During the great vigil at Tor Vergata, on the last night of WYD 2000, John Paul II said a phrase that remained in everyone’s heart: “Whoever accompanies the young, stays young!” He was referring not only to himself, eighty years old and physically ill at the time, but to the whole Church. Pope Francis underlines a similar idea in the video that accompanies his August prayer intention.
It features a brief but intense question and answer session between Pope Francis and the young people of the EYM- the Eucharistic Youth Movement, the youth branch of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. Already from the first question (“When I go to church in my neighborhood, I only see old people. Is the Church only something for the elderly?”) one perceives an awareness of the young people: their choice of faith today goes against the tide, in a society that proposes models of a completely different kind.
Pope Francis, on the other hand, points to Mary as an example. She is the patron of WYD in Lisbon and is featured in the WYD motto (“Mary set out and traveled in haste”, cf. Luke 1:39). Despite being the protagonist of the event that will change history, Pope Francis explains that, “She is not there to get a selfie or to show off. The first thing she does is set out, in a hurry, to serve, to help.” In the era of Instagram and TikTok, where sometimes sharing a moment online seems more important than actually living it, this Jewish girl from two thousand years ago still has something to teach today’s young people: that a full life means “setting out to help others.”
The Pope asks the young people who will go to Lisbon, but also those who will follow from home, to do the same, without “fearing to bear witness to the Gospel.” And to do it with joy, because if we Christians don’t have joy we are not credible and no one believes us. Every fruit starts from a seed, and Pope Francis hopes to “see in Lisbon a seed of the world of the future. A world where love is at the center, where we can feel like brothers and sisters. We are at war, we need something else.”
(Coordinator of Pope Video)