.- The virtue of faith “accomplishes a revolution” in the lives of believers, which brings our way of thinking and acting into line with God's, Pope Francis told World Youth Day pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro.
“Faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope,” the Pope taught during his homily for a Liturgy of the Word held as a welcoming ceremony for the event.
“To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different,” he said at the liturgy held on Copacabana beach July 25.
Earlier in the day, Pope Francis had visited a slum and met with Argentine pilgrims. He was welcomed to Copacabana by Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, who said the “challenging task” of World Youth Day is to bring “the hope of Christ” to the “many youth saddened in a world of consumerism, egoism, inequalities and false joys.”
The archbishop called the assembled pilgrims “protagonists of a new world,” returning to a theme he had sprinkled throughout his homily at the opening Mass of World Youth Day on Tuesday.
Archbishop Tempesta also made reference to Pope Francis' emphasis at the opening of his pontificate that the Church must “always confess Jesus Christ in our journey of faith and mission, so as to not fall into the temptation of being a socio-charitable NGO.”
Pope Francis then offered a quick greeting to the pilgrims, in which he observed a minute of silent prayer for the soul of Sophie Morinière, a French World Youth Day pilgrim who died in an automobile accident yesterday in French Guiana.
He encouraged the pilgrims, saying, “I have come today to confirm you in (the) faith … but I have also come to be confirmed by the enthusiasm of your faith.”
He was then welcomed by five youths, each representing one of the continents. The pilgrim from the Americas said, “we wish to manifest our joy and to say that it is very good to be here.”
The Gospel proclaimed at the Liturgy of the Word told of the Transfiguration of Jesus, and Pope Francis began by affirming that “here today, it is good for all of us to be gathered together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and who is present in our midst here in Rio.”
Christians are called to welcome Jesus in return, by “putting on” the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.
“To put on,” he said, is “to pour over,” comparing “putting on faith” with placing salt, or oil, atop a plate of food.
“'Put on faith', and your life will take on a new flavor, it will have a compass to show you the way,” he proclaimed.
By putting on hope, one's days and horizon will be “enlightened,” he added, and “putting on love” builds a solid foundation for one's life and the journey of life “will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you.”
Faith, hope and love are Christ's gift, Pope Francis said, and Christ is “the one who brings God to us and us to God.”
“With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus’
standpoint,” and so we must also “put on Christ.”
In putting on Christ, he said you receive a friend in whom you can always have faith; “wings of hope” for the journey into the future; and a “fruitful” life, “full of his love.”
“I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus?”
The Pope acknowledged the temptation to “put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power.”
“But it is not so,” he reflected.
Rather, possessions, money and power “end up possessing us,” leaving us unsatisfied and always wanting more, with only an “illusion of being happy.”
Pope Francis contrasted the pursuit of fleeting pleasures with the willingness to be pursued by Jesus.
“'Put on Christ' in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed.”
Faith, he said, “accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God.”
The fruits of the Holy Spirit “find a home in our heart” through faith, “and our very being is transformed.”
With the gift of faith “our way of thinking and acting” is renewed, transformed into “Jesus' own, God's own” way of acting and thinking.
That this World Youth Day is being held during the Year of Faith, the Pope said, “is truly a gift to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.”
Pope Francis told the more than one million gathered pilgrims that Christ awaits them in his sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist. “Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness,” he emphasized.
“He never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy!”
“He is waiting for you in his flesh in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love.”
The Pope also encouraged the youth to seek Jesus in their fellow pilgrims, who will “teach you the language of charity, goodness and service.”
“You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of his love, courageous witnesses of
his Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of his light,” he assured them.
“'It is good for us to be here'”, he concluded, “putting on Christ in our lives, putting on the faith, hope and love which he gives us.”
Pope Francis re-visited his emerging World Youth Day theme of being “disciples and missionaries” with the Mother of God. “Like her, may we say 'Yes' to God.”
“Let us ask that her maternal heart intercede for us, so that our hearts may be open to loving Jesus and making others love him. He is waiting for us, and he is counting on us. Amen.”
Tags: World Youth Day