By Robin Gomes
The Latin American Meeting of National Youth Pastoral Leaders is taking place in the Peruvian capital, Lima, November 18 to 23. The initiative promoted by the Peruvian Bishops' Conference has as its theme, “We young people are sacred land, the now of God.”
God's new fertile soil
In his message, the Pope tells youth pastoral leaders that they are rendering a service to the Church that cannot be neglected. “Young people,” he says, “speak to us and challenge us, they make us realize the lights and shadows of our community, and with their enthusiasm they encourage us to give responses in keeping with our times.”
“They are the fertile and new soil that God gives to Christian communities,” the Pope says. He reminds those engaged in youth ministry that they are entrusted with the task of accompanying young people with "respect and benevolence in the journey of their personal maturity so that they may be strengthened in faith and, with the grace of the Lord, bear fruits of love and hope".
The Holy Father notes that in Latin America, continent of hope, as in the entire world, young people are “the now of God”, because his Son Jesus, who is the manifestation of His goodness, walks and remains with them, and through Jesus, the Father continues speaking to us in the language of His love.
Recalling his words at the opening ceremony of the World Youth Day in Panama on January 24th, the Holy Father says, “The love of the Lord has to do more with raising up than knocking down, with reconciling than forbidding, with offering new chances than condemning, with the future than the past.”
Missionaries and witnesses
He thus exhorts the young people to deepen their knowledge of the person of Jesus so that, living in the intimacy of His heart, they may become missionary disciples and witnesses of His tenderness. In this way, other young people will approach Jesus, who is forever young, and experience the joy of His friendship and lead a life founded on fraternity and Christian solidarity.
The meeting at the John Paul II House of Coexistence in Lima is being attended by about 150 participants from different countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. It provides opportunities for reflection, animation and coordination to deepen the various aspects of youth pastoral care. Among the objectives are also those of defining common lines of action and supporting the work of national commissions for youth ministry.