by Devin Watkins
Pope Francis concluded his visit to Bangladesh with an encounter at Dhaka’s Notre Dame University on Saturday evening.
In response to the testimonies of the students of Notre Dame of Bangladesh, Pope Francis invited them to “journey” through life rather than “wandering aimlessly”.
A young girl named Upasana expressed the joy of her fellow students, saying they were all “very enthusiastic” about his visit.
Confirming Upasana’s sentiment, the Holy Father praised the intrepidness of the young in the face of difficulties.
“Young people are always ready to move forward, to make things happen and to take risks. I encourage you to keep moving with this enthusiasm in the good times and the bad times,” he said.
This means moving forward, he said, upon the right path and not just any aimless movement.
“Our life is not without direction, it has a purpose given to us by God.”
Anthony, a student at Notre Dame, said his is a generation “growing up in a fragile world that cries out for wisdom.”
Pope Francis said the key to his distress is ‘wisdom born of faith’ seen in the eyes of our parents and grandparents who put their trust in God.”
He said this means looking at the world and its problems “with the eyes of God”, allowing us to “reject false promises of happiness”.
“We receive that wisdom when we start to see things with God’s eyes, listen to others with God’s ears, to love with God’s heart, and to judge things by God’s values,” he said.
The Holy Father said God’s wisdom requires us to open up to others and not remain closed in our own “little world”.
“The wisdom of God opens us up to others. It helps us to look beyond our personal comforts and the false securities which blind us to those grand ideals, which make life more beautiful and worthwhile.”
Returning to the relationship with grandparents, Pope Francis said God’s wisdom leads us to see the good of our own culture, which, he said, in Bangladesh is a profound respect for the elderly.
“The elderly have the “charism of bridging the gap”, in that they ensure that the most important values are passed down to their children and grandchildren. Through their words, love, affection and presence, we realize that history did not begin with us, but that we are part of an age-old “journeying” and that reality is bigger than we are.”
Hope in Jesus
Pope Francis ended his warm words, as had Upasana and Anthony, with an expression of hope.
He said Christians find in Jesus the solidarity of God, “who constantly walks by our side.”
“The wisdom of God reinforces the hope in us and helps us to face the future with courage,” he said.
The Pope’s final public words before leaving the country was a blessing: “God bless Bangladesh! [Isshór Bangladeshké ashirbád korún!]”