Pope's Address to Young People at Manila's University of Santo Tomas

“I want to transmit to you the love and hopes that the Church has placed in you”

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On Sunday, the Pope improvised an address to youth, speaking in Spanish to the hundreds of thousands gathered at Manila’s University of Santo Tomas.

The meeting, which was a Liturgy of the Word service, was opened by the President of the Episcopal Commission for Young People and Bishop of Bangued, Monsignor Leopoldo C. Jaucian, SVD, and the greeting of a family.

After the enthronement of the Holy Cross, the testimonies of four youths – who also posed questions to the Pontiff – and biblical readings took place. Then the Holy Father gave a spontaneous address.

The Pontiff began by saying in English:

“Dear young friends, when I speak spontaneously I do so in Spanish, no? Because  I don’t know the English language. May I do so? Thank you very much! Father Marc here is a good translator.”

And he continued in Spanish:

“First of all, some sad news. Yesterday, while the Mass was about to begin, one of the towers – like that one – fell and, as it fell, it wounded a girl who was working there and she died. Her name is Kristel. She worked in the organization of that Mass. She was 27. She was young like you. She worked for an association called Catholic Relief Services. She was a volunteer.

I would like us, all together, and you, young people like her, to pray for a minute in silence and then we will invoke our heavenly Mother.

Let us pray.

[They prayed a Hail Mary all together in English]

And we also pray for her father and her mother. She was an only child. Her mother is arriving from Hong Kong. Her father has come to Manila to await her mother.”

{They prayed an Our Father all together in English]

The Pope spoke in English again and read some phrases of the text he prepared for the occasion. So, he said:

“I’m happy to be with you this morning. My affectionate greeting goes to each one of you and my gratitude to all those who made this meeting possible. On my visit to the Philippines, I wished to meet especially with you, young people, to listen to you and to talk with you. I want to transmit to you the love and hopes that the Church has placed in you. And I wish to encourage you, as Christian citizens of this country, to give yourselves passionately and sincerely to the great task of the renewal of your society, and that you help to build a better world.

In a special way I thank the young people who addressed words of welcome to me.”

And he added:

“Jun Chura, Leandro Santos II, Rikki Macolor, thank you very much.”

Again in Spanish, Francis continued saying:

“And the little representation of women … too few, no? [The only girl from the group of youth speakers accompanied Jun, tearfully posing the question that followed his testimony] Women have much to say to us in today’s society. Sometimes we are too machistas, and we leave no room for women, but women are able to see things with eyes that are different from those of men. Women are able to ask questions that we men never understand. Pay attention: today asked the only question that does not have an answer And words weren’t enough; she needed to say them with tears. So, when the next Pope comes to Manila, there must be more women.

I thank you, Jun, for expressing your experience so courageously. As I just said, the core of your question almost doesn’t have an answer. Only when we are able to weep about the things that you lived, can we understand something and answer something. The great question for all is: Why do children suffer? Why do children suffer?

Only when the heart is able to ask the question and weep can we understand something. There is a worldly compassion, which is of no use to us. You spoke a bit about this … a compassion that at most makes us put our hand in our pocket and give a coin. If Christ had had that sort of compassion, he would have gone by, curing three or four, and would have returned to the Father. It was only when Christ wept and was able to weep, that He understood our dramas.

Dear boys and girls, today’s world needs to weep. The marginalized weep, those left aside weep, the scorned weep … but those of us who lead a life more or less without needs, don’t know how to weep. Certain realities of life are only seen with eyes cleansed by tears.

I invite each one of you to ask himself: ‘Have I learned to weep?’ ‘Have I learned to weep when I see a hungry child, a drugged child on the street, a homeless child, an abandoned child, an abused child, a child used as a slave by society?’ Or is my capricious sobbing that of one who weeps because he would like to have something more? And this is the first thing I would like to say to you. Let us learn to weep as she taught us today.

Let’s not forget this testimony. The great question – Why do children suffer? She asked it, weeping. And the great answer we can all give is to learn to weep. Jesus cries in the Gospel. He wept for his dead friend; he wept in His heart for that family that had lost their daughter; he wept in His heart when He saw that mother, a poor widow, taking her son to be buried; He was moved and wept in His heart when he saw the multitudes like sheep without a shepherd. If you don’t learn how to weep, you’re not a good Christian!

And this is a challenge. Jun Chura and his friend who spoke today have posed this challenge to us. And when we are asked, ‘Why do children suffer?’ ‘Why does this or that happen, this tragic thing in life? May our answer either be silence or a word born of tears. Be courageous; don’t be afraid to cry.

And then Leandro Santos II came. He also asked questions the world of information. Today, with so many media, we are informed – hyper-informed. And is this bad?’ No. It’s good and it helps. However, we run the danger of accumulating information. And we have much information, but perhaps we don’t know what to do with it. We run the risk of becoming ‘museum youth,’ who have everything but don’t know what to do. We don’t need museum youth, but wise young people.

You might ask me, ‘Father, how does one become wise?’ And this is another challenge, the challenge of love. What is the most important subject you must learn at University? What is the most important subject that must be learned in life? To learn to love. And this is the challenge that life poses to you today: to learn to love. Not just to accumulate information, because there comes a time when you don’t know what to do with it – it is a museum but, through love that information must become fruitful.

