07/27/2013, 00.00
BRAZIL - VATICAN
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WYD: follow the Cross, pope says, smitten by his love, stepping outside of "ourselves" to go towards those who suffer, those who need help

With the Cross, Jesus "is united to families in trouble, those who mourn the loss of their children, or who suffer when they see them fall victim to false paradises, such as that offered by drugs. On the Cross, Jesus is united with every person who suffers from hunger in a world where tons of food are thrown out each day; on the Cross, Jesus is united with those who are persecuted for their religion, for their beliefs or simply for the colour of their skin; on the Cross, Jesus is united with so many young people who have lost faith in political institutions, because they see in them only selfishness and corruption; he unites himself with those young people who have lost faith in the Church, or even in God because of the counter-witness of Christians and ministers of the Gospel."

Rio de Janeiro (AsiaNews) - More than a million young people filled Rio's Copacabana Beach, one of the world's iconic symbols of leisure and distraction; yet, they came for the Cross, for the reenactment of the Way of the Cross during World Youth Days. For the Pontiff, the Cross calls upon us to be smitten by this love, "teaching us always to always look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help," beckoning us to follow him who "unites himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenceless; with the Cross, he is united to families in trouble, those who mourn the loss of their children, or who suffer when they see them fall victim to false paradises, such as that offered by drugs. On the Cross, Jesus is united with every person who suffers from hunger in a world where tons of food are thrown out each day; on the Cross, Jesus is united with those who are persecuted for their religion, for their beliefs or simply for the colour of their skin; on the Cross, Jesus is united with so many young people who have lost faith in political institutions, because they see in them only selfishness and corruption; he unites himself with those young people who have lost faith in the Church, or even in God because of the counter-witness of Christians and ministers of the Gospel."

The rain that forced WYD organisers to move last night's events to Copacabana because the esplanade "De la fé" was flooded was missing today. The young people with whom the pope spent a lot of time were full of enthusiasm. He greeted them warmly, kissed children, swapped his skullcap with one offered to him by a young man, stepped off the jeep to receive a small statue of Our Lady, blessed one of Saint Francis, collected yellow WYD T-shirts launched at him, in an atmosphere of joy that did not clash with the Way of the Cross, celebrated with great participation.

Some 280 people, including artists and volunteers, led the celebration. The impressive representation of each station took place simultaneously on the Way of the Cross and on the stage in front of the Pope.  At each stage, a meditation was read centred on the problems, suffering and existential issues that today's youth face such as being missionaries and conversion.

A volunteer from a drug rehab community asked God to teach them to be like the Good Samaritan and pick up the man lying on the road. A woman mentioned the fight to defend life from conception to natural death. A woman spoke about the "victims of the culture of death", such as female sex workers, families living in poverty, the sick without care, the elderly, young people out of work. Another focused on the "falls" of the disabled. Finally, a couple in love said that passions are not secure foundations; one builds on rock only when love is the foundation.

"According to an ancient Roman tradition," the pope said in his address, "while fleeing the city during the persecutions of Nero, Saint Peter saw Jesus who was travelling in the opposite direction, that is, toward the city, and asked him in amazement: 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus' response was, 'I am going to Rome to be crucified again.' At that moment, Peter understood that he had to follow the Lord with courage, to the very end. But he also realized that he would never be alone on the journey; Jesus, who had loved him even unto death on the Cross, would always be with him. Jesus, with his Cross, walks with us and takes upon himself our fears, our problems, and our sufferings, even those that are deepest and most painful. With the Cross, Jesus unites himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenceless; with the Cross, he is united to families in trouble, those who mourn the loss of their children, or who suffer when they see them fall victim to false paradises, such as that offered by drugs. On the Cross, Jesus is united with every person who suffers from hunger in a world where tons of food are thrown out each day; on the Cross, Jesus is united with those who are persecuted for their religion, for their beliefs or simply for the colour of their skin; on the Cross, Jesus is united with so many young people who have lost faith in political institutions, because they see in them only selfishness and corruption; he unites himself with those young people who have lost faith in the Church, or even in God because of the counter-witness of Christians and ministers of the Gospel. The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own. Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on his shoulders our crosses and saying to us: 'Have courage! You do not carry your cross alone! I carry it with you. I have overcome death and I have come to give you hope, to give you life'."

"And so we can answer the second question: What has the Cross given to those who have gazed upon it or touched it? What has it left in each one of us? It gives us a treasure that no one else can give: the certainty of the unshakable love that God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love that enters into death to conquer it and to save us. The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God, his immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe. Dear young people, let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, let us give ourselves over entirely to him (cf. Lumen Fidei, 16)! Only in Christ crucified and risen can we find salvation and redemption. With him, evil, suffering, and death do not have the last word, because he gives us hope and life: he has transformed the Cross from an instrument of hate, defeat and death into a sign of love, victory and life."

"But the Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to always look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action which requires us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them. How many people were with Jesus on the way to Calvary: Pilate, Simon of Cyrene, Mary, the women? . . . Sometimes we can be like Pilate, who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus' life, and instead washed his hands. Dear friends, the Cross of Christ teaches us to be like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus to carry that heavy wood; it teaches us to be like Mary and the other women, who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness. And you? Who are you like? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary? Jesus is looking at you right now and asking you, 'Can you help me carry the Cross?"

"Dear friends, let us bring to Christ's Cross our joys, our sufferings and our failures. There we will find a Heart that is open to us and understands us, forgives us, loves us and calls us to bear this love in our lives, to love each person, each brother and sister, with the same love. Amen!"

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