Church depends on youth for its missionary dynamism: said Pope Francis

Pope Francis on Saturday expressed confidence that young people will provide the missionary dynamism for the Church’s evangelizing thrust in today’s fast changing, globalized and greatly interconnected world, saying they are not just the future but also the Church’s present.

His remarks came in a prepared address to a festive rally in the Vatican that brought together some 7,000 young people from various parts of the world and the Synod Fathers who are participating in the October 3-28 Synod of Bishops on the theme , “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

The Church goes out with the young
“The Church, therefore, does not go out 'to' the new generations, but goes out 'with' the new generations, and the Synod is the fruit of a work in which you have been and are protagonists,” the Pope said.

Saturday’s rally entitled “Noi Per. Unici, Solidali, Creativi”-  meaning young people for uniqueness, solidarity and creativity – was a variety programme that included singing, dancing, music, performances, testimonies from young people from around the world and their questions to the Pope on some of the burning issues that they are faced with.

The Pope said the contribution of the young people will be used by the Synod Fathers in their work in order to continue the dialogue with them.

Moving testimonies
Daniel Zaccaro, a 25 year old Italian from a poor, crime-ridden neighbourhood of Milan narrated how he sank into crime, landing in prison at the age of 18.  But good souls helped him come out of the dark tunnel and today he is in university.

Another young man from Iraq, Aziz Sadeq, narrated how in just one day, without warning, he lost his home, friends, family and dreams when terrorists invaded his village.  He was 18.  After two months of despair in exile, France welcomed his parents, where Sadeq has managed to rebuilt his life.  He has graduated from high school and is in the university today.

Rising again
Pope Francis said he was moved by their “personal stories, imbued with passion and pain, animated by desires, solicited by aspirations, marked by falls but also by the desire to rise again, to face the challenges of life in a positive way and to run towards the most beautiful goals.”

The Pope said they have experienced first-hand the illusions of contemporary man, who believes he can dominate the world and at times does not realize that he is in turn dominated by idols such as money, power and pleasure, that sow injustice and corruption.  “But the most touching thing in your stories,” the Pope said, “is the discovery that another life is possible.”  “Jesus does not leave us alone in our adventure, especially in moments that put us to the test.”

Pope at Santa Marta: Hypocritical Christians behave like pagans

We who are born in a Christian society risk living out our Christianity as “a social habit,” in a purely formal manner, with the “hypocrisy of the just,” who are afraid to allow themselves to love. And when Mass is over, we leave Jesus in the Church; He does come with us when we return home, or in our daily lives. Woe to us! When we do this, we cast Jesus from our hearts: “We are Christians, but we live as pagans.”

Pope Francis was commenting on the day’s Gospel, from St Luke, in which Jesus rebukes the people of Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum, who refused to believe in Him despite having seen the miracles He performed.  In his homily at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father called on all of us to make an examination of conscience.

Jesus weeps for those who cannot love
Jesus is saddened at being rejected, Pope Francis explained, while the pagan cities like Tyre and Sidon, seeing His miracles, “surely would have believed.” And He wept, “because these people were not capable of loving,” although “He desired to reach all the hearts He met, with a message that was not a dictatorial message, but a message of love.”

Born Christian, but we forget Jesus
We, each of us, can put ourselves in the place of the inhabitants of these three cities, Pope Francis said: “I, who have received so much from the Lord, who was born in a Christian society, who have known Jesus Christ, who have known salvation,” I who was educated in the faith. Yet it is so easy for me to forget Jesus. On the other hand, “we think of the news of other people, who, as soon as they heard the proclamation of Jesus, converted and followed Him.” But we’ve grown used to it:

And this attitude is harmful to us, because it reduces the Gospel to a social or sociological fact, rather than a personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus speaks to me, He speaks to you, He speaks to each one of us. Jesus’ preaching is meant for each one of us. How is it that those pagans, as soon as they heard the preaching of Jesus, went with him; and I who was born here, in a Christian society, have become accustomed to it, and Christianity has become like a social habit, a garment that I put on and then lay aside? And Jesus weeps over each one of us when we live out our Christianity formally, not really.