VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Don’t fall for hate and fearmongering from others; make new friends instead and always help and show concern for others, Pope Francis told the world’s teens.
“Be brave and go against the tide, be friends of Jesus, who is the prince of peace,” he said in a written message for the Jubilee of Mercy for Young People, scheduled to be celebrated in Rome and dioceses around the world April 23-25.
In his written message, released by the Vatican Jan. 14, the pope said the Year of Mercy is open to everyone so they may experience “a time of grace, peace, conversion and joy.”
God invites everyone, he said, because “there are no walls or distances which can prevent the father’s mercy from reaching and embracing us.”
While three days in April have been set aside for those between 13 and 16 years of age, every day of the jubilee year marks “a chance for us to grow in holiness.”
It is also a time to realize “that life together as brothers and sisters is like a great party, perhaps the most beautiful party we can imagine, the endless party that Jesus has taught us to celebrate by his Spirit.”
However, the pope said, “I cannot forget those of you who are living in situations of war, extreme poverty, daily troubles and loneliness. Don’t ever lose hope! The Lord has a great dream which, with your help, he wants to come true.”
Other young people around the world have not forgotten about those who are less fortunate and they “are working for peace and justice for everyone everywhere,” he said.
“Don’t be taken in by the messages of hatred or terror all around us. Instead, make new friends. Give of your time and always show concern for those who ask your help,” he said.
Pope Francis reminded young people that preparing for a pilgrimage or jubilee celebration didn’t just mean getting backpacks and banners ready, “but your hearts and minds as well.”
He urged them to grow closer to Jesus and draw nourishment from the sacraments. Becoming more merciful during the Year of Mercy means not only growing “in a love which is courageous, generous and real,” it is means greater spiritual growth, too.
“You are preparing to be Christians capable of making courageous decisions in order to build daily, even through little things, a world of peace,” he said.