MESSAGE FOR TWENTY-FIFTH WORLD YOUTH DAY VATICAN CITY, 4 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Message of the Holy Father for twenty-fifth World Youth Day has just been published. The Day, which is due to be celebrated in all the dioceses of the world on Palm Sunday 28 March, has as its theme this year: "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"The present 25th Youth Day represents a stage on the journey towards the next World Youth Day, which will take place in August 2011 in Madrid, Spain, where I hope many of you will come to experience that event of grace. "To prepare ourselves for this celebration, I would like to suggest some reflections on this year's theme: "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?", taken from the Gospel account of Jesus' meeting with the rich young man, a topic already considered in 1985 by Pope John Paul II in a most beautiful Letter, addressed to young people for the first time".
1. Jesus Meets a Young Man. "The Gospel narrative effectively expresses Jesus' great concern for young people. ... His desire is to meet with you personally and establish a dialogue with each one of you".
2. Jesus Looked at Him and Loved Him. "In the evangelical narrative, St. Mark stresses how 'Jesus looking at him, loved him'. The Lord's gaze was at the core of that very special encounter, and of all Christian experience. In fact, Christianity is not primarily an ethic, but an experience of Jesus Christ Who loves us personally, young and old, poor and rich; He loves us even when we turn our backs on Him".
"The awareness that ... Christ loves everyone and always ... enables us to overcome any trial: ... sins, suffering or discouragement. In this love lies the source of all Christian life and the fundamental reason for evangelisation; for if we have truly found Jesus, we cannot but bear witness to Him to those people who have not yet encountered His gaze".
3. Discovering a Plan for Life. "The rich young man asks Jesus: 'What must I do?' The stage of life you are currently experiencing is a time of discovery: discovery of the gifts that God has lavished on you, and of your responsibilities. It is, moreover, a time of fundamental choices to create a plan for your lives. It is a moment, therefore, to question yourselves about the authentic meaning of existence and to ask: 'Am I satisfied with my life? Is there something lacking?'"
"Do not be afraid to address these questions! ... They await answers, answers that are not superficial but able to satisfy your authentic expectations of life and happiness. To discover the life plan that can make you fully happy, listen to God, Who has a plan of love for each one of you.
4. Come and follow me! "The Christian vocation springs from a proposal of love from the Lord, and can only be fulfilled through a response of love. ... Dear friends, following the example of so many disciples of Christ, joyfully accept His invitation to follow, in order to live intensely and fruitfully in this world.
"The sadness of the rich young man of the Gospel is that which arises in the heart when a person does not have the courage to follow Christ, to make the right choice. However, it is never too late to respond to Him!
"In this Year for Priests, I would like to exhort boys and young men to be attentive as to whether the Lord is inviting them to a greater gift ... in ordained ministry, and generously and enthusiastically to make themselves ready to accept this sign of special predilection, undertaking with a priest or spiritual director the necessary path of discernment. Do not be afraid, dear young people, if the Lord calls you to the religious, monastic or missionary life, or to a life of special consecration: He is able to give profound joy to those who respond with courage.
"Moreover, I invite all those who feel the vocation to marriage to accept it with faith, committing themselves to laying solid foundations for a love that is great, faithful and open to the gift of life, which is a source of richness and grace for society and the Church".
5. Oriented to Eternal Life. "To ask ourselves about the definitive future awaiting each of us gives full meaning to existence, because it orients our life plan toward horizons that are not limited or fleeting, but broad and profound; horizons which lead us to love the world so loved by God himself, to dedicate ourselves to its development, but always with the freedom and joy born of faith and hope. These horizons help us not to make absolute values of earthly realities, aware that God is opening greater prospects for us. ... Dear young people, I exhort you not to forget this perspective in your own lives: We are called to eternity".
6. The Commandments, the Way of Authentic Love. "Jesus also asks you if you know the commandments, if you are concerned to form your conscience according to divine law and if you will put it into practice. These are certainly questions that go against the tide of the present-day mentality, which presents freedom as disconnected from values, rules and objective norms, and invites us to reject any limitation to momentary desires".
"God gave us the commandments because He wants to educate us to true freedom, because He wants to build with us a Kingdom of love, justice and peace. To listen to them and to put them into practice does not mean to be alienated, but to find the path of authentic freedom and love, because the commandments do not limit happiness, but show how to find it".
7. We Have Need of You. "Young people today find themselves facing many problems arising from unemployment, and from the lack of solid ideals, and of concrete prospects for the future. ... Despite the difficulties, do not let yourselves be discouraged and do not give up your dreams! Rather, cultivate great desires of fraternity, justice and peace in your hearts. The future is in the hands of people who know how to seek and discover powerful reasons for life and hope"
"In my recent Encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate' on integral human development, I listed some of the great modern challenges, which are urgent and essential for the life of this world: the use of the resources of the earth, respect for ecology, the just division of wealth, the control of financial mechanisms, solidarity with poor countries, ... the struggle against hunger in the world, the promotion of the dignity of human work, service to the culture of life, the building of peace between peoples, inter-religious dialogue, and the correct use of the social communications media.
"These are challenges to which you are called to respond in order to build a more just and fraternal world; challenges that call for an exacting and passionate life plan, into which to pour all your richness according to the design that God has for each one of you".
"In this Year for Priests, I invite you to study the lives of the saints, especially those of saintly priests. You will see that God guided them and that they found their path day after day, in faith, hope and love. Christ calls each of you to commit yourselves, with Him, and to assume your responsibilities to build a civilisation of love".
MESS/WORLD YOUTH DAY/... VIS 100316 (1270)