“Don't believe those who would distract you from the real treasure, which you are, by telling you that life is beautiful only if you have many possessions.”
Delivering his homily to the over 90,000 people overflowing the Square, Pope Francis assured the teens that, because of their friendship with Christ, they are never alone.
“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.”
“The biggest threat to growing up well comes from thinking that no one cares about us, from feeling that we are all alone,” he said. “The Lord, on the other hand, is always with you and he is happy to be with you.”
Moreover, Jesus calls young people to follow him, just as he did the first disciples, the Pope added. “Jesus is waiting patiently for you. He awaits your response. He is waiting for you to say 'yes'.”
The Jubilee for boys and girls, geared specifically towards young teenagers, is the latest initiative for the Holy Year of Mercy, which began on December 8. The three-day event started Saturday with the sacrament of reconciliation in St. Peter's Square – where Pope Francis himself heard confessions -- followed by a youth rally in Rome's Olympic Stadium.
In his homily, Pope Francis stressed that love is the “Christian's identity card,” and is “the only valid 'document' identifying us as Christians.”
“If this card expires and is not constantly renewed, we stop being witnesses of the Master,” he said.
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.”
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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.