Pope: Madrid, capital of the world’s youth

» 08/19/2011 10:57

At the welcoming ceremony, Benedict XVI greets the young people present, but also those who have not come and calls all to rediscover faith in Christ “because his message of hope and love has echoed in the hearts of those who do not believe or have strayed from the Church”. The gifts of the youth, coffee, rice, bread and salt, a garland of flowers, a sombrero.

Madrid (AsiaNews) – “The great city of Madrid” is “now the capital of the world’s youth, upon which the entire Church turns her gaze” this is the definition given by Pope Benedict XVI to the Spanish capital, to his first meeting with the young people tonight in the welcoming ceremony in the central Plaza de Cibeles.

In fact, hundreds of thousands of young people from every continent gathered in the square and its side streets in colourful combinations for flags, shirts, hats, caps, handkerchiefs, scarves t to greet the pope from Rome who arrived this morning for a first meeting of prayer with him.
Earlier the pope had received the homage of the mayor of Madrid, who offered him the keys to the city. Benedict XVI thanked everyone, but especially young people “for the wonderful reception you have given me entering the city, a sign of your love and your closeness to the Successor of Peter.” He adds: “It is a joy to meet with you.”

The ceremony was very simple and moving. Five young people from the five different continents brought him gifts typical of their land bread and salt from Poland, coffee from South Africa , flowers from Japan, rice from Korea, a sombrero from the Americas.

The pope tried on the hat, wearing a garland of flowers, thanksing and looking out at all of “the world’s youth.” Firstly the endless sea of young people in front of him: ” Through your presence and your participation in these celebrations, – he says – the name of Christ will echo throughout this great City”. But he goes on: “Let us pray – he adds – that his message of hope and love will also resound in the hearts of those who are not believers or who have grown distant from the Church.”

And in his greetings in various languages – greeted by roars, singing and waving of flags – he goes on to invite all the young people present to “always search. Search especially for the truth, which is not an idea, an ideology or a slogan, but a Person, Christ, God Himself among men. ” And immediately after: “with my faith I also help others in the faith.”

Even in his first speech to young people, after the proclamation of the gospel, he greeted “with affection all who are gathered here … and even those who could not come. I and all those present pray for you always”.

Returning to the theme of World Youth Day this year (“Planted and built up in Christ, firm in the faith”) and commenting on the gospel of the house built on rock (Matthew 7:24-27), he called for the young people “welcome the words of Jesus and put them into practice. ”

“There are no words – he adds – which serve only to amuse, as fleeting as an empty breeze; others, to an extent, inform us; those of Jesus, on the other hand, must reach our hearts, take root and bloom there all our lives. If not, they remain empty and become ephemeral. They do not bring us to him and, as a result, Christ stays remote, just one voice among the many others around us which are so familiar”

Hence the invitation: ” Use these days to know Christ better and to make sure that, rooted in him, your enthusiasm and happiness, your desire to go further, to reach the heights, even God himself, always hold a sure future, because the fullness of life has already been placed within you. Let that life grow with divine grace, generously and without half-measures, as you remain steadfast in your aim for holiness .”

” If you build on solid rock,– he continued – not only your life will be solid and stable, but it will also help project the light of Christ shining upon those of your own age and upon the whole of humanity, presenting a valid alternative to all those who have fallen short, because the essentials in their lives were inconsistent; to all those who are content to follow fashionable ideas, they take shelter in the here and now, forgetting true justice, or they take refuge in their own opinions instead of seeking the simple truth”.

“Indeed, there are many who, creating their own gods, believe they need no roots or foundations other than themselves. They take it upon themselves to decide what is true or not, what is good and evil, what is just and unjust; who should live and who can be sacrificed in the interests of other preferences; leaving each step to chance, with no clear path, letting themselves be led by the whim of each moment. These temptations are always lying in wait. It is important not to give in to them because, in reality, they lead to something so evanescent, like an existence with no horizons, a liberty without God. We, on the other hand, know well that we have been created free, in the image of God, precisely so that we might be in the forefront of the search for truth and goodness, responsible for our actions, not mere blind executives, but creative co-workers in the task of cultivating and beautifying the work of creation. God is looking for a responsible interlocutor, someone who can dialogue with him and love him. Through Christ we can truly succeed and, established in him, we give wings to our freedom. Is this not the great reason for our joy? Isn’t this the firm ground upon which to build the civilization of love and life, capable of humanizing all of us?”.

And almost at the end says: ” Then you will be blessed and happy and your happiness will influence others. They will wonder what the secret of your life is and they will discover that the rock which underpins the entire building and upon which rests your whole existence is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God incarnate, who gives meaning to all the universe”.
The meeting ended with the singing of the Our Father in Latin, while hundreds of flags waved gently in the setting sun as evening fell on Madrid.