31st MEDJUGORJE YOUTH FESTIVAL August 1-6, 2020
A LETTER FROM POPE FRANCIS TO THE 31st MEDJUGORJE YOUTH FESTIVAL
Dear youth! The annual encounter of the youth in Medjugorje is the time filled with prayer, reflections and fraternal meeting, time that gives you the opportunity to meet the living Jesus Christ, in a special way in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and in the sacrament of Reconciliation. It thus helps you discover a different way of life, different from the one offered by the culture of the temporary, according to which nothing can be permanent, the culture that knows only the pleasure of the present moment. In this atmosphere of relativism, in which it is difficult to find true and sure answers, the motto of the Festival: »Come, and you shall see« (Jn 1,39), the words used by Jesus to address his disciples - are a blessing. Jesus is also looking at you, inviting you to come and stay with Him.
Do not be afraid! Christ lives and wants you to be alive. He is the true beauty and youth of this world. Everything He touches becomes young, new, full of life and meaning (cf. Apostolic exhortation. Christus vivit, 1). This is exactly what we see in the Gospel scene, in which the Lord asks two disciples following Him: “What are you looking for?” They answer: “Rabbi, where do you live?” and Jesus tells them: “Come, and you shall see” (cf. Jn 1,35-39). They came, they saw, and they stayed. The experience of meeting Jesus was so imprinted in the disciples’ memory that one of them even recorded the time of the meeting: “It was around four o'clock in the afternoon.” (v. 39)
The Gospel describes how, after being in the house of the Lord, the two disciples became “mediators” who made it possible for others to meet, know and inherit Him. Andrew immediately went to share his experience with his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus. The Teacher, seeing him, gave him the nickname: “Kefa”, meaning “the Rock”, which will become the personal name of Peter (cf. Jn 1: 40-42). This shows how in the encounter with Jesus, we become a new person and we receive a mission to pass on that experience onto others, but with a view always focused on Him, on the Lord.
Dear youth, have you met this gaze of Jesus asking you: “What are you looking for?” Have you heard His voice speaking to you: “Come, and you shall see”? Have you felt the urge to set off?
Spend this time with Jesus, to be filled with His Spirit and thus become ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Set off to meet Him, stay with Him in prayer, confide in Him as He knows the human heart.
The beautiful call of the Lord: “Come, and you shall see”, which was conveyed to us by the young and beloved disciple of Christ, is also addressed to all future disciples. Jesus invites you to meet Him, and this Festival is an opportunity to “come and see”. The word “come”, in addition to pointing to physical movement, has more profound spiritual meaning. It points to the course of faith whose ultimate goal is to “see”, that is – to experience the Lord and thanks to Him to see the full and final purpose of our existence.
The great example of the Church that is young in the heart, ready to follow Christ with new freshness and fidelity, always remains the Virgin Mary. The power of Her “Yes” and Her “Let it be unto me” which she said before the angel, delights us at all times. Her “Yes” means to participate and take risks, without any guarantee except knowing that she is the bearer of the promise. Her “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1,38), the most beautiful example that tells us what happens when a man, in his freedom, surrenders himself into God’s hands.
Let this example inspire you and be your guideline! Mary is the Mother who watches “over us, her children, on our journey through life, often weary and in need, anxious that the light of hope not fail. For that is our desire: that the light of hope never fail. Mary our Mother looks at this pilgrim people: a youthful people whom she loves and who seek her in the silence of their hearts amid all the noise, the chatter and the distractions of the journey” (Christus vivit, 48).
Dear youth, “keep running attracted by that face of Christ, whom we love so much, whom we adore in the Holy Eucharist and acknowledge in the flesh of our suffering brothers and sisters.May the Holy Spirit urge you on as you run this race. The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith” (Ibid, 299). In this race for the Gospel, inspired by this Festival as well, I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoking the light and the power of the Holy Spirit so that you may be true witnesses of Christ. Therefore, I pray and I bless you, asking you to pray for me, too.
Given in Rome, at St John Lateran,
on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 2020