“I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring the most precious thing given to me: Jesus”
I have learned that, to gain access to the Brazilian people, it is necessary to pass through its great heart; so let me knock gently at this door. I ask permission to come in and spend this week with you. I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring with me the most precious thing given to me: Jesus Christ! ...Christ offers young people space, knowing that there is no force more powerful than the one released from the hearts of young people when they have been conquered by the experience of friendship with Him. Christ has confidence in young people and entrusts them with the very future of His mission, “Go and make disciples.” ... And young people have confidence in Christ: they are not afraid to risk for Him the only life they have, because they know they will not be disappointed.... Here it is common for parents to say, “Our children are the apple of our eyes.” ... What would become of us if we didn’t look after our eyes? How could we move forward? I hope that, during this week, each one of us will ask ourselves this thought-provoking question.... Listen! Young people are the window through which the future enters the world. They are the window, and so they present us with great challenges. Our generation will show that it can rise to the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space.
Welcome Ceremony, Rio de Janeiro, July 22nd
“God always saves the best for us. But He asks us to accept His surprises.”
I too come to knock on the door of the house of Mary–who loved and raised Jesus–that she may help all of us, pastors of God’s people, parents and educators, to pass on to our young people the values that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united, and fraternal. For this reason, I would like to speak of three simple attitudes.
Hopefulness. ...How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual, among our people, in our communities; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them. In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, ...I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; He never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts! The “dragon,” evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope! ...
Openness to being surprised by God. Anyone who is a man or a woman of hope–the great hope which faith gives us–knows that even in the midst of difficulties God acts and He surprises us.... God always surprises us, like the new wine in the Gospel we have just heard. God always saves the best for us. But He asks us to let ourselves be surprised by His love, to accept His surprises. Let us trust God! ...
Living in joy. Christians are joyful, they are never gloomy. God is at our side. We have a Mother who always intercedes for the life of her children, for us.... Jesus has shown us that the face of God is that of a loving Father. Sin and death have been defeated. Christians cannot be pessimists! They do not look like someone in constant mourning. If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much He loves us, our hearts will “light up” with a joy that spreads to everyone around us....
Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Conception of Aparecida, July 24th
“There is a deeper hunger that only God can satisfy”
From the start, my wish in planning this visit to Brazil was to be able to visit every district throughout the nation. I would have liked to knock on every door, to say, “Good morning,” to ask for a glass of cold water, to take a cafezinho–not a glass of grappa!–to speak as one would to family friends, to listen to each person pouring out his or her heart–parents, children, grandparents ... But Brazil is so vast! It is impossible to knock on every door! So I chose to come here, to visit your community, this community, which today stands for every district in Brazil.... From the moment I first set foot on Brazilian soil, right up to this meeting here with you, I have been made to feel welcome. And it is important to be able to make people welcome; this is something even more beautiful than any kind of ornament or decoration. I say this because when we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them–some food, a place in our homes, our time–not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. I am well aware that when someone needing food knocks at your door, you always find a way of sharing food; as the proverb says, one can always “add more water to the beans”! Is it possible to add more water to the beans? ... Always? ... And you do so with love, demonstrating that true riches consist not in material things, but in the heart! ...Dear friends, it is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry–this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy, the hunger for dignity. There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its non-material goods: life, which is a gift of God, a value always to be protected and promoted; the family, the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation; integral education, which cannot be reduced to the mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit; health, which must seek the integral well-being of the person, including the spiritual dimension, essential for human balance and healthy coexistence; security, in the conviction that violence can be overcome only by changing human hearts.
Community of Varginha, Rio de Janeiro, July 25th
“In whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus?”
“Bota fé–put on faith.” What does this mean? When we prepare a plate of food and we see that it needs salt, well, we “put on” salt; when it needs oil, then you “put on” oil. “To put on,” that is, to place on top of, to pour over. And so it is in our life, dear young friends: if we want it to have real meaning and fulfillment, as you want and as you deserve, I say to each one of you, “Put on faith,” and life will take on a new flavor, life will have a compass to show you the way; “put on hope” and every one of your days will be enlightened and your horizon will no longer be dark, but luminous; “put on love,” and your life will be like a house built on rock; your journey will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you. Put on faith, put on hope, put on love! All together: “put on faith,” “put on hope,” “put on love.”
