By Junno Arocho
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Pope Benedict XVI called on the youth of the world to participate in next year’s 28th World Youth Day which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The theme for the international event is “Go and make disciples of all nations!” (cf. Mt. 28, 19).
The Holy Father began his letter inviting the youth to look upon the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil as a “symbol for us.”
“Christ’s open arms are a sign of his willingness to embrace all those who come to him, and his heart represents his immense love for everyone and for each of you. Let yourselves be drawn to Christ! Experience this encounter along with all the other young people who will converge on Rio for the next World Youth Day! Accept Christ’s love and you will be the witnesses so needed by our world,” the Pope’s message stated.
Recalling the theme of next year’s World Youth Day, Pope Benedict stated that Christ’s call to go make disciples remains today as urgent as ever. The Supreme Pontiff expressed his happiness that the youth of the world are involved “in this missionary outreach.”
A Call to Witness
Pope Benedict emphasized the contributions of the evangelization made by youth in the history of the Church. One such example, the Holy Father continued, was the life of Blessed José de Anchieta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who went to Brazil in the 16thcentury before he was twenty years old. The Pope added that among the youth in today’s world, there are those who are devoted to the mission of the Church, as evidenced by the previous World Youth Day held in Madrid.
“I saw a wonderful testimony of this at World Youth Day in Madrid, particularly at the meeting with volunteers,” the Holy Father recalled.
“Many young people today seriously question whether life is something good, and have a hard time finding their way. More generally, however, young people look at the difficulties of our world and ask themselves: is there anything I can do? The light of faith illumines this darkness. It helps us to understand that every human life is priceless because each of us is the fruit of God’s love.”
The 85 year old Pontiff said that while advances in technology have allowed for “unprecedented possibilities” to interact with people, it can only nourish if it is “founded on love rather than materialism.”
Love, the Pope stated in his message, “is the only thing that can fill hearts and bring people together. God is love. When we forget God, we lose hope and become unable to love others. That is why it is so necessary to testify to God’s presence so that others can experience it. The salvation of humanity depends on this, as well as the salvation of each of us.”
The Holy Father concluded his message, calling on the youth of the world to take the call to evangelize in their hearts and to bear witness to the love of Christ. “Be a new generation of missionaries, impelled by love and openness to all! Follow the example of the Church’s great missionaries like Saint Francis Xavier and so many others,” Pope Benedict said.
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For the full text of Pope Benedict’s Message to Young People, go to: