08/21/2011, 00.00
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Pope: Share with others the joy that we have received

At the concluding Mass of World Youth Day, Benedict XVI proposes for young people to enter into a personal relationship with Christ, to find out more and more in the Church, to go into all the world to witness. The communion is not distributed to all participants because of the damage caused by the storm the night before. The next World Youth Day will be in Rio de Janeiro.
Madrid (AsiaNews) - "Seeing you here, gathered in such great numbers from all parts of the world, fills my heart with joy. I think of the special love with which Jesus is looking upon you. Yes, the Lord loves you and calls you his friends (cf. Jn 15:15). He goes out to meet you and he wants to accompany you on your journey, to open the door to a life of fulfilment and to give you a share in his own closeness to the Father. For our part, we have come to know the immensity of his love and we want to respond generously to his love by sharing with others the joy we have received"

This is the life plan that Benedict XVI delivered this morning at the concluding Mass of World Youth Day (WYD) in Madrid’s Cuatro Vientos airport, turned into a vast expanse of flags, hats, multicoloured shirts.

In this space, the equivalent of 50 football pitches, two million young people spent the night in prayer, dancing, meditations, rest. Before the celebration, the pope greeted them, thanking them for their courage in defying the intemperate weather and difficulties during the night.

The powerful storm the night before damaged 17 temporary chapels located in various areas of the camp, which were to have been places of perpetual adoration during the night. One of them collapsed, slightly injuring seven young Spaniards. The police cordoned off the area for safety. As a result, there were difficulties in meeting the needs of the 2 million people present. In addition, because of the enormous influx of young people, some of the emergency channels were filled by newcomers, making the crowd flow in some areas of Cuatro Ventos impossible. Because of this, the organizers warned and asked young people for the sacrifice of going without receiving Communion, which was only distributed to people on the stage and a few other sectors.

Taking the Mass Gospel (Mt 16.13 to 20) the pope spoke of " two different ways of knowing Christ”. In the first “Christ is seen as yet another religious figure, like those who came before him", iin the second " is more than just empirical or historical facts; it is an ability to grasp the mystery of Christ’s person in all its depth"

"Faith - explained the pope - does not simply provide information about who Christ is; rather, it entails a personal relationship with Christ, a surrender of our whole person, with all our understanding, will and feelings, to God’s self-revelation. So Jesus’ question: “But who do you say that I am?”, is ultimately a challenge to the disciples to make a personal decision in his regard".

“Dear young people, - he continued - today Christ is asking you the same question which he asked the Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” Respond to him with generosity and courage, as befits young hearts like your own. Say to him: “Jesus, I know that you are the Son of God, who have given your life for me. I want to follow you faithfully and to be led by your word. You know me and you love me. I place my trust in you and I put my whole life into your hands. I want you to be the power that strengthens me and the joy which never leaves me”.

Since “Christ cannot be separated from the Church”, “following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church. We cannot follow Jesus on our own. Anyone who would be tempted to do so “on his own”, or to approach the life of faith with kind of individualism so prevalent today, will risk never truly encountering Jesus, or will end up following a counterfeit Jesus”. “I ask you, dear friends,- he adds - to love the Church which brought you to birth in the faith, which helped you to grow in the knowledge of Christ and which led you to discover the beauty of his love”.

“Friendship with Jesus– concluded Benedict XVI - will also lead you to bear witness to the faith wherever you are, even when it meets with rejection or indifference. We cannot encounter Christ and not want to make him known to others. So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith. The world needs the witness of your faith, it surely needs God”.

The vigil yesterday focused on the need for mission in a world dominated by indifference and rejection of faith. Today the Pope went further, urging young people to universal mission: "I think that the presence here of so many young people, coming from all over the world, is a wonderful proof of the fruitfulness of Christ’s command to the Church: “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). You too have been given the extraordinary task of being disciples and missionaries of Christ in other lands and countries filled with young people who are looking for something greater and, because their heart tells them that more authentic values do exist, they do not let themselves be seduced by the empty promises of a lifestyle which has no room for God".

The theme of the mission among peers was also the focal point of his final farewell to the young people of WYD 2011. Indeed, Cardinal. Stanislas Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, who presented the young people as "the youth of the Pope," spoke of a "missionary mandate". For this, five young people received from the hands of the pontiff a crucifix, while all the youth were wearing a small crucifix around their neck as a sign of witness, which the Pope has blessed.

And before the end of Mass, Benedict XVI told them: " I invite you to give a bold witness of Christian living to them. In this way you will give birth to new Christians and will help the Church grow strongly in the hearts of many others. During these days, how often I have thought of the young people at home who are waiting for your return! Take my affectionate greetings to them, to those less fortunate, to your families and to the Christian communities that you come from”.

The pope then gave an appointment for the next World Youth Day in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro: " I am pleased now to announce that the next World Youth Day will be held in 2013, in Rio de Janeiro. Even now, let us ask the Lord to assist all those who will organize it, and to ease the journey there of young people from all over the world, so that they will be able to join me in that beautiful city of Brazil".

And then he added: " before we say good-bye, and while the young people of Spain pass on the World Youth Day cross to the young people of Brazil, as Successor of Peter I entrust all of you present with this task: make the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ known to the whole world! He wants you to be the apostles of the twenty-first century and the messengers of his joy. Do not let him down! Thank you very much".

And greeting Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, he told them: "I hope to meet you in two years time at the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro."

The Mass ended with the Angelus prayer, in absolute silence. Immediately after the party begun, especially among young Brazilians.

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