Throngs of young people celebrated the last public engagement of Pope Francis in Thailand. The pontiff urged them “to set off and look to the future to meet with the most beautiful thing he wants to give us: Christ’s definitive coming into our lives and our world.”
Bangkok AsiaNews) – Throngs of young people were in a celebratory mood for the last public engagement of Pope Francis in Thailand. Tomorrow morning at 9.30am local time (2.30am GMT), Francis will leave for Japan, the second and final leg of his Asian trip, where he will arrive at 5.40pm local time (9.40am GMT).
Young people stood along the road the Pope travelled to reach the Cathedral of the Assumption where at 5pm local time (10am GMT) he celebrated Mass with young people. The latter, dressed in the traditional garments of their respective ethnic groups, brought offerings. Young people waited outside the cathedral for the end of the celebration to greet the Pope. Quite a few wore shirts bearing the Pope’s printed face on them, which also appeared on large banners placed on the façade of the cathedral.
In his address, Francis urged young people “to set off and look to the future to meet with the most beautiful thing he wants to give us: Christ’s definitive coming into our lives and our world.” For this reason, “it is necessary to be well rooted in the faith of our elders: parents, grandparents and teachers.”
"This beautiful Cathedral,” Francis told them, “bears witness to the faith in Christ that your ancestors had. Their deeply rooted fidelity prompted them to do good works, to build another temple, one that was even more beautiful, built with living stones, in order to bring God's merciful love to the people of their time. They were able to do this because they were convinced of what the prophet Hosea proclaimed in today’s first Reading: God spoke to them with tenderness, he embraced them with strong love, forever (see Hos, 2:16-21).”
“Dear friends, in order for the fire of the Spirit not to go out, and for you to keep your eyes and heart alive, it is necessary to be well rooted in the faith of our elders: parents, grandparents and teachers”. This means “Not to remain prisoners of the past, but to learn to have the courage that can help us respond to new historical situations. Theirs was a life that endured many trials and much suffering. But along the way, they discovered that the secret of a happy heart is the security that we find when we are anchored, rooted in Christ, in his life, words, death and resurrection.”
“I have sometimes seen young and beautiful trees, their branches reaching to the sky, pushing ever higher, and they seemed a song of hope. Later, following a storm, I would find them fallen and lifeless. They lacked deep roots. They spread their branches without being firmly planted, and so they fell as soon as nature unleashed her power. That is why it pains me to see young people sometimes being encouraged to build a future without roots, as if the world were just starting now. For ‘it is impossible for us to grow unless we have strong roots to support us and to keep us firmly grounded. It is easy to drift off, when there is nothing to clutch onto, to hold onto’ (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus vivit, 179).”
“Without this strong sense of rootedness, we can be bewildered by the ‘voices’ of this world, which compete for our attention. Many of these are attractive, well ‘made-up’ proposals, which at first seem beautiful and intense, but over time they end up leaving only emptiness, tiredness, loneliness and listlessness (ibid, 142), extinguishing the spark of life that one day the Lord kindled in each of us.”
“Dear young people! You are a new generation, with new hopes, new dreams and new questions, and certainly also with some doubts; but, rooted in Christ, I urge you to keep the joy alive and not to be afraid to look to the future with confidence. Rooted in Christ, look with joy and confidence. This condition stems from knowing that Lord wanted us, met us and loved us infinitely. The nurtured friendship with Jesus is the oil needed to lit up the path, your path, but also that of all those around you: friends, neighbours, fellow student and co-workers, including those who completely disagree with you. Let us go forward to the coming Lord! Don’t be afraid of the future and don’t let yourselves be intimidated; on the contrary, be aware that the Lord is waiting for you to prepare and celebrate the feast of his Kingdom.”
At the end of the Mass, Francis thanked “all those who made my visit to Thailand possible and who worked on its realisation.”