“Everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life”
It is a document that was greeted with surprise and enthusiasm by the community of the faithful for its positive and optimistic vision which Pope Francis presented to the Youth. Throughout the exhortation, Pope Francis explained the gifts and qualities that young people bring to the Church and the people of God.
In nine chapters, the document takes us on a journey of what the Word of God tells to young people about discernment. In this article, I would like to highlight something that gives a special opening to the Church in these moments regarding young people It concerns the “now” of God.
Young people: the now of God
The Pope declares in one of the chapters: “You are the now of God”. Neither the past nor the future, it is the present that young people “are enriching with their contribution”. The Pope emphasizes the positive contribution of young people to society. Furthermore, the exhortation recognizes all the different ways of being young in this world, the “many youths” who are born in different social, political and cultural contexts. In this diversity young people are united by a universal characteristic: their “courage, freshness and enthusiasm”, tools to “radiate light and hope”.
But then, doesn’t the past or the future matter? Yes, the Pope insists that we have to grow strong roots, discover the living wealth of the past through what our parents and grandparents pass on, because it is easy to “fly away” or get lost “when you have nowhere to attach, where to fix”. In this period of life, young people are called to “project forward without cutting the roots, to build autonomy, but not in solitude”.
Youth does not exist
On the other hand, we are told that “youth” does not exist. Being something very abstract, we must speak not of youth, but of young people with concrete lives, with a way of relating to the reality in which they live. Some, as the text states, have lived in difficult contexts of war, violence and abuse. Being young is not an easy phase of life, but it is something beautiful and full of discoveries. This is reflected in “anxiety”, a word that sums up many of the aspirations of the hearts of young people. Our heart lives an anxiety that leads us to know ourselves, to take on the responsibility of a mission, to continually amaze ourselves with new things and all the gifts that God brings to the world throughout our lives.
Youth is not a simple “transition phase in which young people feel pushed towards adulthood”. Being young is the time to develop one’s personality, try new things, experiment, acquire evermore special “consistency and balance” and make decisions that gradually establish our path and life project, which is unique for every young person.
“Jesus, brimming with life, wants to help you make your youth worthwhile. In this way, you will not deprive the world of the contribution that you alone can make, in all your uniqueness and originality.”
God has a unique and original project for each of us. We hope that this exhortation leads many young people to be an active part of the Church, seeking their vocation within it.
Translation: Jhoanna Climacosa