The vocation of the two disciples begins with a friendship with Jesus "strong enough to impose a commonality of life and passion with him," he said. In fact, they barely begin their time with Jesus and "immediately they are transformed into missionaries."
This, Francis said, is evidenced by the fact that their respective brothers – Simon Peter and James – also begin to follow Jesus. "It was an encounter so moving, so happy, that the disciples will forever remember that day which illuminated and oriented their youth."
Asking those present how to find one's vocation in modern society, Pope Francis said it can happen in many ways, but, as shown in the Gospel, a first indicator is "the joy of the encounter with Jesus."
Every vocation – whether to marriage, consecrated life or the priesthood – begins "with an encounter with Jesus who gives us new joy and hope," he said. The Lord then brings us, even amid trials and hardship, to "an increasingly full encounter with him and to the fullness of joy."
"Jesus wants people who have experienced that being with him gives immense happiness, which can be renewed every day of life," he said, adding that a disciple who is not joyful "does not evangelize this world," and is ultimately "a sad" disciple.
"You become a preacher of Jesus not by refining the weapons of rhetoric," Francis said, noting that "you can talk and talk and talk," but if there is no joy, it won't be effective.
Because of this, Christians, like Mary, must "guard the flame of their 'falling in love': in love with Jesus."
"Of course there are trials in life, there are moments in which we need to go forward despite the opposing cold and wind," the Pope said. But as Christians, "we know the path which leads to that sacred fire that he has lit once and for all."
After his address, the Pope greeted pilgrims present from various countries around the world and issued an appeal for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, celebrated Sept. 1 to coincide with the event on the Orthodox calendar.
The event was instituted by Pope Francis in 2015, and in honor of the shared day of prayer, he and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople wrote a joint-statement calling for a merciful approach to caring for creation.
In his comments, Francis noted that in their statement, both he and Bartholomew "invite everyone to assume a respectful and reasonable and attitude toward creation."
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"We also make an appeal to those who have an influential role, to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, who suffer the most from ecological imbalances."