But who can give us all this? In the Gospel we hear the answer: Christ. “This is My Son, My chosen one. Listen to Him!” Jesus brings God to us and us to God. With Him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes.... For this reason, I say to every one of you today: “Put on Christ!” in your life, and you will find a Friend in whom you can always trust; “put on Christ” and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; “put on Christ” and your life will be full of His love; it will be a fruitful life. Because we all want to have a fruitful life, one that is life-giving for others! ...Today, it would be good for all of us to ask ourselves sincerely: In whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We all often have the temptation to put ourselves at the center, to believe that we are the axis of the universe, to believe that we alone build our lives, or to think that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But we all know that it is not so.... And we end up “full,” but not nourished, and it is very sad to see young people “full,” but weak. Young people must be strong, nourished by the faith and not filled with other things! “Put on Christ” in your life, place your trust in Him and you will never be disappointed! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican; it removes us from the center and puts God at the center; faith immerses us in His love and gives us security, strength, and hope.
Seemingly, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different. With God, peace, consolation, gentleness, courage, serenity, and joy, which are all fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), find a home in our heart; then our very being is transformed; our way of thinking and acting is made new, it becomes Jesus’ own, God’s own, way of thinking and acting. Dear friends, faith is revolutionary and today I ask you: Are you open to entering into this revolutionary wave of faith? Only by entering into this wave will your young lives make sense and so be fruitful!
Homily, Waterfront of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, July 25th
“Jesus is looking at you and is asking you: Do you want to help Me carry the Cross?” Dear brothers and sisters, no one can approach and touch the Cross of Jesus without leaving something of himself or herself there, and without bringing something of the Cross of Jesus into his or her own life.... Jesus, with His Cross, walks with us and takes upon Himself our fears, our problems, and our sufferings, even those which are deepest and most painful. ...The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own. Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on His shoulders our crosses and saying to us: “Have courage! You do not carry your cross alone! I carry it with you. I have overcome death and I have come to give you hope, to give you life” (cf. Jn 3:16).... What has the Cross left in each one of us? You see, it gives us a treasure that no one else can give: the certainty of the faithful love which God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and to save us. The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God; there we find His immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe. Dear young people, let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, let us give ourselves over to Him (cf. Lumen Fidei, 16), because He never disappoints anyone! Only in Christ crucified and risen can we find salvation and redemption. With Him, evil, suffering, and death do not have the last word....
How many times have we seen them in the Way of the Cross, how many times have they accompanied Jesus on the way to Calvary: Pilate, Simon of Cyrene, Mary, the women... Today I ask you: Which of them do you want to be? Do you want to be like Pilate, who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus’ life, and instead washed his hands? Tell me: Are you one of those who wash their hands, who feign ignorance and look the other way? Or are you like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus to carry that heavy wood, or like Mary and the other women, who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness? And you, who do you want to be? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary? Jesus is looking at you now and is asking you: Do you want to help Me carry the Cross? Brothers and sisters, with all the strength of your youth, how will you respond to Him?
Via Crucis, Waterfront of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, July 26th
“Everyone knows the seed that has been received. Allow it to grow”
Dear young friends, seeing you all present here today, I think of the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. In front of the crucifix he heard the voice of Jesus saying to him: “Francis, go, rebuild my house.” ...But which house? Slowly, but surely, Francis came to realize that it was not a question of repairing a stone building, but about doing his part for the life of the Church. It was a matter of being at the service of the Church, loving her and working to make the countenance of Christ shine ever more brightly in her.
Today too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for His Church. My friends, the Lord needs you! Today too, He is calling each of you to follow Him in His Church and to be missionaries. The Lord is calling you today! Not the masses, but you, and you, and you, each one of you. Listen to what He is saying to you in your heart. I think that we can learn something from what has taken place in these days, of how we had to cancel, due to bad weather, this Vigil in the Campus Fidei, at Guaratiba. Is the Lord not telling us, perhaps, that we ourselves are the true field of faith, the true Campus Fidei, and not some geographical location? Yes, it is true–each one of us, each one of you, me, everyone! To be missionary disciples means to know that we are the Field of Faith of God! Starting with the name of the place where we are, the Field of Faith, I have thought of three images. A field is a place for sowing seeds.... Today–every day, but today in a particular way–Jesus is sowing the seed. When we accept the word of God, then we are the Field of Faith! Please, let Christ and His word enter your life; let the seed of the Word of God enter, let it blossom, and let it grow. God will take care of everything, but let Him work in you and bring about this growth! ... I know that you want to be good soil, true Christians, authentic Christians, not part-time Christians: “starchy,” aloof, and Christian in “appearance only.” I know that you don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you are aiming high, at long-lasting decisions which are meaningful.... In silence, let us allow the seed of Jesus to enter our hearts. Remember this moment. Everyone knows the seed that has been received. Allow it to grow, and God will nurture it.
