Pope Francis celebrates Mass for young people Friday evening in Bangkok’s Cathedral. A strong faith based on a deep friendship with Jesus, he says, will see them through life’s difficulties, as their elders testify.
“The Lord knows that through you, young people, the future is coming into this land and the world, and he is counting on you to carry out your mission today,” the Pope told the youth at a Mass in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Bangkok.
He reflected on the day’s Gospel of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, saying it can happen to any Christian. “Full of excitement and interest,” he explained, “we hear the Lord’s call to be a part of His kingdom and share His joy with others.”
But often, he noted, in the face of problems and obstacles like the suffering of our loved ones, or our own helplessness before apparently hopeless situations, unbelief and bitterness can take over and silently seep into our dreams, making our hearts grow cold, causing us to lose our joy and to arrive late, like the five foolish virgins in the parable.
The Pope thus offered his advice to young people how to keep alive the fire that keeps them burning brightly amid darkness and difficulties, how to answer to the Lord’s call and how to obtain the oil that can keep them moving forward, seeking the Lord in every situation.
Wisdom of the elders
For this, they need to be deeply rooted in the faith of their ancestors: their parents, grandparents and teachers.
Amidst life’s many trials and much suffering, the Pope said, our elders discovered that the secret to a happy heart is the security we find when we are anchored, rooted in Jesus: in his life, in his words, in his death and resurrection.
The Pope said it is impossible for us to grow unless we have strong roots to support us and to keep us firmly grounded.
Without this firm sense of rootedness, young people can be swayed by the “voices” of this world, leaving them only empty, weary, alone and disenchanted, slowly extinguishing that spark of life that the Lord once lit in the heart of each of us.
Friendship with Jesus
The Pope regards Thailand’s young Catholics as a new generation, with new hopes, dreams and questions, and surely some doubts as well, yet firmly rooted in Christ.
“Friendship cultivated with Jesus,” the Pope said, “is the oil needed to light up your path in life and the path of all those around you: your friends and neighbours, your companions at school and work, including those who think completely unlike yourselves.”
Friday’s evening Mass was the last major event of Pope Francis in Thailand before he flies to Japan Saturday morning, on the second leg of his 32nd foreign Apostolic Journey.
Hence, at the end of the Mass, the Pope thanked all who made his visit to Thailand possible, and “those who worked together to bring it to fruition”.
In particular, he expressed his gratitude to His Majesty King Rama X, the government and the other authorities of the country, for their warm reception.
He also thanked the country’s bishops, especially Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, as well as the priests, men and women religious, and lay faithful, and in especially the young people.
The Holy Father also had words of gratitude for the volunteers and also all those who accompanied him with their prayers and sacrifices, especially the sick and those in prison.