WYD Lisbon 2023 (day 4): 4 reflections from the Pope for young people on joy, roots, tiredness, and the journey

Pope’s words to young people at World Youth Day vigil.

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(ZENIT News / Lisbon, 08.05.2023).- Before one and a half million people, including the President of Portugal, Pope Francis presided over the first half of the Vigil prior to the sending-off Mass that concludes World Youth Day 2023. The Pope spoke without using the prepared speech.


Dear brothers and sisters: Good evening!

How joyful it makes me to see all of you. Thank you for traveling, for walking, and for being here! I think that even the Virgin Mary had to travel to see Elizabeth: «She set out and went with haste» (Lk 1:39), says the Gospel of this WYD. One might wonder: why did Mary get up and hurry to see her cousin? Of course, she had just found out that Elizabeth was pregnant, but she herself was also pregnant. So why did she go when nobody asked her to? Mary performs an unrequested and non-obligatory gesture; she goes because she loves, and «one who loves, flies, runs, and rejoices» (The Imitation of Christ, III, 5).

Mary’s joy is twofold. She had just received the announcement from the angel that she would bear the Redeemer, and she also learned that her cousin was pregnant.

[1st Joy is missionary]

It’s curious: instead of thinking about herself, she thinks about the other. Why? Because joy is missionary. Joy is not for oneself. It’s meant to be shared. Let me ask you all: you, who are here, who have come to meet, to seek Christ’s message, to find a beautiful meaning in life. Are you going to keep this for yourselves, or will you bring it to others? What do you think? I can’t hear you!

«It’s to bring it to others!» Because joy is missionary!

Let’s all say it together: «Joy is missionary.» So I have to bring that joy to others.

But the joy we have, others also prepared us to receive it. Now everything we have received takes me back. What we have received has prepared our hearts for joy.

[2nd Joy that creates roots and the roots of our joy]

All of us, if we look back, have people who were a ray of light in our lives: parents, grandparents, friends, priests, religious, catechists, leaders, teachers; they are like the roots of our joy.

Now, let’s take a moment of silence, and each one thinks about those who gave us something in life, those who are like the roots of joy.

Did they find? Did they find faces, did they find stories? That joy that came through those roots is the one we have to give. Because we have roots of joy, and we can also be roots of joy for others. It’s not about carrying a fleeting joy, a momentary joy. It’s about carrying a joy that creates roots.

[3rd How to be roots of joy: a reflection on tiredness]

And I wonder: how can we become roots of joy? Joy is not locked away in a library, even though we need to study. It’s somewhere else. It’s not kept under lock and key. Joy must be sought, discovered in our dialogue with others, where we have to give those roots of joy that we have received. And that, sometimes, gets tiring.

Let me ask you a question: have you ever felt tired? Yes? Have you ever felt tired? Think about what happens when you’re tired. You don’t feel like doing anything. As we say in Spanish, «one throws in the towel,» because you don’t feel like continuing, and then you give up, stop walking, and fall. Do you think a person who falls in life, who experiences failure, even heavy and serious mistakes, is already finished? No.

What should they do? – I can’t hear you! – Get up! And there’s something beautiful that I would like you to take as a memory today: mountain climbers who enjoy climbing mountains have a lovely little saying that goes like this: «In the art of ascending the mountain, what matters is not not falling but not staying down.» Beautiful thing!

One who stays down has retired from life. Closed off. Closed off hope. Closed off dreams, and there they remain fallen. When we see some of our friends who are down, what should we do? Lift them up! Lift them up!

Look: when you have to lift or help lift a person, what gesture do you make? You look at them from top to bottom. The only opportunity, the only moment when it’s legitimate to look at a person from top to bottom is to help them get up.

How many times do we see people looking at us from above the shoulder, from top to bottom? It’s sad. The only way it’s legitimate, the only situation when it’s legitimate to look at a person from top to bottom is to help them get up.

[4th Joy: a journey and training to walk and not remain fallen]

This is a bit of the journey. The perseverance in walking. And in life, to achieve things, you have to train on the path. Sometimes, we don’t feel like walking, we don’t feel like making an effort, we cheat on exams because we don’t want to study, and then we don’t reach success. I don’t know if some of you like football. I do. What’s behind a goal? A lot of training! What’s behind success? A lot of training. And in life, you can’t always do what you want but what the occasion inside you, everyone has their vocation, leads you to do.

Walk. If I fall, get up or let others help me get up. Not stay fallen and train myself, train myself on the journey.

All this is possible not because we take courses on the journey. There’s no course to teach us how to walk in life. That’s learned: learned from parents, from grandparents, learned from friends, by holding each other’s hand. In life, you learn, and that’s training on the journey.

I leave you with this idea only: walk, and if you fall, get up. Walk with a goal. Train every day in life… In life, nothing is free. Everything has a cost. There’s only one thing that’s free: the love of Jesus.

With this free thing we have, the love of Jesus, and with the desire to walk, let’s walk in hope. Let’s look at our roots and move forward: without fear, without fear, don’t be afraid. Thank you. Goodbye.

Translation based on the transcription of the words made by the editorial director of ZENIT.

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