Pope tells young people to come to Lisbon to rediscover the ‘embrace between peoples'
The pope released a message ahead of WYD in August 2023 when young Catholics from every continent will meet him in Portugal. In today’s “troubling times, [. . .] racked by the tragedy of war” and the pandemic, Mary can open a “path of proximity and encounter” for young people.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis released a message for World Youth Day 2022-2023, to be held in Lisbon next year.
In it he addresses young people, writing: “it is my dream that at World Youth Day you will [. . .] rediscover in Lisbon – with God’s help – the joy of a fraternal embrace between peoples and generations, an embrace of reconciliation and peace, an embrace of new missionary fraternity!
Issued today, the message focuses on two dates in the coming months. The first one is 20 November, when dioceses around the world will celebrate locally, with young people, the Solemnity of Christ the King; the second is the great gathering of young Catholics from every continent to meet with the pope in Portugal’s capital, from 1 to 6 August 2023.
For both, Francis proposed the same theme: Mary “arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39)”, which refers to the Gospel story of Our Lady setting out on a journey to go and serve her cousin Elizabeth right after the angel told the latter that she was with child.
“In these troubling times, when our human family, already tested by the trauma of the pandemic, is racked by the tragedy of war, Mary shows to all of us, and especially to you, young people like herself, the path of proximity and encounter.
“I hope and I firmly believe that the experience many of you will have in Lisbon next August will represent a new beginning for you, the young, and – with you – for humanity as a whole.”
The pope notes that after the Annunciation, Our Lady “could have focused on herself and her own worries and fears about her new condition. Instead, she entrusted herself completely to God. Her thoughts turned to Elizabeth.”
And so, “She got up and went forth, into the world of life and movement. Even though the astonishing message of the angel had caused a seismic shift in her plans, the young Mary did not remain paralyzed, for within her was Jesus, the power of resurrection”.
This is what Francis is asking from today's young people, to be “on the move” and “refuse to stand in front of a mirror to contemplate themselves or to get caught up in the ‘net’.”
Mary allowed herself to be challenged by the needs of her elderly cousin. “She did not hold back, or remain indifferent. She thought more of others than of herself. And this gave enthusiasm and direction to her life.”
Each young person can ask: “[D]o I show interest and willingness to help?” the pope writes. Of course, “To be sure, you cannot resolve all the problems of the world. Yet you can begin with the problems of those closest to you, with the needs of your own community.”
To this end, our Lady teaches us to act quickly, without delay. “It is the haste of those capable of putting other people’s needs above their own. Mary is an example of a young person who wastes no time on seeking attention or the approval of others – as often happens when we depend on our ‘likes’ on social media. She sets out to find the most genuine of all ‘connections’: the one that comes from encounter, sharing, love and service.”
“My message for you, dear young people, the great message entrusted to the Church, is Jesus! Yes, Jesus himself, in his infinite love for each of us, his salvation and the new life he has bestowed upon us.”
For Francis, “Mary is our model; she shows us how to welcome this immense gift into our lives, to share it with others, and thus to bring Christ, his compassionate love and his generous service to our deeply wounded humanity.”
In this regard, Pope Francis mentions how many young missionaries have left Lisbon over the centuries to “share their experience of Jesus with other peoples and nations”. In Portugal, from Fatima, Our Lady “addressed to people of all ages the powerful and magnificent message of God’s love, which summons us to conversion and to true freedom.”
Thus, “Like Mary, let us ‘arise and go in haste’. Let us carry Jesus within our hearts, and bring him to all those whom we meet! In this beautiful season of your lives, press ahead and do not postpone all the good that the Holy Spirit can accomplish in you!”