IN LITHUANIA, LATVIA AND ESTONIA
[SEPTEMBER 22-25, 2018]
ECUMENICAL MEETING WITH YOUTH
ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCOIS
Kaarli Lutheran Church (Estonia)
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Dear young people,
Thank you for your warm welcome, for your songs and the testimonies of Lisbel, Tauri and Mirko. I am grateful for the kind and fraternal words of the Bishop of the Estonian Lutheran Church, Urmas Viilma, as well as for the presence of the President of the Council of Churches of Estonia, Archbishop Andres Poder, that of the bishop, Monsignor Philippe Jourdan, apostolic administrator in Estonia, and other representatives of the various Christian confessions present in the country. I also thank for the presence of the President of the Republic.
It is always nice to meet, to share life stories, to express what we think and want; and it is very beautiful to be together again, we who believe in Jesus Christ. These meetings fulfill the dream of Jesus in the Last Supper: "Let all be one, ... that the world may believe" (Jn 17:21). If we strive to think of ourselves as pilgrims who journey together, we will learn to open our hearts with confidence to the companion of the road, without suspicion, without suspicion, looking only at what we really seek: peace in front of the face of the only God. And since peace is an art, having confidence in others is also something of a art, it is a source of happiness: "Happy are the peacemakers" (Mt 5, 9). And this road, this way, we do not go through it only with believers, but with all. All have something to say to us. To all, we have something to say.
The large fresco in the apse of this church contains a phrase from the Gospel according to St. Matthew: "Come to me all who toil under the weight of the burden and I will give you rest" (Mt 11, 28 ). You young Christians can identify yourself with certain elements of this verse of the Gospel.
In previous stories, Matthew tells us that Jesus accumulates frustrations. First, he complains because it seems that nothing is better for those with whom he exchanges (see Mt 11, 16-19). To you young people, it often happens that the adults around you do not know what they want or expect from you; or sometimes, when they see you very happy, they are wary; and if they see you worried, they revitalize what happens to you. In the consultation preceding the Synod that we will be celebrating soon and during which we will reflect on the young, many of you ask that someone accompany you and understand you without judging and that he knows how to listen to you, as well as to answer your questions (cf. Synod dedicated to the Young Instrumentum laboris, 132). Our Christian Churches - and I dare to say every institutionally structured religious process - sometimes persist in attitudes in which it has been easier for us to speak, advise, propose from our experience, rather than listen, rather than to be questioned and illuminated by what you, you live. Very often the Christian communities close, without realizing it, and they do not listen to your concerns. We know what you want and expect: "to be accompanied not by an inflexible judge or by a fearful and hyper-protective parent who maintain dependence, but by someone who is not afraid of his own weakness and He knows how to enhance the treasure which, like a clay vase, he keeps in his bosom (2Co 4, 7) "(ibid: 142). Today, here, I want to tell you that we want to cry with you if you cry, to accompany your joys with our applause and laughter, to help you live after the Lord. You boys and girls, young people, know that when a Christian community is truly Christian it does not proselytize. She only listens, welcomes, accompanies and walks; but it imposes nothing.
Jesus also laments the cities he has visited, performing in them more miracles and reserving for them the greatest gestures of tenderness and closeness; and he deplores their lack of insight to perceive that the change he had come to propose to them was urgent, that he could not wait. He even goes so far as to say that they are more stubborn and blinded than Sodom and Gomorrah (see Mt 11: 10-24). And when we adults close ourselves to an indisputable reality, you frankly say, "You do not see?" And some more daring have the courage to say, "Do not you realize that no one is listening to you anymore, nor believing you? ". We really need to convert ourselves, to discover that to be by your side, we have to reverse so many situations that are, ultimately, those that take you away; we know - as you told us - that many young people do not ask us anything because they do not consider us as a valid interlocutor for their existence. It is terrible when a church, a community, behaves in such a way that young people think: "They will not tell me anything that can serve me for my life". Some even expressly ask that they be left alone because they find the presence of the Church painful and even irritating. And that's true. They are outraged by sexual and economic scandals, in the absence of zero tolerance; the fact of not being able to correctly understand the life and sensitivity of young people because of lack of preparation or simply the passive role attributed to young people within the Christian community (see Synod dedicated to the Young Instrumentum Laboris, 66). These are just some of your requests. We want to respond to them, we want, as you say yourself, to be a "transparent, welcoming, honest, attractive, accessible, joyful community, a community that communicates and everyone can participate" (ibid # 67), that is to say, a community without fear. Fears close us. Fears push us to be proselytes. And fraternity is something else: the open heart and the fraternal embrace.
