‘Jesus asks us, as He always does, to lift our eyes to a horizon that can renew our life and our history.’
Pope Francis’ stressed this at the Penitential Liturgy with young detainees in the Centro de Cumplimiento de Menores Las Garzas de Pacora in Panama, during the second full day of his Apostolic Visit to the country to celebrate World Youth Day. Francis’ first visit ever to the Central American county for the occasion of the XXXIV World Youth Day marks the Pontiff’s 26th international trip and his 40th country visited.
In his address, he pointed out that when we hear in our minds: “you can’t do it, you can’t do it,” we should not let it dominate our thinking.
The whisper that haunts those who repent of their sin and acknowledge their mistakes, but don’t think that they can change. It makes them think that those who are born publicans will always die publicans; and that is not true.
“Friends, each of us is much more than our labels,” Francis said, noting that is what Jesus teaches us and asks us to believe.
“His approach,” he explained, “challenges us to ask and seek help when setting out on the path of improvement. There are times when complaining seems to have the upper hand, but don’t believe it, don’t listen to it.”
“Seek out and listen to the voices that encourage you to look ahead, not those that pull you down.”
Every Christian’s Hope and Joy
“The joy and hope of every Christian – of all of us, and the Pope too – comes from having experienced this approach of God, who looks at us and says, “You are part of my family and I cannot leave you out in the cold; I cannot lose you along the way; I am here at your side,'” he reminded.
The Lord wants to celebrate, the Pope said, when He sees His children returning, adding that Jesus testified to this, by showing to the very end the merciful love of the Father.
This love, he explained, “has no time for complaining, but seeks to break the circle of useless, needless, cold and detached criticism, and faces head-on the complexity of life and of every situation.”
It is a love “that initiates a process capable of providing ways and means for integration and transformation, healing and forgiveness: a path of salvation.”
By eating with tax collectors and sinners, the Jesuit Pope reminded, Jesus shatters the mentality that separates, excludes, isolates and falsely separates “the good and the bad”.
“He does not do this by decree, or simply with good intentions, or with slogans or sentimentality. He does it by creating relationships capable of enabling new processes; investing in and celebrating every possible step forward,” he said.
Francis reminded them it is not all over, “because you have a bigger purpose that lets you see that God our Father is always with us. He gives us people with whom we can walk, people to help us achieve new goals.”
Rejoice with me
Jesus, the Holy Father reminded, turns complaining into celebration, and tells us: “Rejoice with me!”
“Brothers and sisters: You are part of the family; you have a lot to share with others. Help us to discern how best to live and to accompany one another along the path of change that we, as a family, all need.”
Pope Francis concluded, praying: ‘May the Lord bless, sustain and accompany you.”
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