When he arrived Pope Francis was greeted by Bishop Gervas Rozario, Vice President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Bangladesh. He then listened to two testimonies from young people, the first being student Upasana Ruth Gomez, who spoke about the struggle to stay hopeful in the face of oppression and injustice. The second testimony was from Anthony Toranga Nokrek, who spoke about the need to stay focused in order to be open to and welcome God's message to them.
In his speech, Pope Francis pointed to how Anthony had said that youth are now "growing up in a fragile world that cries out for wisdom."
This word, he said, is key, because "once you move from 'journeying' to 'wandering aimlessly,' all wisdom is lost! The one thing that directs and guides us on to the right path is wisdom, the wisdom born of faith."
Francis stressed that this "is not the false wisdom of this world," and to attain it, "we have to look at the world, our situations, our problems, everything, with the eyes of God."
When we look at the world with the eyes and wisdom of God, we are also able to recognize and reject the false forms of happiness the world offers, he said, adding that "a culture that makes these false promises cannot deliver."
"It only leads to a self-centredness that fills the heart with darkness and bitterness," whereas the wisdom of God "helps us to know how to welcome and accept those who act and think differently than ourselves."
Pope Francis said it's sad when we start to "shut ourselves up in our little world and become inward-looking," living by the "my way or the highway" principle.
By doing this, "we become trapped, self-enclosed," he said, explaining that when an entire people, religion or society does this, turning into "a little world," they lose the best part of themselves and "plunge into a self-righteous mentality of 'I am good and you are bad.'"
God's wisdom, however, "opens us up to others. It helps us to look beyond our personal comforts and the false securities which blind us to those grand ideals which make life more beautiful and worthwhile."
The Pope then noted how the crowd wasn't just made up of Catholics, but that many Muslims and youth from other religions were also present. This fact, he said, is a visible sign of their determination "to foster an environment of harmony, of reaching out to others, regardless of your religious differences."
He recalled an experience working with students in Buenos Aires who were building rooms for a new parish in a poor neighborhood. They all came from different backgrounds and held different beliefs, but, "they were all working for the common good."
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Despite their different backgrounds, these students "were open to social friendship and were determined to say no to anything that would detract from their ability to come together and to help one another."
As he often does, the Pope then emphasized the importance of interacting with the elderly, who he said help us "to appreciate the continuity of generations."
Elderly, he said, have the wisdom to help us avoid repeating past mistakes, and have the "charism of bridging the gap," meaning they are sure to pass on the most important values to their children and grandchildren.
Francis said the elderly also help us to realize that history didn't begin with us, and that we are part of something much bigger than we are, so "keep talking to your parents and grandparents. Do not spend the whole day playing with your phone and ignoring the world around you!"
He closed his speech noting how both Anthony and Upasana had ended their testimonies with an expression of hope for the future.
The wisdom of God "reinforces the hope in us and helps us to face the future with courage," he said, noting that Christians find this wisdom in a personal encounter with Jesus in prayer, in the sacraments, and in service to the poor, sick, suffering and abandoned.