By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis challenged young people on Saturday to listen to Jesus and change something within them in order to build God’s kingdom of love. Meeting some 3000 children from the northern Italian Diocese of Brescia, the Pope wished that the upcoming Synod of Bishops in October on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” be well prepared for by truly listening to young people. He said true listening also means openness to change, walking together and sharing dreams.
Jesus’ dream – God's kingdom of love
The Pope said that young people also need to listen to Jesus, change something within themselves and adopt His dream. This dream of Jesus, he explained, is the Kingdom of God which means loving God and loving one another and forming a big family of brothers and sisters with God as Father, who loves all his children and is full of joy at the return of the lost one.
Abandon ‘old man’
When Jesus says that anyone wanting to follow Him must deny himself, the Pope said, He does not mean despising life, desires, the body and relationships, all of which are good What he means is abandoning the ‘old man’ in us, the selfish ego that goes after ones interest often masked behind a pleasant façade. He noted many are slaves of egoism, attached to riches and vices that are inner slavery.
The Holy Father said Jesus died to free us from the slavery of sin that kills us from within. But to free us, Jesus needs our collaboration, our repentance, humility and love. And those who trust Jesus, the Pope said, are rewarded with surprising experiences, such the joy of feeling the beauty of His Word in the Gospel and the Bible, being attracted to the Mass, being with God in silence before the Eucharist, experiencing Him in the suffering, the sick and the abandoned. The Lord also give one that the courage to go against the current without ostentation and judging others. All these, the Pope said, help to empty oneself more and more and be filled with Him more and more.
Francis of Assisi
As a case in point, the Holy Father pointed to St. Francis of Assisi, who in his younger days was full of worldly dreams. But after Jesus spoke to him from the crucifix, he “embraced the dream of Jesus, stripped himself of the ‘old man’, denied his egoistic self and welcomed the self of Jesus, humble, poor, simple, merciful, full of joy and admiration for the beauty of creatures.
The Pope also asked the young people to find out about the dreams of their own countryman from Brescia, Blessed Pope Paul VI, as a young man in his family, as a student and in the oratory.