Marian meeting with young people and families - 1 June 2019
Thank you for your warm welcome and for your testimonies. Bishop Petru, good strong father that he is, included all of you in his introduction. And you, Eduard, confirmed this when you told us that this meeting was not simply for young people, or adults, but that you “wanted our parents and grandparents to be with us tonight”.
I am happy to know that here in this Square we see the face of God’s family, which is made up of children, young people, married couples, consecrated men and women, elderly Romanians from different regions and traditions, and others from Moldova.
The Holy Spirit has called us here and he helps us discover the beauty of being together, of being able to meet to journey together. Each of you has his or her own language and traditions, but you are happy to be here with others, with the happiness shared by Elisabeta and Ioan – aren’t these two great! – and their eleven children. This is the experience of a new Pentecost (as we heard in the reading), where the Spirit embraces our differences and gives us the strength to open up paths of hope by bringing out the best in each person.
Journeying together is not easy, is it? It is a gift that we have to ask for. A work of art for us to create, a beautiful gift for us to hand on. But where do we start, in order to journey together? I would like to take up a point made by our elderly couple, Elisabeta and Ioan. It is good to see when love sinks deep roots through sacrifice and commitment, through work and prayer. Love took root in the two of you and it has borne rich fruit. This was your dream: “We dream that they may build a future without forgetting where they came from. We dream that none of our people will forget their roots”.
Certainly, a faith that does not show up on the stock exchange, or “sell”, may not appear, as Eduard reminded us, to “be of much use”. Faith, however, is a gift that keeps alive a profound and beautiful certainty: that we are God’s beloved children. God loves with a Father’s love. Every life, and every one of us, belongs to him. We belong as children, but also as grandchildren, spouses, grandparents, friends, neighbours; we belong as brothers and sisters.
The Evil one divides, scatters, separates; he sows discord and distrust. He wants us to live “detached” from others and from ourselves. The Spirit, on the contrary, reminds us that we are not anonymous, abstract, faceless beings, without history or identity. We are not meant to be empty or superficial. There is a very strong spiritual network that unites us; one that “connects” and sustains us, and is stronger than any other type of connection. And this network is our roots: the realization that we belong to one another, that each of our lives is anchored in the lives of others. “Young people flourish when they are truly loved”, Eduard said. We all flourish when we feel loved. We belong to each other and our happiness is meant to make others happy. Everything else is nonsense.
When will the world end?
Never forget what you learned at home. Don’t forget your roots. This reminds me of the prophecy of one of the holy hermits of these lands. One day, the monk Galaction Ilie of Sihăstria Monastery was walking among sheep grazing on a mountainside when he met a saintly hermit whom he knew. He asked him: “Tell me, Father, when will the world end?” And the venerable hermit, with a deep sigh, replied: “Father Galaction, do you want to know when the world will end? When there are no more paths between neighbours! That is, when there is no more Christian love and understanding between brothers and sisters, relatives, Christians and peoples! When persons lose all their love, then it will truly be the end of the world. Because without love and without God, no one can live on the earth!”
The Lord gives us a vocation
The Lord gives us a vocation, a challenge to discover the talents and abilities we possess and to put them at the service of others. He asks us to use our freedom as a freedom to choose, to say yes to a loving plan, to a face, to a look. This is a much greater freedom than simply being able to consume and buy things. It is a vocation that sets us in motion, makes us fill in trenches and open up new avenues to remind us all that we are children and brothers and sisters to one another.
Today, from this place, new paths can open up to the future, towards Europe and many other parts of the world. Young people, you are pilgrims of the twenty-first century, capable of imagining afresh the bonds that unite us. This is less about generating great programmes or projects, than about allowing faith to grow, allowing the roots to bring us sap.
Romania is the “garden of the Mother of God”, and in this meeting I have been able to realize why. Mary is a Mother who encourages her children’s dreams, who cherishes their hopes, who brings joy to their homes. She is a tender and true Mother who cares for us. You are that living, flourishing and hope-filled community that we can offer to our Mother. To her, to the Mother, let us consecrate the future of young people, the future of families and the Church. Mulţumesc! [Thank you!].
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