11/14/2023, 15.38
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Pope Francis tells young people not to give up on seeing and sowing hope

In his message for World Youth Day, which will be celebrated in the dioceses on Sunday, 26 November, the pontiff also mentions the scourge of youth suicide. “When we think of human tragedies, [. . .] we can also be part of God’s answer to the problem.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis released a message to young people today for the 38th diocesan World Youth Day, which will be celebrated on 26 November 2023, solemnity of Christ the King.

In it, the pontiff writes: “We are living at a time, though, when for many people, including the young, hope seems absent. Sadly, many of your contemporaries who experience wars, violent conflict, bullying and other kinds of hardship, are gripped by despair, fear and depression.”

He also mentions the great meeting in Lisbon last summer and the appointment for 2027 in Asia when the WYD will stop in Seoul. The Jubilee in Rome in 2025 will come between the two, centred on the virtue of hope, as in “rejoicing in hope”, words from Saint Paul (Rm, 12:22), in this year’s World Youth Day.

“I would like to take you by the hand and walk with you on the path of hope,” writes the pope. “I would like to speak with you about our joys and hopes, but also of our sorrows and concerns, and those of all our brothers and sisters in the human family (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 1)

The pontiff notes that when these words were written, during Paul’s time, Christians were “undergoing harsh persecution.”

“The ‘joy in hope’ proclaimed by the Apostle is the fruit of Christ’s paschal mystery and the power of his resurrection. It is not a product of our human efforts, plans or skills, but of the energy born of an encounter with Christ.”

“Sadly, many of your contemporaries who experience wars, violent conflict, bullying and other kinds of hardship, are gripped by despair, fear and depression. They feel as if they are in a dark prison, where the light of the sun cannot enter.

“A dramatic sign of this is the high rate of suicide among young people in different countries.  In such situations, how can we experience the joy and hope of which Saint Paul speaks?

“There is a risk that instead we will fall prey to despair, thinking that it is useless to do good, since it would not be appreciated or acknowledged by anyone.”

For Christians, as people created in God’s image and likeness, the task is to "be signs of his love, which gives rise to joy and hope even in situations that appear hopeless.”

The pope cites as an example the young father in the movie "Life is Beautiful," who “with great sensitivity and creativity, manages to transform harsh realities into a kind of adventure and game.”

“We see them played out in the lives of so many saints who were witnesses of hope even amid the most horrid examples of human evil. We can think of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Saint Josephine Bakhita, and Blessed Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children.”

“[T]hat was the hope of the Virgin Mary, who remained steadfast beneath the cross of Jesus, certain that the ‘good outcome’ was near.”

For the pontiff, “Christian hope is no facile optimism, no placebo for the credulous: it is the certainty, rooted in love and faith, that God never abandons us and remains faithful to his promise”.

“Christian hope is not a denial of sorrow and death; it is the celebration of the love of the risen Christ, who is always at our side, even when he seems far from us.”

Hope, Francis adds, must be nurtured and the first step is prayer, because, as Benedict XVI wrote, even “when no one listens to me any more, God still listens to me”.

Hope is also fed through daily choices. Francis suggests one that young people can actually make.

“On social media, it always seems easier to share negative things than things that inspire hope. So my concrete suggestion is this: each day, try to share a word of hope with others. Try to sow seeds of hope in the lives of your friends and everyone around you.”

The message also turns to another image dear to young people, that of the smartphone that spreads light at night with a flashlight.

“At huge concerts, thousands of you move these modern candles to the rhythm of the music; it is an impressive sight. At night, light makes us see things in a new way, and in the darkness a certain beauty shines forth. So it is with the light of hope which is Christ. From Jesus, from his resurrection, our lives take on light. With him, we see everything in a new light.”

Hope is also the gaze with which to look at one's daily life as well. “The challenges and difficulties will always be there, but if we possess a hope ‘full of faith’, we can confront them in the knowledge that they do not have the final word. And we ourselves can become a small beacon of hope for others.”

Like the disciples who came down from the mountain after the Transfiguration, “We must not flee from the world, but love the times in which God has placed us, and not without reason.”

“Dear young people, do not be afraid to share with others the hope and joy of the risen Christ! Nurture the spark that has been kindled in you, but at the same time share it. You will come to realize that it grows by being given away!”

“Stay close in particular to your friends who may be smiling on the outside but are weeping within, for lack of hope. Do not let yourselves be infected by indifference and individualism. Remain open, like canals in which the hope of Jesus can flow and spread in all the areas where you live.”

Finally, Francis addresses another invitation to young people, to take up the Final Document of the Synod dedicated to them in 2018 and the Apostolic Exhortation Christus vivit.

“The time is ripe to take stock of the situation and to work together with hope for the full implementation of that unforgettable Synod.”

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