APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS FRANCIS
IN MOZAMBIQUE, MADAGASCAR AND MAURIZIO
(4 - 10 September 2019)
VIGIL WITH YOUNG PEOPLE
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER
Diocesan Field of Soamandrakizay (Antananarivo)
Saturday, 7 September 2019
I thank you, Monsignor, for your words of welcome. Thank you, dear young people who have come from every part of this beautiful island, despite the efforts and difficulties that this entails for many of you. However, you are here! It gives me great joy to be able to live with you this vigil to which the Lord Jesus invites us. Thank you for the traditional songs and dances you performed with great enthusiasm - those who told me you have extraordinary joy and enthusiasm were not wrong!
Thank you, Rova Sitraka and Vavy Elyssa, for sharing your quest for aspirations and challenges with us all. How nice it is to meet two young people with a living faith, on the move! Jesus leaves our hearts always in search, puts us on the road and on the move. The disciple of Jesus, if he wants to grow in his friendship, must not remain still, to complain and look at himself. He must move, act, commit himself, sure that the Lord supports him and accompanies him.
This is why I like to see every young person as one who seeks. Do you remember the first question that Jesus asks the disciples on the bank of the Jordan? The first question was: "What are you looking for?" (Jn 1:38). The Lord knows that we are looking for that "happiness for which we were created" and "that the world will not be able to take away from us" (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 1; 177). Everyone expresses it in different ways, but in the end you are always looking for that happiness that no one can take away from you.
As you told us, Rova. In your heart, you had long wanted to visit prisoners. You started helping a priest in his mission and, little by little, you worked harder and harder until this became your personal mission. You have discovered that your life was missionary. This search for faith helps to make the world we live in better, more evangelical. And what you did for others transformed you, changed the way you see and judge people. It made you more just and more human. You have understood and discovered how the Lord has engaged with you, giving you a happiness that the world will not be able to take away from you (see ibid., 177).
Rova, in your mission, you have learned to give up adjectives and call people by their name, as the Lord does with us. He does not call us with our sin, our mistakes, our mistakes, our limitations, but he does it with our name; each of us is precious in his eyes. The devil, on the other hand, although knowing our names, prefers to call us and continually call us back with our sins and our mistakes; and in this way it makes us feel that, whatever we do, nothing can change, everything will remain the same. The Lord does not act this way. The Lord always reminds us of how precious we are in his eyes, and entrusts us with a mission.
Rova, you have learned to know not only the qualities, but also the stories that are hidden behind every face. You have put aside the quick and easy criticism, which always paralyzes, to learn something that so many people can take years to discover. You realized that, in many people who are in prison, there was no evil, but bad choices. They have gone the wrong way, and they know it, but now they want to start over.
This reminds us of one of the most beautiful gifts that friendship with Jesus can offer us. «He is in you, He is with you and never goes away. As far as you can get away, next to you is the Risen One, who calls you and waits for you to start over "(Esort. Ap. Postsin. Christus vivit, 2) and to entrust you with a mission. It is the gift that he invites all of us to discover and celebrate today.
We all know, even from personal experience, that we can get lost and run after illusions that make us promises and enchant us with a flashy joy, a quick, easy and immediate joy, but that eventually leave the heart, the look and soul halfway. Watch out for those who promise you easy roads and then leave you halfway! Those illusions that, when we are young, seduce us with promises that numb us, take away our vitality, our joy, make us dependent and close us in a seemingly dead-endless circle.
A bitterness, I don't know if it is true ... but there is a risk for you to think: "It is so ... nothing can change and nobody can do anything about it". Especially when you don't have the minimum necessary to fight day by day; when the actual opportunities to study are not enough; or for those who realize that their future is blocked due to lack of work, precariousness, social injustices ..., and are therefore tempted to surrender. Be careful in front of this bitterness! Be careful!
