Before leaving Brazil, Pope Francis meet with an estimated 15,000 volunteers at the Congress Center Pavilion in Rio de Janeiro. The group was only a sliver of the 60,000 volunteers who worked in the past two years preparing for World Youth Day. The Holy Father expressed his gratitude for their work.
The Pope also thanked them for “the countless little ways by which you have made this World Youth Day an unforgettable experience of faith. With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you have shown that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’”.
Comparing them to St. John the Baptist, “who prepared the way for Jesus”, the Pope told the volunteers that as missionary disciples, preparing the way for others to meet the Lord is “the most beautiful service we give.”
“May you always be generous with God and with others: one loses nothing thereby, but gains great enrichment in life,” he said.
“God, the Pope continued, “has a plan for each of you: to discover that plan and to respond to your vocation is to move toward personal fulfilment. Some are called to holiness through family life in the sacrament of Marriage.”
The Holy Father commented that in today’s cultural of the ephemeral, many say that marriage is out of fashion. “Many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment”, he said; “they say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, for ever, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring”. He urged the young volunteers “to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. Have the courage to be happy”.
The Pope went on to say that the Lord calls some to the priesthood or to the religious life, and shared with the young volunteers his experience at the age of 17 of first hearing God’s call. “Do not be afraid of what God asks of you! It is worth saying ‘yes’ to God. In Him we find joy!”
Finally, he addressed those who “may not yet know what you will do with your lives”, and encouraged them to “ask the Lord, and He will show you the way. Do not forget what you have experienced here! You can always count on my prayers, and I know I can count on yours”.