This is the Youth of Christ!


During World Youth Day 2023 (WYD23), Pope Francis indicated some essential steps that allow young people to be the youth of Christ.




During the WYD23, we heard the crowds shouting what has become one of the catchphrases of WYD since Pope John Paul II: “This is the Pope’s youth!” Pope Francis and the entire organization’s greatest wish was that the WYD23 would truly be an encounter with the Living Christ! That’s why I think this should replace the cry: “This is the youth of Christ!” In Lisbon, Pope Francis showed us how to be young people of Christ. I invite you to reflect on these steps with me now.

Step #1:

Knowing and feeling called by name

This is how the Pope began his message at the welcoming celebration: “We are called because we are loved [by] Him who calls us each day to embrace and encourage us; to make of each one of us a unique and original masterpiece, whose beauty we can barely glimpse.” In his message at the welcome celebration, the Pope addressed young people like this: “Friend, if God calls you by name, it means that for him you are not a number, but a face, a heart.”

Step #2:

Feeling that Jesus trusts you

The second step proposed by the Pope to grow as a young person of Christ is to know that you and each one of us count for Him. If we are called by name, it is because He values us, loves us, and depends on us. He will never abandon us in a sad inner emptiness. Speaking of the illusions of the virtual world in which young people feel involved, the Pope wanted to distinguish Jesus by assuring us that He will not deceive us nor abandon us when we are no longer part of the numbers in the algorithms.

Step #3:

Know that Christ calls you just as you are

Pope Francis continued his message at the welcome celebration. “We are called as we are, with our problems, with the limitations we have, with our overflowing joy, with this desire to be better and to triumph. We are called as we are. Think about it. Jesus calls me as I am, not as you want me to be.”

Step #4:

Feeling part of a community

Perhaps one of the most striking moments of WYD23 was when Pope Francis insisted that the Church is a community open to all: “All, all, all!” Much has been said about what the Pope meant by these words: “Friends, I want to be clear with you, who are allergic to falsehoods and empty words: in the Church, there is room for everyone. For everyone! In the Church, no one is too many, there is room for everyone. […] Everyone, in your own language, repeat with me: everyone, everyone, everyone. This is the Church Mother of all.”

Step #5:

Don’t get tired of asking questions

According to the Pope during the welcome celebration at WYD23, the young person of Christ asks many questions and never tires of asking. The Pope said: “And asking is good; in fact, it’s often better than giving answers because those who ask remain ‘restless’ and restlessness is the best medicine against habituation, that creeping normality that anesthetizes the soul.”

Step #6:

Feeling Jesus walking with me

According to the Pope’s Stations of the Cross speech, the young person of Christ feels comforted and always accompanied by Jesus Christ on his/her journey through life’s ups and downs. He/she knows that he/she is not alone. He/she knows that Jesus doesn’t turn his back on the sick, the poor, and the wronged. And he/she knows that He walks in our suffering, anxieties, and loneliness.

The young person of Christ is thus called to understand how Jesus gave Himself up on the cross. The Pope said, “The Cross is the greatest love with which Jesus wants to embrace our life. Yes, your life, the life of the other, the life of each one of us. Jesus walks for me. Jesus undertakes this journey for me, to give his life for me. …Don’t forget this: no one has greater love than the one who gives up his life.”

Step #7:

Walk, get up, and don’t be afraid!

Another step to being a young person of Christ is to have the attitudes that Pope Francis proposed in his message at the WYD23 vigil: “Walk. If I fall, get up, or let someone help me up, don’t stay down and train myself, train myself on the way. […] Walk with a goal, train yourself every day. Nothing in life is free; everything is paid for. Only one thing is free— the love of Jesus. So with this gift we have, the love of Jesus, and the desire and will to walk, let’s walk in hope. Let’s look to our roots, without fear, don’t be afraid!”

According to the Pope, these attitudes will generate the missionary joy of bringing the love of Jesus Christ to everyone!

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