The First Anniversary Celebration of the Syro-Malabar Apostolic Exarchate and Declaration of the Youth Year 2016-2017
Message of H.E. Msgr. Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio
Mississauga, October 1, 2016
With pleasure, I welcome the invitation of your Bishop, H.E. Msgr. Jose Kalluvelil, to speak to you at the beginning and to inaugurate the YOUTH YEAR of the Syro-Malabar Apostolic Exarchate, Mississauga, Canada.
I wish to address myself first to the young people. But not only – My words are also for those of you who want to remain young… to all of you! Youth, in fact, is more a dimension of the spirit than age. An example? Look at Pope Francis!
In this YOUTH YEAR that you are opening and which can be an excellent continuation of the Year of Mercy, I take the liberty to suggest to you a grace to ask for and a goal to reach: to experience or to become more aware of the loving (see 1 John 4:16) presence of God in your life. Yes, because to discover or to re-discover that God is Love is the greatest adventure of modern man. Is it not perhaps because we do not know God – God, who is Love – that in this world of ours there are many things that are ugly and sad, that we do not like, that make us suffer?
We know that the One who revealed to us that God is Love is Jesus Christ. But pay close attention: Jesus did not come into the world only to show us by his life that God is Love. He came so that we may partake in the love of God. In fact: “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (cf. Rom 5:5).
Yes, dear friends: on the day of our Baptism, the very love of God was planted in us, within us. We were baptized in “the name”, that is, in the Love of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We must welcome this love and make it grow: through daily prayer and by partaking in the Sacraments, in particular the Eucharist and Confession.
And what happens if we welcome God’s love and allow this love to grow? We become – ever more – like Him. Like an iron bar, thrust into the fire, it acquires the thermal “properties” of the flame and transmits them to its surroundings, emanating light and heat, so do we, if we are “lit” by the Charity of Christ that the Spirit spreads into our hearts: we become capable of spreading His same love. Indeed we become capable to love “like” Him (see John 13:34), for it is the Lord himself who loves in us (see John 15:1 – 6). For this reason whoever encounters us, should encounter Him.
Now, with reference to two fundamental aspects of the Christian life – which are love and freedom – allow me to indicate three great “mystifications” that nowadays are infiltrating the mentality of many young people and leading to grave problems:
- The mis-interpretation of the concept of sin, which is no longer considered a mortal poison on which God has written: “avoid it!” On the contrary, it is been sold as a “prohibited good” by a despotic lord-and-master. Consequently, transgression is exalted: “step out of line if you wish to be yourself”, it is claimed. But beyond these sneaky ideological trappings, what remains true is that sin is an evil that generates evil, and that inevitably leaves ashes and ruins in its wake. It is your task to proclaim the truth fearlessly (cf. Ephesians 6:20) and, by staying close to the Lord’s teachings, to call good “good”, and evil “evil”: always and everywhere, at any cost.
- The confusion between freedom and spontaneity. The slogan that gets around in many youth circles goes something like this: “do as you wish and let yourself be transported by what you feel.” In this logic of “yes, if it pleases you”; “no, if it’s going to cost you” what is missing is authentic discernment. We become like “infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery” (cf. Eph 4: 14). By acting as “freemen” we become slaves.
“It’s been a while since I have stopped running after myself and have begun to look for Jesus,” a girl once wrote me. And I answered her: “then Freedom has truly entered your house (see John 8:31-36): make room for it and invite others, that they might also be enamoured by it!” Then I added, quoting St. Augustine: however, remember that “you will be free if you make yourself a servant; free from sin, a servant of justice.”
- The hedonistic falsification: when pleasure is sold as happiness. Pope Francis puts it this way: “But when we opt for ease and convenience, for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price indeed: we lose our freedom… This is the high price we pay. There are so many people who do not want the young to be free; there are so many people who do not wish you well, who want you to be drowsy and dull, and never free! No, this must not be so! We must defend our freedom!” (cf. Address of Pope Francis, Vigil, World Youth Day, July 30, 2016). [https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2016/july/documents/papa-francesco_20160730_polonia-veglia-giovani.html]
About happiness, after Pope Francis, I like to quote Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who used to say: “When I see someone sad I always think that he is refusing something to Jesus”. It was in giving Jesus whatever He asked that she found her deepest and lasting joy.
My dear young people, on this auspicious occasion of inaugurating the “Youth Year” in the Syro Malabar Exarchate of Mississauga, Canada, I would like to set before you Jesus Christ as the treasure of your souls and I invite you to begin by going to Him. Let this be your first step: go to Jesus!
Do you want to consult friends? Go to Jesus because he is a “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Pro.18:24). Do you feel unworthy due to sin? Go to Jesus! He “will wash you as white as snow” (Is. 1:18). Do you feel depressed? Go to Jesus. He will never drive away any who approach him (Jn 6:37). Do you desire to experience true love and a greater love? Go to Jesus! Do you yearn for freedom, for true freedom? Go to Jesus (see John 8:36; Gal 5:13).
I assure you: if you will let the Spirit of Jesus work in you and through you, He will write in you a glorious history, a history worthy to be read and capable of producing a momentum towards what is better, in the years to come. The world is longing for this!
With these prayerful wishes I solemnly declare this public meeting and the Youth Year inaugurated.