Thank God you exist!” These are the heartfelt words Chiara Lubich addressed to young people on the occasion of World Youth Day 2,000. The following excerpt from her talk highlights the courage, freedom and hope that characterise young people and the specific contribution this generation can make to bring about “a new world, a better, happier world, one that is more worthy of the human person and more united”.
… I know from experience that young people have something special, which represents a great hope for the world.
Although you may be immersed, like everyone else, in the evils of our times, you, young people often have hearts and minds with antennas that can detect special wavelengths which others are not able to perceive. Your very age makes you free to entertain noble aspirations such as peace, justice, freedom, and unity, to dream of achievements which would appear utopian to others, to foresee in the third millennium the dawning of a new world, a better, happier world, one that is more worthy of the human person and more united.
We thank God that you exist!
But what do I want to say to you now?
My words are an echo of the words of Jesus which the Pope repeated to young people in 1995: “As the Father sent me, so I send you” (Jn. 20:21).
It’s an invitation to bring the light of truth into today’s society; to take up the challenge of what the Pope called a “new evangelization”.
A “new evangelization”!!
Why is it “new”? And what does “new” mean? It has a number of meanings and I will tell you about one of them.
You know that nowadays words are no longer enough. Young people, in particular’ don’t want to listen so much to teachers as to witnesses; they want to see facts. Well then, evangelization will be “new” if those who proclaim the Gospel are first of all genuine, authentic Christians, if they are the first to live what the Gospel teaches, so that people can say of them what was said of the first Christians: “See how they love one another and how they are ready to die for one another.”
Furthermore, evangelization will also be “new” if they love all other people, without distinction. And it will be “new” furthermore if these Christians love in practical ways by engaging in works that help give food, clothes, and shelter to those in need.
And finally, it will be new – and this is important – if they speak and announce the Gospel only after doing all this.
Christians of this kind, I assure you, make the life of Jesus attractive to people today, who grow in love for him, and so the kingdom of God spreads beyond all expectations and the Church is strengthened and grows.
It grows so much that these Christians can look far into the future, as Jesus did when he called everyone to universal fraternity, praying to the Father: “That they may all be one”.
It might seem a wild dream, but it’s possible because it is the dream of a God. And they believe in it. There are thousands, indeed millions of young people from all nations who are moving towards this very goal.
It is to them that John Paul II said: “People who look to the future are the ones who make history: the others are just in tow…
Dear young people, today the Pope’s words are addressed to all of you. Don’t disappoint him, don’t disappoint us. I wish you this with all my heart.
. John Paul II, Homily during Mass at the conclusion of the Genfest 1980, in L’Osservatore Romano” May 19-20, p. 1.