Pope Asks Youth to Cry at Injustice, Learn How to Receive Love

Leaves Aside Text to Respond to Questions Posed by Young People

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Pope Francis again left aside his prepared text this morning at Manila’s University of Santo Tomas at a meeting with young people, speaking spontaneously in Spanish to tell the youth that they must learn to cry at injustice and they have to allow themselves to learn to be loved.

In a lengthy speech that responded to addresses from four youth, the Pope addressed questions posed by each of the young speakers.

The first pair who spoke were children who formerly lived on the street, with a boy giving his testimony and a girl asking through tears how it can be that children have to suffer such abuses.

The Pope showed that he was moved by her question and her tears, as he began his address saying that there should have been more women in the presentation, since «women have much to tell us in today’s society» and «women are capable of seeing things from a different angle to us, with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand.»

Indicating the girl who asked the question, he said that she was the only one of the group who «posed a question for which there is no answer. And she wasn’t even able to express it in words, but rather in tears.»

He went on to exhort the faithful to learn to cry at injustice, telling them that if they cannot cry at injustice, they cannot be good Christians.

«Only when we too can cry about the things which you’ve said are we able to come close to replying to that question. Why do children suffer so much? Why do children suffer? When the heart is able to ask itself and cry then we can understand something,» the Pontiff said.

He noted that Christ cried in the Gospel at the suffering of those he encountered. Christ’s compassion is in contrast, he said, to a compassion of the world, which he described as useless.

The marginalized and discarded weep, Francis continued, but those who live more or less comfortable lives often don’t know how to cry. «Certain realities in life we only see through eyes that are cleansed through our tears,» he remarked.

«And when they pose this question to us, why children suffer, why this and that tragedy occurs in life, our response must either be silence or a word that is born of our tears. Be courageous. Don’t be frightened of crying.»

His comments reminded of his own response Saturday in Tacloban, at a lunch meeting with survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. According to Cardinal Antonio Luis Tagle, archbishop of Manila, the Pope was visibly moved by the survivors’ stories, as they recounted that they had lost members of their families and their livelihoods, one explaining that she lost her husband, son and five daughters. But when the cardinal asked the Pope if he wanted to say some words to them, he responded, «What can we say?» and remained silent.

Learning to love

The Pope responded to the questions posed by the second youth, regarding the over-abundance of information provided by media in today’s world. 

He warned them of becoming like museums, full of information but unsure what to do with it.

Saying that «museum-youth» are not needed, but rather wise youth, he asked them to take up the challenge of learning to love. 

«What is the most important subject that you have to learn in university? What is the most important subject you have to learn in life? To learn how to love. This is the challenge that life offers you: To learn how to love. Not just accumulating information without knowing what to do with it. But through that love, that that information bear fruit.»

He said that the Gospel gives the tools for this lesson and it is in three languages: the language of the mind, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. 

The Pontiff said these three languages have to be used in harmony, such that «What you think, you must feel, and put into effect … To feel what you think and do. To do what you think and what you feel. The three languages.»

«Real love is about loving and letting yourselves be loved,» the Pope told them, saying the latter is the more difficult part.

«Real love is opening yourselves to the love that wants to come to you, which causes surprise in us,» he said. He spoke of how God surprises with his desire to love us, using the example of St. Matthew, who was content with all his money, levying taxes against his countrymen.

«But the surprise of being loved overcomes him and [he follows Jesus],» the Pope reflected.

Receiving from the poor

Finally the Pope addressed the last of the young speakers, who had just finished a degree in electrical engineering and used his studies to craft a solar light, which he and his team then showed typhoon survivors how to make for themselves.

While praising them for their willingness to give to others and help those in need, the Holy Father posed a question: Do you know how to receive?

In English, the Pope told the youth that they needed to «become a beggar.»

«This isn’t easy to understand,» he admitted. «To learn how to beg. To learn how to receive [from the humility of those we help]. To learn to be evangelized by the poor.»

But he said that overcoming a feeling of self-sufficiency and recognizing one’s own poverty and misery matures the commitment to give.

The poor, the infirm, the orphans «have so much to offer,» he said. «Have I learned how to beg also for that?»

The event concluded with the Pope taking the hands of two young girls as the choir sang about God’s love.

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