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I am happy to see you in such great numbers here in Saint Peter’s Square, adorned with your colourful banners. I’ve already also had the joy of seeing you at midday, and in this heat: you are brave! Well done! Thank you very much for giving me the emblems of your pilgrimage! I am a pilgrim with you. You have come from many countries throughout the world, yet all of us are united by our faith in Jesus Christ. We are journeying together with him who is our peace. I thank your President, Bishop Nemet, for his kind greeting on your behalf. He asked me to encourage you, he said: “Ermutigen Sie sie, Heiliger Vater!” I must encourage you. I therefore hand over to you, so that you can ask the questions.
Thank you! You put it very well: peace and Holy Mass go together. Just before the sign of peace, we ask the Lord to grant peace and unity to the Church community. Peace is his gift; it transforms us, so that, as members of Jesus’ body, we can share in his sentiments, think as he thinks – the same sentiments as Jesus, and think as Jesus thinks! – love as he loves. And this brings peace. At the end of Mass, we are sent forth with the words: “Go in peace”, that is: take peace with you in order to give it to others, give it through your life, your smile, your works of charity. Concrete commitment to peace is proof of the fact that we are truly Christ’s disciples. Making peace begins with little things. For example, at home after a quarrel, do I go off by myself – let me ask you – and act hurt, or do I make an effort to go back and reach out? Do I know how to make peace with small gestures? Am I willing to ask myself in every situation: “What would Jesus do in my place?” If we can do this, if we really put it into practice, we will bring Christ’s peace to our everyday lives. Then we will be peacemakers and channels of God’s peace. Thank you.
[The second question is in Portuguese]
In a real way, as altar servers, you share in the experience of Martha and Mary. It would be wonderful if, alongside your service to the liturgy, you could become more involved in the life of your parish and also spend some time in silence in the Lord’s presence: both of these. In this interplay of action and contemplation, we come to realize God’s plan for us. We see the talents and interests God has given us and how best to develop them. Even more importantly, we place ourselves humbly before God, just as we are: as we are, without masks, just as we are, before God, with our good qualities and our limitations, and ask him how we can best serve him and our neighbour. Don’t be afraid to ask for a word of helpful advice when you are wondering how to serve God and all those people throughout the world who need our help. Remember: the more you give yourself to others, the more you will get back in personal fulfilment and true happiness! Thank you.
[The third question is in English]
Even now, as young people, you can be apostles, capable of drawing others to Jesus. This will happen if you are full of enthusiasm for him, for Jesus, if you have encountered him, if you have come to know him personally, and been yourselves “won over” by him. So here is what I would I say. Try to know and love the Lord Jesus more and more – I want to repeat this: try to know and love the Lord more and more, encountering him in prayer, at Mass, in the reading of the Gospel, in the faces of the lowly and the poor. Try also to be friends, with no strings attached, to all those around you, so that a ray of Jesus’ light can shine on them through your own heart in love with him. Dear young people, there is no need for lots of words; more important are your actions, your closeness, your desire to serve, your silent gaze before the Blessed Sacrament. Young people – and everyone else for that matter – need friends who can give a good example, who are ready to act without expecting anything in return. In this way, you will also help others to see how beautiful is the community of believers, because the Lord dwells in its midst. And to see how beautiful it is to be part of the family of the Church. Thank you.
[The fourth question is in German]
Faith is essential; faith gives me life. I would say that faith is like the air we breathe. We don’t think, with every breath we take, how necessary air is, but when it isn’t there, or it isn’t clean, we realize right away how important it is! Faith helps us to grasp the meaning of life: that there is Someone who loves us infinitely and that that Someone is God. He infinitely loves me. We can recognize God as our Creator and our Saviour; we can love God and accept that our life is his gift. God wants to enter into a living relationship with us. He wants to build relationships, and we are called to do the same. A person cannot believe in God and then think that he or she is an only child! The only Child God has is Jesus. An only child, because he is God. But among men, there is no such thing as an only child of God. Reflect on this! All of us are children of God. We are called to make up God’s family, the Church, the community of brothers and sisters in Christ. As Saint Paul says (Eph 2:19), we are “members of the household of God”. And in this family of the Church, the Lord nourishes his sons and daughters with his word and with his sacraments. Thank you.
[The fifth question is in Hungarian]
Yes, it does take effort to keep doing good and to become saints… You know, the path to holiness is not for the lazy: it requires effort. I see that you servers are committed to taking this path. The Lord Jesus gave us a simple plan for advancing in the way of holiness: the commandment of love of God and of neighbour. Let us make an effort to deepen our friendship with God, to be grateful for his love and to want to serve him in all things. In this way, we cannot help but share the gift of his love with others. To make the commandment of love all the more concrete, Jesus gave us the works of mercy. I would like to ask who among you knows the works of mercy. I am sure that your bishops have taught them to you. But you, do you know them well, the works of mercy? If you don’t know them, how can you practice them? This is important: the works of mercy. They are demanding, yet within the reach of all. To practice a work of mercy, it is not necessary to go to university and get a degree. All of us can practice the works of mercy. They are within everyone’s reach. We have only to start asking ourselves: “What can I do today to meet the needs of my neighbour”, of this neighbour: my brothers and sisters, my dad, my mum, my grandparents, my friends, the poor, the sick…; just one of them each day. What can I do to meet the needs of my neighbour? It makes no difference whether it is a friend or a stranger, a countryman or a foreigner: he or she is my neighbour. Believe me, by doing this, you can become real saints, men and woman who transform the world by living the love of Christ. It is true, it is not easy, it requires effort. Yet remember, I repeat it: the path to holiness is not for the lazy.