"We are called to serve the crucified Jesus in all those who are marginalized, to touch his sacred flesh in those who are disadvantaged, in those who hunger and thirst, in the naked and imprisoned, the sick and unemployed, in those who are persecuted, refugees and migrants," he said. "There we find our God; there we touch the Lord."
He said the credibility of Christians is at stake in how they welcome both those who suffer physically and those who suffer spiritually.
"The Way of the Cross is the way of fidelity in following Jesus to the end, in the often dramatic situations of everyday life," he added. "It is a way that fears no lack of success, ostracism or solitude, because it fills ours hearts with the fullness of Jesus."
Christ brings this path even to societies that are divided, unjust, and corrupt.
"The Way of the Cross is not a sadomasochistic habit. The Way of the Cross alone defeats sin, evil and death, for it leads to the radiant light of Christ's resurrection and opens the horizons of a new and fuller life. It is the way of hope, the way of the future," the Pope said. "Those who take up this way with generosity and faith give hope and a future to humanity."
"And I would like you to be sowers of hope," he added.
"Dear young people, on that Good Friday many disciples went back crestfallen to their homes," he concluded. "Others chose to go out to the country to forget the cross."
"I ask you – and respond, each of you, silently in your hearts – how do you want to go back this evening to your own homes, to the places where you are staying? Your tents? How do you want to go back this evening to be alone with your thoughts? The world is watching us. Each of you has to answer the challenge that this question sets before you."
He added special mention of those attending World Youth Day from war-torn Syria: "Tonight Jesus, and we with him, embrace with particular love our brothers and sisters from Syria who have fled from the war. We greet them, and we welcome them with fraternal affection and friendship."