Beyond being a place of sowing, the field is a training ground. Jesus asks us to follow Him for life, He asks us to be His disciples, to “play on His team.” ... Saint Paul, describing Christians, tells us: “Athletes deny themselves all sorts of things; they do this to win a crown of leaves that withers, but we a crown that is imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25). Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup! Something bigger than the World Cup! Jesus offers us the possibility of a fruitful life, a life of happiness; He also offers us a future with Him, an endless future, in eternal life.... But He asks us to pay admission, and the cost of admission is that we train ourselves “to get in shape,” so that we can face every situation in life undaunted, bearing witness to our faith, by talking with Him in prayer.... Ask Jesus, speak to Jesus, and if you make a mistake in your life, if you should fall, if you should do something wrong, don’t be afraid. “Jesus, look at what I have done, what must I now do?” Speak continually with Jesus, in the good times and in the bad; when you do right, and when you do wrong. Do not fear Him! This is prayer. And through this, you train yourselves in dialogue with Jesus, in this path of being missionary disciples–by the sacraments, which make His life grow within us and conform us to Christ. A field is a construction site. We are seeing this happen before us with our own eyes: young people have engaged and given themselves to the work of building up the Church. When our heart is good soil which receives the word of God, when “we work up a sweat” in trying to live as Christians, we experience something tremendous: we are never alone, we are part of a family of brothers and sisters, all journeying on the same path–we are part of the Church.... Young people, please: don’t put yourselves at the tailend of history. Be active members! Go on the offensive! ...
But one question remains: Where do we start? Whom do we ask to begin this work? Some people once asked Mother Teresa of Calcutta what needed to change in the Church, and which wall should they start with? They asked her, where is the starting point? And she replied, you and I are the starting point! This woman showed determination! She knew where to start. And today I make her words my own and I say to you: Shall we begin? Where? With you and me! Each one of you, once again in silence, ask yourself: If I must begin with myself, where exactly do I start? Each one of you, open your heart, so that Jesus may tell you where to start.
Prayer Vigil, Waterfront of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, July 27th
“The experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life”
“Go and make disciples of all nations.” With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: “It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.” Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? What is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.
Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting Him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love, and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9)....
“Do not be afraid!” ...When we go to proclaim Christ, it is He Himself who goes before us and guides us. When He sent His disciples on mission, He promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus never leaves anyone alone! He always accompanies us.... Go forth and don’t be afraid!
Serve. ...“I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all.” Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.... Dear young friends, Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness. “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Amen.
Homily, Waterfront of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, July 28th
“The disciple is someone ‘off center’: the center is Jesus Christ, who calls us” Missionary discipleship is a vocation: a call and an invitation. It is given in the “today,” but also “in tension.” There is no such thing as static missionary discipleship. A missionary disciple cannot be his own master, his immanence is in tension towards the transcendence of discipleship and towards the transcendence of mission. It does not allow for self-absorption: either it points to Jesus Christ or it points to the people to whom He must be proclaimed. The missionary disciple is a self-transcending subject, a subject projected towards encounter: an encounter with the Master (who anoints us as His disciples) and an encounter with men and women who await the message.
That is why I like saying that the position of missionary disciples is not in the center but at the periphery: they live poised towards the peripheries... including the peripheries of eternity, in the encounter with Jesus Christ. In the preaching of the Gospel, to speak of “existential peripheries” decentralizes things; as a rule, we are afraid to leave the center. The missionary disciple is someone “off center”–the center is Jesus Christ, who calls us and sends us forth. The disciple is sent to the existential peripheries.
Address to the Leadership of the Latin American Episcopal Council, Rio de Janeiro, July 28th
“I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring the most precious thing given to me: Jesus”