I miss the World Youth Day in Brazil. My blog was full of messages of hope and smiling faces. Pope Francis was surprising the world with his way of approaching people and speaking to them. More than three million in Copacabana beach praying, something never seen before in such a place.
The Pope’s message to the young people wasn’t easy. It was demanding. And the young were listening. Last Sunday, the Pope asked in Rome for prayers for the participants to translate to their lives what they experienced in Brazil.
“I want to ask you to pray with me, that the young people that participated in World Youth Day will be able to translate this experience into their daily journey, in their everyday conduct; and that they will be able to translate it in the most important choices of their life, responding to the personal call of the Lord”, he said.
“Today in the liturgy the provocative words of Qoheleth resonate: “Vanity of vanities . . . all things are vanity”. Young people are particularly sensitive to the emptiness of meaning and values that surrounds them. And they, unfortunately, pay the consequences. On the other hand, the encounter with the living Jesus, in the great family that is the Church, fills the heart with joy, because it fills it with true life, a profound goodness that does not pass away or decay: we have seen this in the faces of the youths in Rio”.
“But this experience must face the daily vanity, the poison of emptiness that insinuates itself into our society based on profit and having [things], that deludes young people with consumerism”.
“The Gospel of this Sunday reminds us of the absurdity of basing their happiness on ‘having’. “The rich man says to himself: ‘My soul, you have many good things stored up . . . rest, eat, drink, be merry!’ But God says to him: ‘You fool, this very night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’” .
“Dear brothers and sisters, true wealth is the love of God, shared with the brothers. That love that comes from God and makes us share among ourselves, and makes us help one another. He who experiences this does not fear death, and receives peace of heart. Let us entrust this intention, the intention of receiving the love of God and sharing it with our brothers, to the Virgin Mary,” he concluded.
Now, with the WYD in Brazil already finished, my blog is back full of bad, depressing news. That doesn’t mean all that strength and hope seen at Rio de Janeiro is gone. That doesn’t mean that nothing else is happening. There are a lot of good people doing good things around the world, making peace, helping each other, fighting hate, living with values, but they are not making news. We are living in a culture of materialism, and because of that, pessimist, short-sighted. Events like the WYD and words like the ones Pope Francis is offering to the world are helping many people to look up with hope.