The young people joyfully welcomed Pope Francis in the Edward VII Park, in what was the first meeting between the pilgrims and the Holy Father during WYD at Lisbon. The moments prior to the Pope's arrival were marked by music and expectation. As soon as the car in which Pope Francis was traveling approached the enclosure, the park was filled with shouts of welcome.
When the Holy Father arrived on stage, a group of artists performed a dance. After this, the patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente, said a few words of welcome and thanked the youthful spirit that always maintains the spirit of the Holy Father. Francisco.
During the ceremony there was also a parade of flags of the countries participating in this meeting. Immediately after, the WYD icons arrived at the site. All this under the watchful eye of Pope Francis, who was all smiles.
The liturgical moment of the ceremony then began. The Pope said a prayer before the choir sang the Alleluia and a passage from the Gospel according to St. Luke was proclaimed. The chosen passage was that of the 72 disciples sent by Christ to spread the Good News.
God calls us
After the Gospel, Pope Francis addressed a speech to the young people, which began by thanking all the organizers and workers of WYD. The Holy Father told those present that "you are not here by chance, the Lord has called you. Not only in these days, but from the beginning of your lives".
Francis encouraged everyone to think that the meaning of everyone's life is that God calls each of us by name. "None of us is a Christian by chance, we were all called by name."
Francis explained that "we have been called because we are loved. In the eyes of God we are precious children". The Lord wants to make each one of us "a unique and original masterpiece", which implies "a beauty that we cannot glimpse".
The Pope encouraged pilgrims to remember this to one another. He also wanted to emphasize that "we are loved as we are, without make-up, and we are called by name. It is not a figure of speech. If God calls you by name, it means that for God none of us is a face, a face, a heart".
Francis also spoke of the illusions of virtual life and social networks that do not know the person, but focus only on their usefulness. Something that does not happen with Christ, because Jesus "cares about each one of you".
Pope Francis invites to welcome
It is true that in the Church we are all sinners, but we are the "community of the called, each one as we are". For this reason, the Pope affirmed that "in the Church there is room for everyone, no one is superfluous. Jesus says it clearly".
Francis stressed that "the Lord does not point his finger, but opens his arms". In the Gospels we can see that "Jesus never closes the door, but invites you to come in and see".
On the other hand, the Pope encouraged young people to be restless and to ask questions. "Never tire of asking questions. Asking questions is good, indeed, it is often better than giving answers."
The Holy Father concluded his speech by recalling once again that "God loves us, he loves us as we are, not as we would like to be or as society would like us to be". In this task of living in awareness of this, we are accompanied by Holy Mary, "our great help", for "she is our Mother".
Finally, Pope Francis wanted to address some words of encouragement to all the young people gathered: "Do not be afraid, be courageous, go forward".