I’m reading City of Saints: A Pilgrimage to John Paul II’s Krakow and really enjoying it. (When I finish, I will post a book review.) Yesterday I read part of St. John Paul II’s speech to the youth during his first pastoral pilgrimage to Poland as pope. It was beautiful, so I decided to pass it along.
All that I can say to you is summed up in the words: Get to know Christ and make yourselves known to him. He knows each one of you in a particular way. It is not a knowledge that arouses opposition and rebellion, a knowledge that forces one to flee in order to safeguard his own inward mystery. It is not a knowledge made up of hypotheses and reducing man to his dimensions of social utility. The knowledge of Christ is a knowledge full of the simple truth about “man” and, above all, full of love. Submit yourselves to this simple and loving knowledge of the Good Shepherd. Be certain that he knows each one of you more than each one of you knows himself. He knows because he has laid down his life.
Allow him to find you. A human being, a young person, at times gets lost in himself, in the world about him, and in all the network of human affairs that wrap him round. Allow Christ to find you. Let him know all about you and guide you. It is true that following someone requires also making demands on our selves. That is the law of friendship. If we wish to travel together, we must pay attention to the road we are to take. If we go walking in the mountains, we must follow the signs. If we go mountain climbing, we cannot let go of the rope. We must also preserve our unity with the Divine Friend whose name is Jesus Christ. We must cooperate with him. (City of Saints, p. 145)
St. John Paul II spoke these words in 1979 to the Polish youth, but I believe they are just as relevant today. In seeking Christ, or in simply allowing Him to find us, we are able to understand more about ourselves. St. John Paul II knew this not because of deep theological study but because of intense personal experience. That is really the only way one can come to know and love Jesus Christ.