Before arriving at the evangelical text that dominates this temple, Jesus begins by raising a praise to the Father. He does this because he realizes that those who understand, those who understand the center of his message and his person, are the little ones, those who have a simple and open soul. And seeing you thus, together, and singing, I unite with the voice of Jesus and I remain admiring, because, despite our lack of witness, you continue to discover Jesus in our communities. Because we know that where there is Jesus, there is always renewal, there is always the opportunity for conversion, leaving behind everything that separates us from him and our brothers. Where there is Jesus, life always has the flavor of the Holy Spirit. You, here today, are the actualization of this wonder of Jesus.
So, yes, we say again, "Come to me all who toil under the weight of the burden, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28). But we say it by being convinced that, beyond our limits, our divisions, Jesus continues to be the reason to be here. We know that there is no greater comfort than letting Jesus bear our oppressions. We also know that there are still many who do not know him and live in sadness and misguidance. One of your famous singers, about ten years ago, said in one of her songs: "Love is dead, love has gone away, love does not live here anymore" (Kerli Koiv, L ' love is dead). No Please. Let's make love live, and all we have to do it. And there are many who make this experience: they see that the love of their parents is exhausted, that the love of couples just married dissolves; they experience an intimate pain when they see that it does not matter to anyone that they have to emigrate to look for work or when, there, we look at them with suspicion because they are strangers. It seems that love is dead, as Kerli Koiv said, but we know that it is not so, and we have a word to say, something to announce, with few speeches and many gestures. Because you are the generation of the image, the generation of the action more than the speculation, the theory.
And that pleases Jesus as well; because he has gone on doing good, and when he is dead, he has preferred to words the strong gesture of the cross. We are united by faith in Jesus, and it is He who expects us to share him with all the young people who have lost the meaning of their lives. And the risk is for us believers to lose the meaning of life. And that happens when we, believers, are incoherent. Let us welcome together this newness which God bears in our life; this novelty that drives us to leave again and again to go where the most wounded humanity is; where men, beyond appearances of superficiality and conformism, continue to seek an answer to the question of the meaning of their life. But we will never go alone: God comes with us; he is not afraid, he is not afraid of the peripheries, and even Himself has become a periphery (see Ph 2, 6-8, Jn 1, 14). If we have the courage to go out of ourselves, our selfishness, our closed ideas, and to go to the peripheries, we will find it there, because Jesus precedes us in the life of the brother who suffers and who is rejected. If we have the courage to go out of ourselves, our selfishness, our closed ideas, and to go to the peripheries, we will find it there, because Jesus precedes us in the life of the brother who suffers and who is rejected. He is already there (see Exhort, ap.Gaudete and exsultate, 135).
Boys and girls, love is not dead, it calls us and sends us. He only asks us to open the heart. Let us ask for the apostolic strength to bring the Gospel to others - to offer it, not to impose it - and to renounce making our Christian life a museum of memories. The Christian life is life, it is future, it is hope! She is not a museum. Allow the Holy Spirit to make us contemplate history in the perspective of the risen Jesus, so that the Church, thus our churches, will be able to go forward by welcoming in it the surprises of the Lord (cf. 139), finding again his youth, the joy and the beauty of which Mirko spoke, of the bride who goes to meet the Lord. The surprises of the Lord. The Lord surprises us because life always surprises us. Let's go ahead, to meet these surprises. Thank you !