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Synod of Bishops 2018: Letter to Youth

A Secret for Increasing Joy in Life

An Encounter that changed life




Life is a precious gift and it comes to us with its challenges.

Do you know that the welfare of the world around you can be better because of you?

Do you like to walk on the footsteps of people who made the world a better one?

Do you realise that your life would become very interesting and fulfilling?

"The Christian Life as Discipleship"
Pope Francis

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During the Mass on Thursday in Bogotá, we heard Jesus calling his first disciples; the part of Luke’s Gospel which opens with this passage, concludes with the call of the Twelve.  What are the evangelists reminding us of between these two events?  That this journey of following Jesus involved a great work of purification in his first followers.  Some of the precepts, prohibitions and mandates made them feel secure; fulfilling certain practices and rites dispensed them from the uncomfortable question: “What would God like us to do?”  

The Lord Jesus tells them that their fulfilment involves following him, and that this journey will make them encounter lepers, paralytics and sinners.  These realities demand much more than a formula, an established norm.  The disciples learned that following Jesus presupposes other priorities…  For the Lord, as also for the first community, it is of the greatest importance that we who call ourselves disciples not cling to a certain style or to particular practices that cause us to be more like some Pharisees than like Jesus...  This is what he wants for us, to follow him in such a way as to go to what is essential, to be renewed, and to get involved.  These are three attitudes that must form our lives as disciples.

1. Going to what is essential
This does not mean “breaking with everything”, breaking with that which does not suit us, because Jesus did not come “to abolish the law, but to fulfil it” (Mt 5:17).  Going to what is essential means to go deep, to what matters and has value for life. 

Jesus teaches that being in relationship with God cannot be a cold attachment to norms and laws, nor the observance of some outward actions that do not lead to a real change of life… Discipleship must begin with a living experience of God and his love.  It is not something static, but a continuous moving forwards towards Christ…

2. Being renewed
As Jesus “shook” the doctors of the law to break them free of their rigidity, now also the Church is “shaken” by the Spirit in order to lay aside comforts and attachments.  We should not be afraid of renewal.  The Church always needs renewal.  She does not renew herself on her own whim, but rather does so “firm in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel” (Col 1:23). 

Renewal entails sacrifice and courage, not so that we can consider ourselves superior or flawless, but rather to respond better to the Lord’s call.  The Lord of the Sabbath, the reason for our commandments and prescriptions, invites us to reflect on regulations when our following him is at stake; when his open wounds and his cries of hunger and thirst for justice call out to us and demand new responses…

3. The danger of globalization
Even if it may seem that you are getting yourself dirty or stained, get involved.  Like David and those with him who entered the Temple because they were hungry and the disciples of Jesus who ate ears of grain in the field, so also today we are called upon to be brave, to have that evangelical courage which springs from knowing that there are many who are hungry, who hunger for God - how many there are who hunger for God – who hunger for dignity, because they have been deprived.  I ask myself if the hunger of God in so many might arise because we have deprived them through our attitudes. 

As Christians, help them to be satiated by God; do not impede them or prevent such an encounter.  Brothers and Sisters, the Church is not a border station; she needs open doors, because the heart of her God is not only open, but also pierced by the love which has embodied pain… He who has prepared the nuptial feast for his Son, utters the command to invite everyone: the healthy and the sick, the good and the bad, everyone.  We are simple servants (cf. Col 1:23) and we cannot prevent this encounter.  On the contrary, Jesus tells us, as he told his disciples: “You give them something to eat” (Mt 14:16); this is our service.  To eat the bread of God, to eat the love of God, to eat the bread which helps us to stay alive...