Pope to young people: "Jesus is transmitted through concrete faces".

The meeting with young people at the St. Dionysius School of the Ursuline Sisters of Marusi in Athens was the finale of Pope Francis' extensive trip to the nations of Cyprus and Greece.

Maria José Atienza-December 6, 2021-Reading time: 4 minutes
pope greece young people

The Pope applauds during his meeting with young people ©CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope Francis arrived early in the morning at the school to meet with a large group of young people. There he was greeted with the famous Jesus Christ You're my life and applause.

After the greeting of the Catholic Bishop of Athens, Msgr. Sevastiano Rossolato, the Pope enjoyed some regional dances that gave way to the testimonies and questions of the young people: Katerina, Ioanna and Aboud, a young Syrian who recounted his flight "from the beloved and martyred Syria", together with his family, with serious danger to his life on several occasions.

The heart of faith: we are children of God

The Pope wanted to respond to the questions raised by the young woman about the doubts that sometimes arise within her about her faith or the Christian life. "I would like to say to you and to all of you: do not be afraid of doubts, because they are not a lack of faith. Do not be afraid of doubts. On the contrary, doubts are 'vitamins of faith': they help to strengthen it," said the Pope, who compared the Christian life to a "love story, there are moments when you have to ask yourself questions. And that is good.

However, the Pope wanted to warn young people that, many times, that doubt that leads us to think that we have made a mistake with the Lord is a temptation of the devil that must be rejected: "What to do when that doubt becomes suffocating and does not leave you in peace, when you lose confidence and no longer know where to start? We have to find our starting point. What is it? Amazement," the Holy Father recalled.

"Astonishment is not only the beginning of philosophy, but also of our faith," the Pope wanted to emphasize in the cradle of the great Greek thinkers. "When someone encounters Jesus, he is amazed," continued the Pope, who reaffirmed this idea by recalling that "our faith does not consist first of all in a set of things to believe and precepts to fulfill. The heart of faith is not an idea, it is not a moral, the heart of faith is a reality, a beautiful reality that does not depend on us and that leaves us speechless: we are God's beloved children!

God does not repent of us

The Pope wanted to emphasize this idea of not allowing oneself to be carried away by pessimism, despite the weaknesses and failings of each one of us. In this line, he recalled how the sense of divine filiation is rooted in the awareness that God loves us infinitely, that he looks at us with eyes different from our own: "if we place ourselves in front of the mirror, we may not see ourselves as we would like to, because we run the risk of focusing on what we do not like. But if we put ourselves in front of God, the perspective changes (...) God does not regret us. God always forgives. It is we who get tired of asking for forgiveness".

The Pope, using a simile familiar to those present: the Iliad, wanted to warn young people of the current "siren songs" that "with seductive and insistent messages, which focus on easy money, on the false needs of consumerism, on the cult of physical well-being, on entertainment at any cost... They are so many fireworks, which shine for a moment and then leave only smoke in the air", and in the face of these temptations, he encouraged young people to "nourish the wonder, the beauty of faith. We are not Christians because we have to be, but because it is beautiful," he concluded.

The faces of others

Another of the ideas that the Holy Father wanted to emphasize is the need for community, to encounter Christ in "the other". "To know God, it is not enough to have clear ideas about Him - that is a small part, it is not enough - you have to go to Him with your life," the Pope said.

"Jesus is transmitted through concrete faces and people," said Francis, in an affirmation that is especially linked to the moments experienced during this trip with migrants in Cyprus and refugees in Mytilene, as well as in his frequent calls for unity and understanding with the faithful of other confessions. "God makes himself present through people's stories. He passes through us", he wanted to emphasize to the group of young people gathered there highlighting that "I am happy to see you all together, united, even though you come from such different countries and histories".

One of these young people from other countries is Aboud, who told the Holy Father about his difficult and dangerous flight from Syria to Greece in which he almost lost his life. The Pope addressed him, urging him to have "the courage of the hope you had" so as not to be paralyzed by the fears that haunt all of life and especially, he stressed, addressing all those present, "the courage to take risks, to go towards others. With this courage, each and every one of you will find yourselves, you will find each other and you will find the meaning of life".

This meeting, which ended with the greetings of several young people, including the three witnesses, to the Holy Father, was the last act of this apostolic journey to Cyprus and Greece. Shortly after, at around 11:00, Francis took off from Athens International Airport to end a trip marked by the ecumenical impulse, the call for solidarity and aid to migrants and displaced persons, and the call for dialogue.

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