Pope Francis today encouraged youth to allow themselves to be conquered by the loving gaze of Christ and thus accept his promise of joy, rejecting the “dazzle” of what the world promises to offer.
The Pope made this invitation during his address before praying today’s midday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. He reflected on the “three gazes” of Christ found in today’s Gospel reading from Mark.
The first gaze is directed at the rich young man who, though keeping all of the commandments, goes away sad when he is invited to follow Jesus.
“[T]his youth has a heart divided between two lords: God and money, and he goes away sad. This shows us that faith and attachment to riches cannot coexist,” the Pope said.
The second account of Jesus’ gaze refers to his looking upon the disciples and warning, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
“Faced with the amazement of his disciples, who ask, ‘Then who can be saved?’ (v. 26), Jesus responds with a gaze of encouragement — this is the third gaze — and says, salvation, yes, ‘For human beings it is impossible, but not for God’ (v. 27),” the Holy Father explained.
Salvation is possible when we entrust ourselves to God, the Pope continued. “He will give us the strength; he will give us salvation; he will accompany us along the journey.”
Pope Francis also noted that in addition to his promise of eternal life, Jesus says that his followers will be given “a hundred times more” in this life.
“We deprive ourselves of goods and receive in exchange the joy of the true good; we free ourselves from slavery to things and we win the liberty of service out of love; we renounce possessing and we attain the happiness of giving,” Francis affirmed. “[…] Only in welcoming with humble gratitude the Lord’s love do we free ourselves from the seduction of idols and the blindness of our illusions. Money, pleasure and success dazzle, but later they disappoint: They promise life but cause death. The Lord asks of us a detachment from these false riches to enter into true life, a full life, that is authentic and luminous.”
The Pope turned his reflection into a concrete question for youth who were in St. Peter’s Square: “And I ask you, youth, boys and girls, who are here in the Plaza, have you perceived Jesus’ gaze upon you? How do you want to respond to him? Do you prefer to leave this Plaza with the joy Jesus gives or with the sadness in the heart that worldliness offers us?”
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