Pope, as 'grandfather,' urges Myanmar's young to love and serve

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

YANGON, Myanmar (CNS) — Before ending his visit to Myanmar,
Pope Francis turned to the nation’s young Catholics, urging them to pursue
lives of faith, hope and love.

Celebrating Mass Nov. 30 in Yangon’s St. Mary’s Cathedral,
the pope asked the youths to serve their tiny church and their struggling
nation with prayer, solidarity and a defense of human rights.

The cathedral was packed full of teenagers and young adults,
many of whom were wearing traditional outfits. Despite their numbers, the
atmosphere was hushed except for the chirping of birds in the trees outside the
open windows.

Thousands of young people also filled the gardens
surrounding the cathedral, hoping for a close-up encounter with the pope.

In his homily, Pope Francis, whose 81st birthday was less
than three weeks away, said he wanted to speak to the young as a grandfather.

The Bible, he told them, “asks us to think about our
place in God’s plan” and to proclaim God’s love and mercy.

“As messengers of this good news, you are ready to
bring a word of hope to the church, to your own country, and to the wider
world.” he said. “You are ready to bring good news to your suffering
brothers and sisters who need your prayers and your solidarity, but also your
enthusiasm for human rights, for justice and for the growth of that love and
peace which Jesus brings.”

Pope Francis’ grandfatherly advice to them was to find a
place away from the noise and distractions of modern life where they could
learn to listen to God in prayer. And he encouraged them to rely on the help of
the saints, who were men and women who made mistakes but learned to trust in
God’s mercy.

“You know that Jesus is full of mercy,” the pope
told the young people. “So share with him all that you hold in your
hearts: your fears and your worries, as well as your dreams and your hopes.

“Cultivate your interior life, as you would tend a
garden or a field,” the pope continued. “This takes time; it takes patience.
But like a farmer who waits for the crops to grow, if you wait the Lord will
make you bear much fruit, a fruit you can then share with others.”

Finally, Pope Francis told them, be young and be bold.

“Do not be afraid to make a ruckus, to ask questions
that make people think,” he said. “And don’t worry if sometimes you
feel that you are few and far between. The Gospel always grows from small
beginnings. So make yourselves heard.”

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