August 17, 2018


Pope’s words to young people should speak loudly to all of us

It’s not hard to understand why so many people grow disheartened by the challenges they see and hear about in our fractured world on a daily basis.

Though life may be good—for the most part—for many of us in the U.S., there are still millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ in America who are unemployed or underemployed, have inadequate or no shelter, and struggle to find food to eat on a daily basis.

Walk certain streets in many cities, including downtown Indianapolis on an evening, and a sobering snapshot of homeless individuals will greet you. The empty expression on some of those faces makes many of us question how, in 2018, such sadness and loneliness can still so clearly and painfully exist?

Widen the picture around the globe, and you see similar circumstances and heartache.

For some, especially in developing countries, there are jobs, but they pay extremely low, outrageous, some would even say criminally, negligent wages. There are other people being forced to flee from their homeland, and Christians and other people of faith being persecuted—and even killed—for their beliefs.

What’s a person of faith to do when they see and hear of these things?

Not sit silently in indifference, but follow young people’s example of being “dynamic, passionate and courageous” disciples.

Many times, Christians can be tempted to “think they are saints” and justify themselves by saying, “I don’t harm anyone,” the pope told a group of young people before reciting the Angelus at the Vatican on Aug. 12.

“How many people do not do evil, but also do not do good, and their lives flow into indifference, apathy and tepidity! This attitude is contrary to the Gospel, and is also contrary to the character of you young people who, by your very nature, are dynamic, passionate and courageous,” Pope Francis said.

Even though his message was geared toward thousands of young adults on a pilgrimage as part of the Italian Church’s preparation for October’s Synod of Bishops on young people and vocational discernment, we can all use the pope’s words as our blueprint for being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.

“If we do not oppose evil, we feed it tacitly. It is necessary to intervene where evil spreads; because evil spreads where there are no daring Christians who oppose with good, ‘walking in love’ [Eph 5:2], according to the warning of St. Paul,” the pope said.

If we want to be true missionary disciples, it is incumbent upon each of us each day to love others through good works and deeds, Pope Francis told the young people.

In his talk before the recitation of the Angelus, the pope also reminded the young men and women to live their lives “in a coherent way, not with hypocrisy” by renouncing evil and doing good.

“To renounce evil means saying ‘no’ to temptation, to sin, to Satan,” the pope said. “More concretely, it means saying ‘no’ to a culture of death that manifests itself in escaping from reality toward a false happiness that expresses itself in lies, fraud, injustice and in contempt of others.”

Those truths remind us that living as disciples of Christ means doing things that today many would consider countercultural.

“It isn’t enough to not hate, you need to forgive; it isn’t enough to not hold a grudge, you need to pray for your enemies; it isn’t enough to not be the cause of division, you need to bring peace where there is none; it isn’t enough to not speak ill of others, you need to interrupt when you hear someone bad-mouthing another,” the pope said.

May we follow the Holy Father’s message for young people and be “protagonists of good.” And may we live the words of St. Alberto Hurtado, a Jesuit priest who served the poor in Chile before his death in 1952: “It is good to not do evil, but it is evil to not do good.”

—Mike Krokos

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