Along the 4 kilometers of the Atlantico that lead to the stage he kisses babies, gets out of the jeep at least 3 times to greet a sick person, he receives the usual “unauthorized” white zucchetto, he receives a sombrero, he grabs flags that at first he gives back and then drapes on his vehicle that becomes colored with the enthusiasm of every nation, even if Pope Francis is an Argentine and is also seen kissing his country’s flag as it blows in the wind.
The faith of the young people was stronger than the rain during these days and their love for the Pope already made them forget the long wait on the beach to find a spot before the start of World Youth Day.
Together with the Mass, which contained perhaps the most complete message of the event, this is a beautiful, suggestive and very powerful moment.
Artists and witnesses filled that space of time before the Pope’s arrival and the day was made complete with his presence.
Marcelo Rossi, Fabio De Melo, Alcione are only some of the names of those who evangelized with song. Tony Melendez made the biggest impression, playing the guitar with his feet and praising the Lord with a joy that was contagious.
Among those witnessing to their faith were a former drug addict and pusher, who had run away from home and was conquered by the crucified when he met a young Christian woman; a young native priest who is a missionary among the Indians of Mato Grosso; and a 21 year old man, devoted to Bl. Elena Guerra, who was injured a robbery and has now made his wheelchair his glorious cross!
“Let’s ask the Pope to consecrate humanity to the Holy Spirit and to Our Lady of Fatima,” he proposed, and added: “For me, to live is Christ!”
Pope Francis ascended the stage and spoke of the inspiration of St. Francis and a group of young people dressed as Franciscans intoned the saint of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures while another small group of young people built a little church.
It was not for nothing that Pope Francis then said: “Dear young people, looking at you, the story of St. Francis comes to mind. Before the crucifix he heard ‘Go and rebuild my church.’ He responded with alacrity and generosity, but he soon understood that he was not supposed to be a brick layer but place his life at the service of the Church.”
The fact that they were not able to hold the vigil and the Mass at the Campus Fidei because of the rain revealed that the “field of faith” is the young people themselves, the Pope said. They are the living stones of the Church and the Lord is counting on them.
In this regard, employing his customary Ignatian schema, Pope Francis offered 3 images:
– the field as a place for planting
– work in the field as training
– the field as something to make
The framework was the parable of the sower and the question posed to the young people about what type of soil they are and whether the seed can grow and bear fruit.
Condemning pessimism and discouragement, Pope Francis continued, saying that in the heart of the young person there is at least a little bit of good and fertile soil.
But woe to half-Christians and superficial Christians.
“Be authentic!” he told the young people amidst clamorous applause.
With a felicitous rhetorical device – besides the reference to Christ promising more than a World Cup – Pope Francis touched on a sensitive point for young Brazilians.
There is no success in human experience without training, without commitment and sacrifice, the Pope observed, saying that they needed to get their shirts sweaty.
Spiritual training means praying and dialoguing with Jesus both when everything is going well and when nothing is going well.
Between the loud applauses the Pope asked the youth to always move forward. “Adelante!”
It is necessary to build a large space in your heart so that you do not find yourself in a tiny shack for a church.
Speaking about how to change the things that do not work in the world, Pope Francis quoted Mother Teresa, who, when asked about this by a reporter, answered: “Let’s start with me and you…”