the eve of World Youth Day 2013’s final Mass, Pope Francis joined
three million young people at Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach for a
prayer vigil Saturday. Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ remarks
at the vigil, via
have just recalled the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. In front of the
crucifix he heard the voice of Jesus saying to him: “Francis, go, rebuild my
house”. The young Francis responded readily and generously to the Lord’s call
to rebuild his house. But which house? Slowly but surely, Francis came to
realize that it was not a question of repairing a stone building, but about
doing his part for the life of the Church. It was a matter of being at the
service of the Church, loving her and working to make the countenance of Christ
shine ever more brightly in her.
too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for his Church. Today too, he
is calling each of you to follow him in his Church and to be missionaries. How?
In what way? Well, I think we can learn something from what happened in these
days: as we had to cancel due to bad weather, the realization of this vigil on
the campus Fidei, in Guaratiba. Lord willing might we say that the real area of
faith, the true campus fidei, is not a geographical place - but we,
ourselves? Yes! Each of us, each one of you. And missionary discipleship means
to recognize that we are God’s campus fidei, His “field of faith”! Therefore,
from the image of the field of faith, starting with the name of the place, Campus
Fidei, the field of faith, I have thought of three images that can help us
understand better what it means to be a disciple and a missionary. First, a
field is a place for sowing seeds; second, a field is a training ground; and
third, a field is a construction site.
A field is a place for sowing seeds. We all know the parable where Jesus speaks
of a sower who went out to sow seeds in the field; some seed fell on the path,
some on rocky ground, some among thorns, and could not grow; other seed fell on
good soil and brought forth much fruit (cf. Mt 13:1-9). Jesus himself explains
the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of God sown in our hearts (cf.
Mt 13:18-23). This, dear young people, means that the real Campus Fidei, the
field of faith, is your own heart, it is your life. It is your life that Jesus
wants to enter with his word, with his presence. Please, let Christ and his
word enter your life, blossom and grow.
tells us that the seed which fell on the path or on the rocky ground or among
the thorns bore no fruit. What kind of ground are we? What kind of terrain do
we want to be? Maybe sometimes we are like the path: we hear the Lord’s word
but it changes nothing in our lives because we let ourselves be numbed by all
the superficial voices competing for our attention; or we are like the rocky
ground: we receive Jesus with enthusiasm, but we falter and, faced with
difficulties, we don’t have the courage to swim against the tide; or we are
like the thorny ground: negativity, negative feelings choke the Lord’s word in
us (cf. Mt 13:18-22). But today I am sure that the seed is falling on good
soil, that you want to be good soil, not part-time Christians, not “starchy”
and superficial, but real. I am sure that you don’t want to be duped by a false
freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know
that you are aiming high, at long-lasting decisions which will make your lives
meaningful. Jesus is capable of letting you do this: he is “the way, and the
truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Let’s trust in him. Let’s make him our guide!
A field is a training ground. Jesus asks us to follow him for life, he asks us
to be his disciples, to “play on his team”. I think that most of you love
sports! Here in Brazil, as in other countries, football is a national passion.
Now, what do players do when they are asked to join a team? They have to train,
and to train a lot! The same is true of our lives as the Lord’s disciples.
Saint Paul tells us: “athletes deny themselves all sorts of things; they do
this to win a crown of leaves that withers, but we a crown that is
imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25). Jesus offers us something bigger than the World
Cup! He offers us the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; he also
offers us a future with him, an endless future, eternal life. But he asks us to
train, “to get in shape”, so that we can face every situation in life
undaunted, bearing witness to our faith. How do we get in shape? By talking
with him: by prayer, which is our daily conversation with God, who always
listens to us. By the sacraments, which make his life grow within us and
conform us to Christ. By loving one another, learning to listen, to understand,
to forgive, to be accepting and to help others, everybody, with no one excluded
or ostracized. Dear young people, be true “athletes of Christ”!
A field is a construction site. When our heart is good soil which receives the
word of God, when “we build up a sweat” in trying to live as Christians, we
experience something tremendous: we are never alone, we are part of a family of
brothers and sisters, all journeying on the same path: we are part of the
Church; indeed, we are building up the Church and we are making history. Saint
Peter tells us that we are living stones, which form a spiritual edifice (cf. 1
Pet 2:5). Looking at this platform, we see that it is in the shape of a church,
built up with stones and bricks. In the Church of Jesus, we ourselves are the
living stones. Jesus is asking us to build up his Church, but not as a little chapel
which holds only a small group of persons. He asks us to make his living Church
so large that it can hold all of humanity, that it can be a home for everyone!
To me, to you, to each of us he says: “Go and make disciples of all nations”.
Tonight, let us answer him: Yes, I too want to be a living stone; together we
want to build up the Church of Jesus! Let us all say together: I want to go
forth and build up the Church of Christ!
your young hearts, you have a desire to build a better world. I have been
closely following the news reports of the many young people who throughout the
world have taken to the streets in order to express their desire for a more
just and fraternal society - (and here in Brazil), they have gone out into the
streets to express a desire for a more just and fraternal civilization. These
are young people who want to be agents of change. I encourage them, in an
orderly, peaceful and responsible manner, motivated by the values of the
Gospel, to continue overcoming apathy and offering a Christian response to
social and political concerns present in their countries. But the question
remains: Where do we start? What are the criteria for building a more just
society? Mother Teresa of Calcutta was once asked what needed to change in the Church.
Her answer was: you and I!
Dear friends, never forget that you are the field of faith! You are
Christ’s athletes! You are called to build a more beautiful Church and a better
world. Let us lift our gaze to Our Lady. Mary helps us to follow Jesus, she
gives us the example by her own “yes” to God: “I am the servant of the Lord;
let it be done to me as you say” (Lk 1:38). All together, let us join Mary in
saying to God: let it be done to me as you say. Amen!