The Holy See today published Pope Francis’ message for the 29th World Youth Day (WYD), which will take place on Palm Sunday, April 13. The theme for this year’s event is based on an excerpt from the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
World Youth Day, which was initiated by Blessed John Paul II in 1984, is celebrated annually on a diocesan level and internationally every two to three years. Pope Francis attended the international WYD last year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in his first international apostolic journey as Pontiff. The final Mass of the event was attended by over 3.5 million youth from around the world.
“How vividly I recall the remarkable meeting we had in Rio de Janeiro for the Twenty-eighth World Youth Day,” the Pope’s message stated. “It was a great celebration of faith and fellowship! The wonderful people of Brazil welcomed us with open arms, like the statue of Christ the Redeemer which looks down from the hill of Corcovado over the magnificent expanse of Copacabana beach. There, on the seashore, Jesus renewed his call to each one of us to become his missionary disciples.”
The Holy Father began his message by reflecting on the Beatitudes, which he said were “new and revolutionary” in presenting “a model of happiness contrary to what is usually communicated by the media and by the prevailing wisdom.”
“A worldly way of thinking finds it scandalous that God became one of us and died on a cross! According to the logic of this world, those whom Jesus proclaimed blessed are regarded as useless, ‘losers.’ What is glorified is success at any cost, affluence, the arrogance of power and self-affirmation at the expense of others,” he wrote.
The Pope went on to call on the youth of the world to resist the enticements that present a false illusion of happiness. In doing so, one risks settling for less and “thinking small,” he said.
“Think big instead! Open your hearts!” the Pope wrote.
John Paul II
In a communique released by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Holy Father’s message is presented as an invitation to young people to imitate Jesus in their own lives, like Saint Francis of Assisi.
“Young Christians are therefore called to conversion, to embrace an evangelical lifestyle, one of moderation in which we seek the essential and act in solidarity with the poor,” the communique stated. “The Pope explains that the poor are both the ‘suffering flesh’ of Christ that we are all called to personally touch, and they are also true masters of life, often with much to offer on the human and spiritual plane.”
Concluding his message, Pope Francis reminded the youth that this year will mark 30 years since Pope John Paul II entrusted the World Youth Day cross to the youth. The upcoming canonization of the late Pontiff, he said, will be an event marked by great joy.
“He will be the great patron of the World Youth Days which he inaugurated and always supported,” the Pope wrote. “In the communion of saints he will continue to be a father and friend to all of you.”
World Youth Day 2016 will be held in Krakow, Poland, where Blessed John Paul II served as Cardinal prior to his election to the papacy. (J.A.E.)