(ZENIT News / Lisbon, 06.08.2023).-Here is the homily Pope Francis gave to a million and a half people during the closing Mass of the World Youth Day in Lisbon.
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“Lord, it is well that we are here!” (Matthew 17:4). The Apostle Peter said these words to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, and, after these intense days, we also want to make them our own. What we are experiencing with Jesus is beautiful, what we have lived together; and beautiful is the way we have prayed, with so much heartfelt joy. And then we can ask ourselves: what are we carrying away with us as we return to daily life?
I would like to answer this question with three verbs, following the Gospel we have heard. What are we carrying away with us? To shine, to listen and not be afraid. What are we carrying away with us? I respond with these three words: to shine, to listen and not be afraid
[1st To Shine]
First, to shine. Jesus is transfigured, the Gospel says His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). A short time ago He announced His Passion and Death on the cross, and with this He was breaking the image of a powerful, worldly Messiah, and He frustrates the expectations of the disciples. Now, to help them accept God’s plan of love for each one of us, Jesus takes three of them — Peter, James and John –, He leads them to a Mount and is transfigured. And this “bath of light” prepares them for the night of the Passion.
Friends, dear young people, today also, we need some light, a gleam of light that is hope to face so much darkness that assaults us in life, so many daily defeats in order to face them with the light of Jesus’ Resurrection, because He is the Light that is not extinguished, He is the Light that shines even in the night. “Our God has illumined our eyes” (Esdras 9:8), says the priest Esdras. Our God illumines, He illumines our gaze, he illumines our heart, He illumines our mind, He illumines our desire to do something in life always with the Light of the Lord.
However, I would like to say to you that we do not become luminous when we put ourselves under the spotlights, no, that blinds us. We do not become luminous when we show a perfect image, well put together, well finished; no, no, even if we feel strong and successful. Strong and successful, but not luminous. We become luminous, we shine when, welcoming Jesus, we learn to love as He does. To love as Jesus does, that makes us luminous, that leads us to do works of love. Do not deceive yourself, friend, you will be light the day you carry out works of love. However, when, instead of doing works of love outside of yourself, and you look at yourself, as an egoist, then the light goes out.
[2nd To Listen]
The second verb is to listen. On the Mount, a luminous cloud covered the disciples, and in that cloud from which the Father speaks, what does He say? “Listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5). This is my beloved Son, listen to Him. It’s all here, and all that has to be done in life is in this phrase: “Listen to Him.” To listen to Jesus, the whole secret is there. You listen to what Jesus says to you. “I don’t know what He says to me.” Take hold of the Gospel and read what Jesus says and what He says to your heart, because He has words of eternal life for us; He reveals that God is Father, is Love. He teaches us the way of love, listen to Jesus, because with good will we tend to undertake paths that seem to be of love, but in fact are egoisms disguised as love. Beware of egoisms disguised as love. Listen to Him, because He will tell you which is the path of love. Listen to Him.
[3rd Not To Be Afraid]
To shine, the first word, be luminous, listen so as not to mistake the path and, at the end, the third word, not to be afraid. “Do not be afraid,” a word that is repeated so much in the Bible, in the Gospels, “do not be afraid.” These were the last words that in this moment of the Transfiguration Jesus said to the disciples: “Do not be afraid.
To you, young people, who have lived this joy, I was about to say this glory — well, it is something of glory –, these meetings with us; to you who cultivate great dreams but which sometimes are obfuscated by the fear of not seeing them realized; to you, who sometimes think you are not able, a bit of pessimism enters us sometimes, to you, young people, tempted in this time of discouragement, judging yourselves perhaps as failures or trying to hide the pain by disguising it with a smile; to you, young people, who want to change the world —and it’s good that you want to change the world — and who want to fight for justice and peace; to you, young people, who want to give desire and creativity to life, but who think it isn’t sufficient; to you, young people, who the Church and the world need [as] the earth needs rain; to you young people, who are the present and the future; yes, precisely to you, young people, [Jesus] says to you today: “Do not be afraid.”
In a little silence, each one repeat to him/herself in his/her heart, these words: Do not be afraid.
Dear young people, I would like to look at each one of you in your eyes and say to you: do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. More than that, I say something very beautiful to you, it’s no longer I, it’s Jesus Himself who is looking at you in this moment. He is looking at us. He knows you, He knows each one’s heart, He knows each one’s life, He knows the joys, He knows the sadness, the successes and failures, He knows your heart. He reads your hearts and He says to you today, here in Lisbon, in this World Youth Day: “Do not be afraid.” Courage, “do not be afraid.”
(Translation of the Spanish original by Virginia M. Forrester)