At the heart of Pope Francis’ message during the Jubilee Mass for Teens celebrated on Sunday, April 24, 2016 was quite simply one word Love.
The Pope told the thousands of 13 to 16 year olds gathered in St Peter’s Square that “love, was the Christian’s identity card, the only valid “document” identifying us as Christians. If this card expires and is not constantly renewed,” he said, “we stop being witnesses of the Master.”
Then he asked the teenagers gathered “Do you want to experience the love of Jesus? Let us learn from him, for his words are a school of life, a school where we learn to love.”
The Holy Father noted, however, that although love is beautiful and it the path to happiness it is not necessarily and easy path. It is, he said, demanding and it requires effort.
The Lord, Pope Francis stressed, is generous, “he offers us his faithful friendship, which he will never take back. Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself.” This is very important, the Pope noted because, “the biggest threat to growing up well comes from thinking that no one cares about us, from feeling that we are all alone.”
During his homily the Pope also warned the teens present to be on their guard against what he called “an instinctive desire to “have to have” what we find pleasing,” adding, “our consumerist culture reinforces this tendency.”
“Don’t be content with mediocrity, with simply going with the flow, with being comfortable and laid back,” the Holy Father said. He also told the teenagers to be skeptical about “people who want to make you believe that you are only important if you act tough like the heroes in films or if you wear the latest fashions.” Your happiness, the Pope continued, has no price. “It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love.”
Pope Francis invited those present in St Peter’s Square to be courageous and firm in their decisions because, he said, it is only by doing this you will realize your greatest dreams, adding, “if a person of your age can’t dream they are already in retirement, this serves nothing.” Love does not happen because we talk about it, the Pope underlined, “but when we live it.” He also said : “In the art of climbing, the important thing is not to remain on the ground when you fall.”
The Holy Father concluded his homily by saying to the teenagers “you will do amazing things if you prepare well, starting now, by living your youth and all its gifts to the fullest and without fear of hard work. Be like sporting champions, he said who attain high goals by quiet daily effort and practice.”
During his Regina Coeli address on Sunday, Pope Francis prayed for the release of those priests and religious held hostage in Syria saying, “may the merciful God touch the hearts of the kidnappers.” He also remembered young martyrs killed during the Spanish Civil War who were beatified in Burgos, Spain on Saturday, April 23.