For this to happen, the Gospel proposes a serene, tranquil path: the use of three languages: the language of the mind, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. And to use the three languages harmoniously: what you think, what you feel and what you do. Your information goes down to your heart, moves it and does it. And it does so harmoniously. To think about what one feels and what one does; to feel what I think and what I do; to do what I think and what I feel – the three languages. Are you able to repeat the three languages? Eh? To think, to feel, to do – in a loud voice!

[All repeat it thrice in English]

And all that harmoniously.

True love is to love and to let oneself be loved. It’s more difficult to let oneself be loved than to love. That’s why it is so difficult to attain the perfect love of God. Because, we can love Him, but the most important thing is to let ourselves by loved by Him. True love is to open oneself to that love which is first, and which causes a surprise.

If one has all the information, one is closed to surprise. Love opens one to surprise. Love is always a surprise, because it implies a dialogue between two: between the one who loves and the one loved. And we say of God that He is the God of surprises, because He always loves us first, and He awaits us with a surprise. God surprises us. We must let ourselves b
e surprised by God. And let us not have the ‘psychology of the computer’ of thinking we know it all – ‘How does this happen?’ Wait a moment. [Francis acts as though consulting the computer] The computer has all the answers – no surprises.

In the challenge of love, God manifests Himself with surprises. Let us think of Saint Matthew. He was a good businessman; moreover, he betrayed his homeland, because he taxed the Jews to pay the Romans. He was full of money and collected taxes. Jesus passed by, saw him and said: ‘Come, follow me.’ He couldn’t believe it. Afterwards, if you have time, go look at the picture Caravaggio painted of this scene. Jesus called him, made a sign to him, and those who were with Him said: This one, who is a traitor, a scoundrel?’ And he grabs the money and doesn’t want to part with it, but the surprise of being loved overcomes him. And he follows Jesus.

That morning, when Mathew went to work and said goodbye to his wife, he never thought he’d return without the money and anxious to tell his wife to prepare a banquet – a banquet for the one who loved him first, who surprised him with something very important, more important than all the money he had.

Allow yourselves to be surprised by God; don’t be afraid of surprise. Do they move your , eh? They make us insecure, but they put us on the way. True love leads you to life, even at the risk of remaining with empty hands.

Let us think of Saint Francis. He left everything. He died with empty hands, but with a full heart. Agreed? Not museum youths, but wise young people. And to be wise, use the three languages: think well, feel well, and do well. And to be wise, let yourselves be surprised by the love of God. And go and your life. Thank you for your contribution today.

And Rikki was the one who came with a good plan to help us see how we can go through life. He told us about all his activities, everything that he does, all that young people do, all that they can do … Thank you Rikki, thank you for what you and your friends do. But, I’m going to ask you a question. You and your friends are going to give. You give, give, help … But do you let others give to you? Answer in your heart.

In the Gospel we just heard, there is a phrase that for me is the most important of all. The Gospel says that Jesus looked at that young man, and loved him. And when one sees the group of Rilkki’s friends, Rikki, one loves them very much, because they do very good things. However, the most important phrase that Jesus says is: ‘Only one thing is lacking.’ Let each one of us hear this word of Jesus in silence. ‘You lack only one thing.’ What do I lack? For all those that Jesus loves so much because they give so much to others, I ask: Do you let others give you of that richness you don’t have?

The Sadducees, the Doctors of the Law of Jesus’ time gave much to the people, they gave them the law, they taught them … but they never let the people give them anything. Jesus had to come to let Himself be moved by the people. How many young people – I don’t say it of you –, but how many like you who are here, are able to give but have yet to learn to receive! You lack only one thing: become a beggar, become a beggar. This is what we are lacking: to learn to beg from those to whom we give. This isn’t easy to understand. To learn to beg.

To learn to receive from the humility of those who help us.; to learn to be evangelized by the poor. The people we help – the poor, the sick, orphans – have much to give us. Do I make myself a beggar and ask for that also? Or am I sufficient and am only going to give? You who live giving always, and think you don’t need anything, do you know you are a poor fellow? Do you know that you have much poverty and that you need them to give to you? Do you let yourself be evangelized by the poor, by the sick, by those whom you help?

And this is what helps all those mature who are committed, like Rikki, in the work of giving to others. To learn to stretch out one’s hand from one’s own poverty.

There were some points I had prepared … First, which I already said, is to learn to love and to learn to let oneself be loved. In addition, there is a challenge, which is the challenge of integrity.”

At this point, the Holy Father said in English:

“And this not only because your country is probably more affected than others by climate change.

There is the challenge that concerns the environment. And, finally, the challenge of the poor.”

And the Pontiff concluded in Spanish:

“Love the poor. Your Bishops want you to look at the poor in a special way this year. Do you think of the poor? Do you feel with the poor? Do you do something for the poor? And do you ask the poor to give you the wisdom they have? This is what I would like to say to you today. Forgive me because I didn’t read almost anything of what I’d prepared, but there is a phrase that consoles me a little: ‘The reality is superior to the idea.’ And the reality posed, your reality, is superior to all the ideas that I had prepared. Thank you, thank you very much and pray for me.”

[Transcription from audio made by ZENIT; translation by ZENIT]
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