Those who wish to be Jesus' disciples, to be "his faithful friends," and to "experience his love," must learn how to love from him.
Going off the cuff, the Pope said that Jesus' "true friends" stand out because theirs is a "genuine love that shines forth in their way of life," through "real actions."
"Those who are not real and genuine and who speak of love are like characters is a soap opera, some fake love story," he said.
"Before all else, love is beautiful, it is the path to happiness," Pope Francis said, but he warned that this path is also demanding and "requires effort."
The Pope gave the example of everyone who has given us a gift, invested time, and sacrificed for our sake. He cited in particular the sacrifices made by the parents and group leaders who organized the pilgrimages to Rome for this weekend's Jubilee for boys and girls.
"To love means to give, not only something material, but also something of one's self: one's own time, one's friendship, one's own abilities."
Addressing the teens present at the Mass, Francis acknowledged their "growing desire to demonstrate and receive affection."
"The Lord, if you let him teach you, will show you how to make tenderness and affection even more beautiful," the Pope said.
Moreover, this love is not possessive, but allows the other person freedom. "There is no true love that is not free!" he said in unscripted remarks.
Today's "consumerist culture" reinforces the temptation to "'have to have' what we find pleasing," the Pope said.
"Yet when we hold on too tightly to something, it fades, it dies, and then we feel confused, empty inside."
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
"The Lord, if you listen to his voice, will reveal to you the secret of love. It is caring for others, respecting them, protecting them and waiting for them."
Pope Francis acknowledged the teenagers "great longing for freedom," but warned that freedom does not mean "doing whatever you want."
This interpretation of freedom "makes us self-centred and aloof, and it prevents us from being open and sincere friends."
"Instead, freedom is the gift of being able to choose the good," he said. "The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort."
Pope Francis stressed that love is more than a "sweet poem" we study and memorize, but a "life choice" which must be practiced.
"Love is nurtured by trust, respect and forgiveness," he said, adding that we grow in love through Jesus, who "gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgives and peace in Confession. There we learn to receive his love, to make it ours and to give it to the world."
"And when loving seems hard, when it is difficult to say no to something wrong, look up at Jesus on the cross, embrace the cross and don't ever let go of his hand. He will point you ever higher, and pick you up whenever you fall."