Earlier today, Pope Francis received members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America who are in Rome for their Plenary Assembly. The commission met this week to discuss the theme: Educational Emergency and the Transmission of the Faith to Latin American Youth.
The Holy Father reflected on the handing over, or ‘traditio’, of faith to young people, saying that in doing so, the Church must follow the example given by Christ. An example, he noted, “of commitment, of service, of selfless love, of the struggle for justice and truth.”
“The Holy Mother Church is convinced that the best teacher for the young is Jesus Christ,” he said. “She wishes to instil in them these same sentiments, showing them how beautiful it is to live as He did, banishing selfishness and allowing oneself to be drawn by the beauty of goodness.”
The Pope explained that one who know Jesus does “not stay on the couch”, instead he follows the Christ’s style, thus becoming a missionary disciple and an enthusiastic witness to faith.
Recalling the Gospel of Luke, which recounts Christ’s meeting with a rich, young man, the Holy Father reflected on three aspects of that encounter. The first aspect, that of welcome, shows Jesus putting Himself in another’s situation, looking at him with compassion.
“We must not abandon the young, or leave them at the roadside; they have a great need to feel valued in their dignity, surrounded by affection, and understood,” the Pope said.
Regarding the second aspect, the Pope stressed the importance of “frank and cordial dialogue” as Christ did when listening to the rich young man’s worries. “Jesus listened, without condemning; he was without prejudice, he did not speak about the usual things,” he noted. “In the same way, the young want to feel at home in Church. Not only must the Church open her doors to them; she must actively seek them”.
Concluding with the final aspect, Pope Francis highlighted Christ’s invitation to follow Him as well as conveying the need for young people to hear this invitation as well.
“They must hear that Christ is not a character in a novel, but a living person, who wants to share their irrepressible desire for life, commitment, and dedication. If we content ourselves with offering them mere human comfort, we let them down. It is important to offer them the best we have: Jesus Christ, His Gospel, and with Him, a new horizon, which enables them to face life with coherence, honesty and high-mindedness,”
The Holy Father called on the members of the Pontifical Commission to accept this challenge with determination. “The youth are waiting for us. We must not let them down,” he stressed.