Biggest danger in life is fear, settling for less, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

worst enemies in a young person’s life aren’t the problems they may face, Pope
Francis said.

The biggest dangers are being
unwilling to find a way to adapt, mediocrity by settling for the status quo,
and fear, he said at his general audience in St. Peter’s Square June 13.

“It is necessary to
ask the heavenly father for the gift of healthy restlessness for today’s young
people, the ability to not settle for a life without beauty, without color. If
young people are not hungry for an authentic life, where will humanity end
up?” he said.

As the pope spoke to the
crowd of 15,000 people, he was flanked on either side by 10 children wearing
bright yellow baseball caps. He had invited them to temporarily leave behind
their parish group pilgrimage in the square and follow him to the platform in
front of the basilica to be part of his VIP entourage for the morning.

The pope said he was
beginning a new series of audience talks on the Ten Commandments and how Jesus leads
people from the law to its fulfillment.

He asked people to reflect
on the reading from the Gospel of Mark and Jesus’ response to a young, wealthy
man who asked what was needed to inherit eternal life. This question reflects
the burning human desire for a full and dignified life, the pope said, but the
challenge is “how to get there? What path to take?”

Unfortunately, the pope said,
some people believe this restlessness, this desire to live a better life is too
dangerous and should be tamped down.

“I would like to say,
especially to young people, our worst enemy is not concrete problems” no
matter how serious or tragic they may be.

“The biggest danger in
life is a bad spirit of adapting that is not meekness or humility, but is
mediocrity, pusillanimity,” that is, cowardice or fear, and making the
excuse for doing nothing by saying, “that’s just the way I am.”

“Where will humanity
end up with young people who are tame (and) not restless?” he asked.

Referring to Blessed Pier
Giorgio Frassati’s insistence that it is better to live fully than to just get
by, the pope asked the crowd whether a kid who is “mediocre has a future
or not.” The pope agreed with their answer, “No. He just sits there.
He doesn’t grow” and mature.

Reaching maturity, he
said, is coming to realize and accept one’s limits, and it is also seeing what
is lacking in one’s life, just as Jesus said the rich young man: “You are
lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will
have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

This invitation to leave
behind everything and follow the Lord, is “not a proposal of poverty, but
of riches,” the real treasure of everlasting life, he said.

If told to choose between
having “the original” or just a copy, who would choose just a copy,
the pope asked.

“Here’s the
challenge: to find the original, not the copy. Jesus doesn’t offer substitutes,
but offers real life, real love, real wealth,” he said.

It is difficult to see why
young people would choose then to follow those Christians who are not choosing
“the original, if they see us putting up with half measures. It is
terrible to encounter Christians (who only go) halfway, dwarf Christians who
only grow a certain height and have a tiny, closed heart,” he said.

Young people need the
example of Christians who invite them to grow, “to go beyond” and
look for more.

“We have to start
from reality,” with the way things are, “in order to take that leap
into what is lacking. We have to scrutinize the ordinary in order to open
ourselves up to the extraordinary.”

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