28 November 2019
Apostolic Journey

The message of Pope Francis to the young people of Thailand and Japan

“They’ve invented so many things, but thank God there are still no selfies of the soul! To be happy, we must ask for help from others, let the photo be the face of another; that is, to go outside of ourselves and go towards others, especially those most in need.” With these words Pope Francis, during his recent Apostolic Journey, addressed Japanese youth with a speech in response to some testimonies.

“There are men and women who have forgotten how to laugh,” that do not know a sense of wonder, living “like zombies, their heart has stopped beating,” because of an incapacity to celebrate life with others, he remarked. “How many people in the world,” he said, “are materially rich, but live as slaves of an unparalleled loneliness!  I think of the loneliness that many people experience, young people and adults, in our prosperous but often anonymous society.”

Pope Francis asked the youth for a decisive change in priorities, which “involves recognizing that the most important thing is not everything that I possess or that I can buy, but who I can share it with. It is not important to concentrate on or ask why I live, but who I live for.” He continued, “Things are important, but people are indispensable; without them we dehumanize ourselves, we lose our face and our name, and we become just one more object—maybe the best of the lot, but always an object.”

Therefore, the mission that the Pope has entrusted to young people is to offer to the world the testimony that we are “for God” and for others: “Witness to the fact that social friendship, that friendship among you, is possible! There is hope in a future based on a culture of encounter, of friendship, of acceptance, of brotherhood, and of respect for the dignity of every person, especially for those most in need of love and understanding. Without the need to attack or scorn, but learning to recognize the worth of others.”

A few days ago, in the Thai cathedral of the Assumption, in the heart of the Archdiocese of Bangkok, the Pope celebrated mass for about ten thousand young people. In his homily, the Holy Father dwelt on the future: “You are a new generation, with new hopes, new dreams, and new questions; certainly also with some doubts, but, rooted in Christ, I invite you to keep joy alive and not to be afraid to look towards the future with confidence.”

The Pope invited: “Rooted in Christ, look forward with joy and confidence. This condition is born from knowing ourselves to be wanted, met, and infinitely loved by the Lord. The friendship cultivated with Jesus is the oil necessary to light the way, your path, but also that of those around you: friends, neighbors, classmates and coworkers, including those who disagree with you about everything.”

“Without this strong sense of rootedness,” he explained, “we can remain bewildered by the ‘voices’ of this world, which are vying for our attention. Many of them are enticing, proposals that are well ‘made up,’ which at first seem beautiful and profound, but in time they end up leaving only emptiness, tiredness, loneliness and listlessness, and extinguishing the spark of life that the Lord lit in each one of us one day.”