MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER
ON THE OCCASION OF THE TWENTY-FIFTH WORLD YOUTH DAY
(MARCH 28, 2010)
“Good Teacher, what must I do
to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17)
This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the inauguration of World Youth Day in response to the desire of the Venerable John Paul II for an annual gathering of young people of faith from throughout the world. It was a prophetic initiative that has borne abundant fruits, enabling the new generations of Christians to meet one another, to listen to the Word of God, to discover the beauty of the Church, and to have a deep experience of faith. This led many of them in turn to decide to ...view middle of the document...
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me’. At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions” (Mk 10: 17-22).
This Gospel passage shows us clearly how much Jesus was concerned with young people, with all of you, with your expectations and your hopes, and it shows how much he wants to meet you personally and to engage each of you in conversation. Christ interrupted his journey to stop and answer the young man’s question. He gave his full attention to this youth who was moved with an ardent desire to speak to the “good Teacher” and to learn from him how to journey through life. My Predecessor used this Gospel passage to urge each of you to “develop your own conversation with Christ – a conversation which is of fundamental and essential importance for a young person” (Letter to Young People, No. 2).
2. Jesus looked at him and loved him
In his Gospel account, Saint Mark emphasises that “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (Mk 10: 21). The Lord’s gaze is at the heart of this very special encounter and the whole Christian experience. To be sure, Christianity is not primarily a moral code. It is an experience of Jesus Christ who loves each of us personally, young and old, poor and rich. He loves us even when we turn away from him.
When Pope John Paul II commented on this scene, he turned to you and added: “May you experience a look like that! May you experience the truth that he, Christ, looks upon you with love!” (Letter to Young People, No. 7). It was love, revealed on the Cross so completely and totally, that led Saint Paul to write in amazement: “He loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal 2:20). Pope John Paul II wrote that “the awareness that the Father has always loved us in his Son, that Christ always loves each of us, becomes a solid support for our whole human existence” (ibid.). It enables us to overcome all our trials: the realization of our sins, our sufferings and our moments of discouragement.
In this love we find the source of all Christian life and the basic reason for evangelization: if we have really encountered Jesus, we cannot help but bear witness to him before those who have not yet met his gaze!
3. Finding a plan in life
If we look at the young man in the Gospel, we can see that he is much like each of you. You too are rich in talents, energy, dreams and hopes. These are resources which you have in abundance! Your age itself is a great treasure, not only for yourselves but for others too, for the Church and for the world.
The rich young man asks Jesus: “What must I do?” The time of life which you are going through is one of discovery: discovery of the gifts which God has bestowed upon you and your own responsibilities. It is also a time when you are making crucial choices about how you will live your lives. So it is a time to...