The Lord is the first to say: no, this is not the way. He is alive and wants you to be alive too, sharing all your gifts and charisms, your research and your skills (see ibid., 1). The Lord calls us by name and tells us: "Follow me!" Not to make us run after illusions, but to transform each of us into missionary disciples here and now. He is the first to refute all the voices that try to fall asleep, to tame you, to anesthetize you or to keep quiet because you are not looking for new horizons. With Jesus, there are always new horizons. It wants to transform us all and make our life a mission. But he asks us one thing: he asks us not to be afraid of getting our hands dirty, not being afraid of getting our hands dirty.
Through you, the future enters Madagascar and the Church. The Lord is the first to trust you and also invites you to trust yourself, to trust your skills and abilities, which are many. He invites you to be courageous, united to Him to write the most beautiful page of your life, to overcome apathy and offer, like Rova, a Christian response to the many problems you face. It is the Lord who invites you to be the builders of the future (see ibid., 174). You will be the builders of the future! Invites you to bring the contribution that only you can give, with the joy and freshness of your faith. To each of you - to you, to you, to you, to you ... - I ask, and I ask you to ask yourself: can the Lord count on you? Can your Malagasy people rely on you? Can your homeland, Madagascar, count on you?
But the Lord does not want solitary adventurers. He entrusts us with a mission, yes, but he does not send us alone to the forefront.
As Vavy Elyssa said well, it is impossible to be a missionary disciple alone: we need others to live and share the love and trust that the Lord gives us. The personal encounter with Jesus is irreplaceable, not in a solitary way but in community. Surely, each of us can do great things, yes; but together we can dream and commit ourselves to unimaginable things! Vavy said it clearly. We are invited to discover the face of Jesus in the faces of others: celebrating the faith in a familiar way, creating bonds of fraternity, participating in the life of a group or a movement and encouraging us to draw a common path lived in solidarity. Thus we can learn to discover and discern the paths that the Lord invites you to follow, the horizons that He prepares for you. Never isolate yourself or want to do it yourself! It's one of the worst temptations we can have.
In community, that is, together, we can learn to recognize the small daily miracles, as well as the testimonies of how beautiful it is to follow and love Jesus. And this often indirectly, as in the case of your parents, Vavy, who, although belonging to two different tribes, each with its own customs and customs, thanks to their mutual love have been able to overcome all the trials and differences, and show you a beautiful way to walk. A path that is confirmed every time they give you the fruits of the earth to be offered to the altar. How much these testimonies are needed! Or like your aunt and the catechists and the priests who have accompanied and supported them in the process of faith. Everything has helped to generate and encourage your "yes". We are all important, everyone, we are all necessary and no one can say: "I don't need you". No one can say: "I do not need you", or "you are not part of this project of love that the Father dreamed of creating us".
Now I launch you a challenge: I would like all of us to say: nobody can say: "I don't need you". Three times ... [they repeat it three times] You were good!
We are a great family - I am about to end, calmly, because it is cold ... [they laugh] - and we can discover, dear young people, that we have a Mother: the patroness of Madagascar, the Virgin Mary. I have always been struck by the strength of Mary's "yes" when she was young - she was young like you. The strength of that "happens to me according to your word" that she tells the angel. It was not a "yes" just to say, "well, let's see what happens". No. Maria did not know the expression: "Let's see what happens". You said "yes", without words. It is the "yes" of those who want to commit themselves and who are willing to take risks, who want to bet everything, without any other security than the certainty of knowing that they are bearers of a promise. That girl of Nazareth today is the Mother who watches over her children who walk in life often tired, needy, but who desire that the light of hope does not go out. This is what we want for Madagascar, for each of you and for your friends: let the light of hope not go out. Our Mother looks at this people of young people whom she loves, who also seek her by making silence in their hearts although there is much noise, conversations and distractions along the way; and they beg her that hope may not be extinguished (see Christus vivit, 44-48).
To her I want to entrust the lives of each and every one of you, your families and your friends, so that you never miss the light of hope and Madagascar may be ever more the land that the Lord has dreamed of. May she accompany you and always protect you.
And please don't forget to pray for me.