wide, dear young people; this is not the way that leads to joy and to life, but the path that sinks into sin and death. Jesus says: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16:24-25).

Jesus does not deceive us. With the truth of his words, which sound harsh but fill the heart with peace, he reveals to us the secret of authentic life. By accepting the condition and destiny of man, he overcame sin and death and, rising, transformed the Cross from a tree of death into a tree of life. He is God-with-us, Christ is God-with-us, Emmanuel, (Mt 1:23), who came to share our whole life. He does not leave us alone on the cross. Jesus is the faithful love that does not abandon us and knows how to turn the night into the dawn of hope. If the Cross is accepted, it generates salvation and brings peace, as is evidenced by the many beautiful testimonies given by young believers. Without God, the Cross crushes us; with God, it redeems and saves us.

St. John Paul II, to the young people gathered to prepare for Palm Sunday, Piazza San Giovanni (Rome), Thursday, 2 April 1998