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Pope Francis at the WYD Vigil Pope Francis at the WYD Vigil  (AFP or licensors)

How many lives changed by the humble influencers of God

The Pope tells the young people at the WYD Vigil in Metro Park that the life given by Christ to those who follow him is not a salvation that hangs from a cloud, nor is it a downloadable app.

By Andrea Tornielli

Pope Francis does not use a computer or a smartphone, but often when he speaks to young people he tries to proclaim the Gospel using the language of the digital generation. This was also the case during the World Youth Day Vigil at Metro Park in Panama, in front of more than half a million young people. The Pope explained that life given by Christ to those who follow him is not a salvation that hangs from a cloud, nor a downloadable application. And he recalled that incarnation and redemption were made possible by the "yes" of a girl from Nazareth, who "did not appear on the "social networks" of the time, was not an influencer, but without wanting or looking for it has become the woman who has had the greatest influence in history. Pope Francis called her Mary, the "influencer" of God. A girl who in a few words was able to say "yes" and trust in God's promises, "the only force capable of making all things new".

Thus, once again, the total reversal of human and worldly logic is manifested. God, the Almighty, who becomes small as a child and like each of us, is in need of the care of a father and a mother. He manifested himself in humility and was hidden, far from the radars of history, in a peripheral strip of the Roman Empire. God was incarnated thanks to a girl born and raised in a small village, far from the ebbing and flowing of great history. And without wanting or looking for it, she, who was not an influencer, influenced human history like no other creature has done or will ever do. It is the extraordinary greatness of those who are small, the power of those who are weak and fragile. In the image of Mary, an influencer who never sought it, there is a precious teaching for our times which is weary of virtuality, protagonism, and the eagerness to be on show. Those who really influence history are those who welcome and guard the Gospel and out of sight make it grow, conscious of being small and sinful, and trusting only in the help of God's grace.

Like Mary, the influencers of history are those fathers and mothers of families who, through their daily witness, have transmitted the Christian faith to their children and their neighbours. It is those young people who give of themselves free of charge showing compassion and closeness to the least and the discarded. They are those priests who spend hours in the confessional, welcoming and pouring the balm of mercy on the wounds and dramas of so many women and men of our time. We will never know how much good work has been done in the history of the Church, because we will never know how many tragedies have been avoided, how much violence has been averted, how many fractures have been mended, how many lives saved, thanks to the humble influencers of God who change history without showing themselves, considering themselves useless servants. They are even willing to shed their own blood in their "yes" to God, as did Saint Oscar Romero. His blood was present on the stage at the vigil at Metro Park in the piece of the shirt he wore when he was murdered on the altar.

27 January 2019, 14:20