“Today Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life, is calling you to leave your mark on history,” the Pope told the estimated 1.6 million people attending Saturday’s vigil at the “Campus Misericordiae” – or “Field of Mercy.”
“Jesus,” however, “is the Lord of risk, of the eternal ‘more’,” he said. “Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths.”
“They have a name, they have a face, they have a story, they are close at hand,” he said referring to the suffering which young people like Rand have experienced, coming from war-torn Syria.
He asked for prayers for all those affected by war in Syria and other parts of the world in order that, “once and for all, may we realize that nothing justifies shedding the blood of a brother or sister; that nothing is more precious than the person next to us.”
“Both of you are a living sign of what God’s mercy wants to accomplish in us,” he said.
Rather, the name which should be given to the response to war is “fraternity,” “brotherhood,” “communion,” and “family.”
“We celebrate the fact that coming from different cultures, we have come together to pray,” he said. “Let our best word, our best argument, be our unity in prayer.”
“Let us also place before the Lord your own “battles”, the interior struggles that each of your carries in his or her heart.”
“Picturing them can help us come to appreciate all that God dreams of accomplishing in our lives, in us and with us,” he said.
On that day, the disciples huddled behind locked doors, paralyzed by the fear of persecution, the Pope recounted.
“Then, in that situation, something spectacular, something grandiose, occurred,” he said. “The Holy Spirit and tongues as of fire came to rest upon each of them, propelling them towards an undreamt-of adventure.”
Like the disciples, the young people who gave their testimonies know “the fear and anguish born of knowing that leaving home might mean never again seeing their loved ones, the fear of not feeling appreciated or loved, the fear of having no choices.”
“Thinking that in this world, in our cities and our communities, there is no longer any room to grow, to dream, to create, to gaze at new horizons – in a word to live – is one of the worst things that can happen to us in life,” he said.
“When we are paralyzed, we miss the magic of encountering others, making friends, sharing dreams, walking at the side of others.”
“For many people, that is more convenient than having young people who are alert and searching, trying to respond to God’s dream and to all the restlessness present in the human heart.”
“But when we opt for ease and convenience, for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price indeed: we lose our freedom,” he said.
“This is itself a great form of paralysis, whenever we start thinking that happiness is the same as comfort and convenience, that being happy means going through life asleep or on tranquillizers, that the only way to be happy is to live in a haze.”
“Jesus is not the Lord of comfort, security and ease. Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths.”
He told young people to take the path of the “craziness” of our God, by which he means caring for those in need, be they neighbors, prisoners, friends, refugees, or migrants.
“That is the secret, dear friends, and all of us are called to share in it. God expects something from you. God wants something from you. God hopes in you. God comes to break down all our fences.”
“God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in. He is encouraging you to dream. He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different.”
“For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different.”
It is not a time for young “couch potatoes,” the Pope said, but for protagonists of history.
“History today calls us to defend our dignity and not to let others decide our future,” he said.
“Jesus is inviting you, calling you, to leave your mark on life, to leave a mark on history, your own and that of many others as well,” he said.
“Have the courage to teach us that it is easier to build bridges than walls!”
“He, who is truth, is asking you to abandon the paths of rejection, division and emptiness,” he said. “Are you up to this? What answer will you give, with your hands and with your feet, to the Lord, who is the way, the truth and the life?”