YOUR LIFE IS THE GREATEST GIFT FROM GOD
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?
Address at the Meeting with Youth National Shrine of Maipú, Santiago
Wednesday, 17 January 2018
I too am happy to be with you. Thank you for your words of welcome in the name of all present. I am the one who is grateful for being able to share this time with you. For me, it is very important for us to meet and walk with one another for a while. Let’s help each other to keep looking ahead!
I am happy that this meeting is taking place here in Maipú. In this land where the history of Chile began with a fraternal embrace, in this Shrine that rises at the crossroads of north and south, that joins the snow and the sea, and is a home to both heaven and earth. A home for Chile, a home for you, dear young people, where Our Lady of Carmel waits for you and welcomes you with an open heart. Just as she accompanied the birth of this nation and has accompanied so many Chileans over the span of these two hundred years, so too she wants to keep accompanying the dreams that God places in your hearts: dreams of freedom, dreams of joy, dreams of a better future: the desire, as you said, Ariel, “to be protagonists of change”...
Our Lady of Mount Carmel accompanies you so that you can be protagonists for the Chile of which your hearts dream... It was young people like yourselves, who were inspired to experience the adventure of faith. For faith excites in young people feelings of adventure, an adventure that beckons them to traverse unbelievable landscapes, rough and tough terrain…
Synod for Youth
Realizing how important young people and their experiences are, this year I wanted to call the Synod, and before it, the meeting of young people, so that you can feel – and really be – protagonists in the heart of the Church. To help keep the Church’s face young, not by applying cosmetics but by letting her be challenged deep down by her sons and daughters, to help her daily to be more faithful to the Gospel... All of us are all invited, ever anew, to draw near to Jesus.
Let me share a story with you. Chatting one day with a young man, I asked him what sort of things made him unhappy. He said to me: “When my cellphone battery runs down or I lose my internet connection”. I asked him: “Why?” He answered: “Father, it’s simple; I miss out on everything that is going on, I am shut off from the world, stuck. In those moments, I jump up and run to find a charger or a Wi-Fi network and a password to reconnect”.
This made me think that the same thing can happen with our faith. After a while on the journey or after an initial spurt, there are moments when, without even realizing it, our “bandwidth” begins to fade and we lose our connection... Without a connection, a connection to Jesus, we end up drowning our thoughts and ideas, our dreams and our faith, and so we get frustrated and annoyed.
As protagonists, which we are and we want to be – we can get to the point of feeling that it makes no difference whether or not we do anything... All of us are necessary and important; all of us have something to offer.
Keep the flame alive be courageous
The young people in the Gospel we heard today wanted that “connection” to help them keep the flame alive in their hearts. They wanted to know how to charge the power cells of their heart. Andrew and the other disciple – whose name is not given, so we can imagine that each of us is that “other” disciple – were looking for the password to connect with the one who is “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).
Dear friends, be courageous, go out straightaway to meet your friends, people you don’t know, or those having troubles. Go out with the only promise we have: that wherever you are – in the desert, on the journey, amid excitement, you will always be “connected”; there will always be a “power source”.
Dear friends, dear young people: “Be young Samaritans, who never walk past someone lying on the roadside. Be young Simons of Cyrene who help Christ carry his cross and help alleviate the sufferings of your brothers and sisters. Be like Zacchaeus, who turns his heart from materialism to solidarity. Be like young Mary Magdalene, passionately seeking love, who finds in Jesus alone the answers she needs.
Have the heart of Peter, so that you can abandon your nets beside the lake. Have the love of John, so that you can rest all your concerns in him. Have the openness of Mary, so that you can sing for joy and do God’s will.
I would have liked to stay longer. Thank you for this meeting and for your joyfulness. I ask you one favour: please remember to pray for me.