Friday, August 4, 2023

Pope Francis to Youth: “God Called You By Name”

Here are some selections from Pope Francis’s first encounter with young people from all over the world who have gathered in Lisbon, Portugal during the first week of August 2023 for World Youth Day. The translation is from the Vatican’s website:

“You are not here by accident. The Lord has called you, not only in these days, but from the very beginning of your days. He called you by name… 

“Think of this: Jesus called me by name. His words are inscribed in our hearts, and we come to realize that they are written in the hearts of every one of us, as a kind of title that tells people who we are, who you are. You have been called by name

“None of us is a Christian by chance; all of us were called by name. At the beginning of the story of our lives, before any talents we may have, before any shadows or wounds we may be carrying in our hearts, we were called. Why? Because we are loved. 

“This is something beautiful. In God’s eyes, we are precious children, and he calls us each day in order to embrace and encourage us, to make of us a unique and original masterpiece. Each of us is an “original”, whose beauty we can only begin to glimpse…

[This] “means that for God none of us is a number, but a face and a heart. I would like each of you to remember that many people know your name, yet they do not call you by name. Certainly your name is known, it appears on social networks and is processed by algorithms that associate it with likes and preferences, all of which is useful for market research, yet it does not begin to approach you in your uniqueness. How many wolves hide behind smiles of false goodness, saying that they know you, though they do not love you. They insist that they believe in you and promise that you will become someone, but then abandon you when you no longer matter…

“We must be careful not to let ourselves be deceived, for many realities that attract us and promise happiness are later shown to be what they really are: soap bubbles, superfluous things that we don’t need and that leave us empty inside. Let me tell you: Jesus is not like that. He trusts you, each of you, each of us, because each of us matters to him, each one of you matters to him. That is how Jesus is.

“That is why we, his Church, are the community of those who are called: not of people who are better than others – no, absolutely not – but of sinners, called as such. Let us think seriously for a moment about that: we are called as we are, with our problems and limitations, our overflowing joy, our desire to be better and to get ahead in this world. We are called as we are. Think of this: Jesus calls me as I am, not as I would like to be. We are the community of brothers and sisters of Jesus, sons and daughters of the same Father.

“Friends, I want to be clear with you, for you are allergic to falsity and empty words: in the Church, there is room for everyone. Everyone. In the Church, no one is left out or left over. There is room for everyone. Just the way we are. Everyone. 

“Jesus says this clearly. When he sends the apostles to invite people to the banquet which a man had prepared, he tells them: ‘Go out and bring in everyone’, young and old, healthy and infirm, righteous and sinners... The Lord does not point a finger, but opens his arms... He shows us Jesus on the cross, who opened his arms wide in order to be crucified and die for us.

“Jesus never closes the door, never, but invites you to enter: come and see. Jesus receives, Jesus welcomes. In these days, each of us transmits the love of Jesus. God loves you. God calls you. How lovely this is! God loves me. God calls me. He wants me to be close to him.”