Thus "the first step is not to be afraid to welcome life as it comes, to embrace life!"
Pope Francis then reflected on the testimony of Alfredo Martínez Andrión, a Panamanian youth who turned to drugs after dropping out of school and losing his job, saying that our lives are "rootless and parched" when we lack work, education, community, and family.
"It is impossible for us to grow unless we have strong roots to support us and to keep us firmly grounded. It is easy to drift off, when nothing holds us down," he said, adding that older people need to ask, "What roots are we providing for you, what foundations for you to grow as persons?"
"It is easy enough to criticize and complain about young people if we are depriving them of the jobs, education and community opportunities they need to take root and to dream of a future," the pope said. "Without education, it is difficult to dream of a future; without work, it is very difficult to dream of a future; without a family and community, it is almost impossible to dream of a future. Because dreaming of a future means learning how to answer not only the question for what I am living, but also for whom I am living, who makes it worthwhile for me to live my life."
Communities in which people have something to contribute are essential to human well-being, the pope said, adding this was understood by the saints, pointing to John Bosco, who "learned to see with God's eyes everything that was going on in his city. So, he was struck by the hundreds of children and young people left to themselves, without education, without work and without the helping hand of a community."
"Many other people were living in the same city, and many criticized those young people, but they were unable to see them with God's eyes. Don Bosco did, and found the energy to take the first step: to embrace life as it presented itself. From there, he was not afraid to take the second step: to create a community, a family with them, where through work and study they could feel loved. He gave them roots from which they could reach up to heaven."
Human persons can always flourish "when there is a community, a warm home that enables us to take root … Through real faces, the Lord makes himself present."
"Be guardians of everything that can make us feel part of one another, to feel that we belong," Francis exhorted.
He quoted the early 20th century Chilean Jesuit St. Alberto Hurtado, asking, "Will the progress of society consist only in owning the latest car or buying the newest gadget on the market? Is that the extent of our greatness as human beings? Is that all there is to live for?"
"So let me ask you: Is that your idea of greatness? Weren't you created for something more? The Virgin Mary understood this and said, 'Let it be done!' Erika and Rogelio understood this and said, 'Let it be done!' Alfredo understood this and said, 'Let it be done!' Nirmeen understood this and said, 'Let it be done!'"
"Young friends, I ask you: Are you willing to say 'yes'? The Gospel teaches us that the world will not be better because there are fewer sick, weak, frail or elderly people to be concerned about, or because there are fewer sinners. Rather it will be better when more people, like these friends, are willing and enthused enough to give birth to the future and believe in the transforming power of God's love."
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The pope said: "Only love makes us more human and fulfilled; everything else is a pleasant but useless placebo."