22 February 2018
World Youth Day: A Challenge for the Courageous
The invitation to not be afraid, the importance of the name, the grace of God, and the courage in the present: these are the four cardinal points of Pope Francis’ Message for WYD 2018
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God” (Lk 1:30) is the theme of Pope Francis’ Message to the young people preparing for the XXXIII World Youth Day 2018, which will be celebrated at the diocesan level on Palm Sunday.
This is the second Message (made known today) that Pope Francis has addressed to young people on the preparatory path towards the Panama WYD, to be celebrated from 22 to 27 January 2019 and currently, 1220 groups are registered, for a total of 51,059 pilgrims from nearly 70 countries.
“We have chosen—writes Francis—to be accompanied on this journey by the example and intercession of Mary, the young woman of Nazareth whom God chose as the Mother of his Son. She walks with us towards the Synod and towards the WYD in Panama.”
The first moment of reflection is focused on the invitation “Do not be afraid”: “These are the words addressed by God’s messenger, the Archangel Gabriel, to Mary, an ordinary girl from a small village in Galilee. […] And you young people, —the Pope asks—what are your fears?”
In moments when “doubts and fears flood our hearts,” Francis underlines, “discernment becomes necessary. It allows us to bring order to the confusion of our thoughts and feelings, to act in a just and prudent way.”
Another moment of reflection is focused on the invocation “Mary!”: “The first reason not to fear is the fact that God has called us by name. The angel, God’s messenger, called Mary by name,” writes the Pope. “Dear young people, to be called by name is therefore a sign of our great dignity in the eyes of God and a sign of his love for us. God calls each one of you by name.”
Then, there is a passage about grace: “You have found favour with God.” “The main reason why Mary need not be afraid—Francis explains—is that she has found favour with God. The word ‘grace’ speaks of love freely given, not owed”, and “from the certainty that God’s grace is with us comes the strength to take courage in the present moment”, the last focal point of the Pope’s address. This is, he added, “the courage to carry forward what God asks of us here and now, in every area of our lives; courage to embrace the vocation which God reveals to us; courage to live out our faith without hiding or diminishing it.”
As the Panamanian event approaches, the Pope provokes the young people: “WYD is for the courageous! Not for young people who are searching only for comfort and who withdraw whenever difficulties arise. Do you accept the challenge?”