.- In his encounter of thanks with the volunteers at World Youth Day, Pope Francis exhorted the young people to make commitments, and not be afraid to follow God's will into marriage or consecrated life.
“God calls you to make definite choices … to respond to your vocation is to move towards personal fulfillment,” Pope Francis told the thousands of volunteers gathered to meet with him in Rio de Janeiro July 28, shortly before he returns to Rome.
The Pope was first addressed by two of the volunteers, one from Brazil and one from Poland. The Brazilian told that “we volunteers are here with great joy in order to bear witness” to Christ and thanked him for the visit to this country.
Victoria, the Polish volunteer, told him that “with joy we await you in our country,” and added, “we shall, with God's help, do all that is in our power in order that the next World Youth Day might be even more beautiful.” Earlier in the day, Pope Francis had announced that the next event is to be held in Krakow, the city of Blessed John Paul II, in 2016.
Pope Francis responded by saying that “I could not return to Rome” without having thanked all the volunteers for their “countless” acts of loving service to the pilgrims in Rio.
“With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you've shown it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Their example, he said, was in the model of St. John the Baptist, who prepared the way of the Lord. “Every one of you,” he said, “was a means … to meet Jesus. And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples, to prepare the way so that all might meet, know, and love the Lord.”
Pope Francis prayed that those who had responded to generously to the call for World Youth Day volunteers may “always be generous with God and with others. One loses nothing thereby, but gains great enrichment in life.”
From that basis, the Bishop of Rome talked about the importance of being generous with God and others on a larger scale, a life-long scale.
“God calls each of us to be holy … but he has a particular path for each of us.”
Some, he said, “through family life in the sacrament of marriage.” He noted that many consider marriage “out of fashion,” and added that “in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many (say) it is not worth making a life-long commitment, a definitive decision, forever, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.”
“I ask you instead to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide. Yes, I am asking you to rebel! To rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary, and ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, of true love.”
“I have confidence in you,” he assured them. “And I pray for you.”
He re-iterated, “have courage to swim against the tide, to be happy.”
Pope Francis added that also, some are called to be priests, giving “themselves to him more fully” and loving “with the heard of the Good Shepherd,” and some are called to religious life, “giving of themselves for the sake of all.”
He recalled the day when he first heard God calling him to the priesthood, as he was on his way to a parish for confession at the age of 17.
“Do not be afraid of what God asks of you … in him we find real joy.”
To those who do not yet know what God is calling them to, the Pope urged them to “ask the Lord, and he will show you the way.”
Pope Francis concluded by thanking them again for their service, and assuring them of his prayers. He led them in praying the Hail Mary, and blessed them, seeming to have finished his encounter with them.
But, as he was preparing to leave, the Holy Father took back the microphone from the encounter's emcee, and added one last comment to the World Youth Day volunteers.
“One more thing: pray for me!”