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‘Don’t be discouraged: proclaim hope’ Pope urges WYD pilgrims

By editor - 01 August, 2016


On Sunday, Pope Francis revealed to over one million young pilgrims attending World Youth Day in Poland that Panama City will host the next such gathering in three years’ time in 2019.

In the last address of his five-day visit to Poland, as he thanked World Youth Day volunteers for their hard work, the Pope said he didn’t know whether he would still be around for the next WYD gathering but that “Peter certainly will”.

He reminded the young pilgrims that if they want to represent hope for the future they must remember their origins.

“I must ask myself where I come from… the memory of my people, the memory of my family, and the memory of my history. […] The memory of a path that has already been trodden and all that we have received from adults. A young person with no memory cannot be a beacon of hope for the future,” he said.

And the Pope invited all young people to speak and to listen to their parents, to their grandparents and to elderly people in general whom – he said – represent the wisdom of a people.

Another necessary condition if you want to be a beacon of hope for the future, the Pope said, is to live the present with courage, ‘not to be afraid’.

Pope Francis told the young pilgrims that “World Youth Day begins today and continues tomorrow, in your homes, since that is where Jesus wants to meet you from now on.”

“What is clearly evident here in Krakow is that the youth are ready and willing for the challenge. They want to show people back in their own countries that it’s ok to stand up and express one’s faith with pride. They want show that there is a cheerful aspect to the Church and they want to let it shine through just like here at World Youth Day. They also want to tell their communities back home that Jesus is alive and his mercy never ends.”

Referring to Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Francis talked about Zacchaeus and the obstacles to his encounter with Jesus.

One obstacle Zacchaeus had to face was not an interior one, but was all around him. It was the grumbling of the crowd, who first blocked him and then criticised him: ‘How could Jesus have entered his house, the house of a sinner!’

“How truly hard it is to welcome Jesus, how hard it is to accept a ‘God who is rich in mercy’ (Eph 2:4)! People will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad.

Instead, our heavenly Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Mt 5:45). He demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies.

The Pope warned his listeners that people may laugh at them because they believe in “the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy (Mt 5:7).”

“People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded.”

“Don’t be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!” the Pope exhorted.

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