Pope Francis held an Interreligious meeting with young people in Maputo and told them they are “the joy of this land, the joy of our time”.
The encounter began with a series of questions: How can we young people turn our dreams into reality? How can we help solve the problems afflicting our country? How can we write a new page in the history of Mozambique?
Pope Francis surprised his young listeners by telling them they had already provided answers to their own questions when they proudly expressed themselves, at the start of the encounter, through their artistic, musical, and cultural performances. “In all of this”, said the Pope, “we see a variety of ways to bring the world together and to look to the horizon: with eyes full of hope, full of the future, full of dreams”.
Resignation and perseverance
There are two attitudes that kill hopes and dreams, continued Pope Francis: “resignation and anxiety”. The Pope called these attitudes “the great enemies of life” because they “propel us along an easy but self-defeating path”.
A positive example of perseverance, said the Pope, is Mozambican football player, Eusébio da Silvia. His passion for the game helped him to “keep dreaming and moving forward…despite having plenty of reasons to give up”.
Another is athlete, Maria Mutola, an Olympic gold medalist. Her titles never let her forget her people or her roots, said the Pope, as she “continued to look out for the needy children of Mozambique”. Sport, he added, “teaches us to persevere in our dreams”.
Playing as a team
Pope Francis then stressed the importance of “playing as a team”. Referring to the interreligious character of the gathering, he noted how those present “come from different traditions” and speak different languages, “but this has not stopped us”, he said, “from being here together as a group”.
The Pope responded directly to the young peoples’ question about what they can do for their country when he reminded them always to work “together”. Families and countries, he said, are destroyed by discord and enmity: “and the greatest enmity of all is war”. He quoted an old proverb that says: “If you want to get somewhere in a hurry, walk alone. If you want to go far, walk with others”.
Older generations, continued Pope Francis, “have much to tell you and offer you” because “they are our roots”. The elderly, he said, “can help your dreams and aspirations from fading and faltering at the first experience of difficulty”, which is why it is important to listen to, and to appreciate, “those who have gone before you”.
Pope Francis noted how many of the young people present at the gathering in the Maxaquene Stadium were born “at a time of peace”. Encouraging them to be part of that peace process, the Pope used the image of “outstretched hands” to stress the importance of growing in friendship “with those who think differently than you”. This, he said, is “the best weapon to change the course of history”.
The outstretched hand also reminds us of the need to care for the earth, added the Pope, before recalling the “ecological disaster” wrought by cyclones Idai and Kenneth earlier this year. Many young people, he said, “have already taken up the challenge of protecting our common home”. This, he added, is “a beautiful dream to cultivate together, as a family, a great challenge that can keep you united”.
The simple and silent love of God
Pope Francis concluded his conversation with the young people of Mozambique by reminding them of the “simple, silent and discreet love of God” for each one of them. “Try to keep still for a moment and let yourself feel His love”, said the Pope. “Try to silence all the noise within, and rest for a second in His loving embrace”.
“I know that you believe in this love that makes reconciliation possible”, concluded the Pope. “And because you believe in this love, I am certain that you are hopeful and that you will not fail to walk joyfully in the ways of peace”.