Pope Francis has told young people they must not figuratively be ‘asleep’ because, as a beloved part of today’s Church, they have a duty and responsibility to bring their joy and optimism to the world.
Speaking to the more than 50,000 young people from 23 countries gathered in the Castle of Haemi for the concluding Mass of the 6th Asian Youth Day, the Pope asserted that the active witness of young people is vital to the Church. “No one who sleeps can sing, dance or rejoice,” he said.
Reflecting on the theme of the 6th Asian Youth Day—“Asian Youth! Wake up! The Glory of the Martyrs Is Upon You!”—the Holy Father told them that one part of the theme represents a duty and a responsibility, whereas the other, a consolation.
“The glory of the martyrs shines upon you!” he said, not only consoles, but also strengthens because the martyrs’ witness is proof that “the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness,” that he is “the light of our lives.”
The duty, however, is “Asian Youth! Wake Up!” “You have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies,” Francis said, stressing they should see themselves not only “as young people not in Asia, but also as sons and daughters of this great continent.”
“Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life,” he exhorted.
The Gospel has the power to “purify,” “elevate” and “perfect” Asia’s strong cultural heritage, the Pope said, allowing young Catholics to still enjoy the many positive values of diverse Asian cultures. But at the same time they will be able to discern what is incompatible with their Catholic faith.
On “Youth,” he encouraged the young people present to “Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love.”
This path, which “you are called to take,” he continued, overcomes “all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture,” and makes your “youth a gift to Jesus and to the world.”
"As young Christians,” Francis said, “you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present. You are the present of the Church,” whether at “work, study, have begun a career or have answered calls to marriage, religious life or the priesthood.”
“In your Christian lives, you will find many occasions that will tempt you,” he cautioned, but urged them in these situations to say “Lord, help me!” “Lord, help me!” and he will respond to “every plea for his help, with love, mercy and compassion.” He also said the same must be done for others because “we are to be like Christ.”
“Wake up!” means being vigilant and requires young people don’t allow “pressures, temptations and sins of ourselves or others to dull sensitivity to the beauty of holiness, to the joy of the Gospel.” Rather, the Pope said, God constantly invites his children “to be glad and sing for joy.”
“No one who sleeps can sing, dance or rejoice,” the Holy Father continued, adding off the cuff: “It’s no good when I see young people who are asleep. No! Wake up. Go. Go. Go ahead.”
Assured of God’s love, he told them to “go out to the world so that, ‘by the mercy shown to you,’ they – your friends, co-workers, neighbors, countrymen, everyone on this great continent – may now receive the mercy of God.”
Pope Francis concluded by directing them to take up this path, and declared: “Young people, Wake Up!”
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