World Youth Day – “Stand up, I appoint you as a witness of what you have seen”

For the annual World Youth Day (WYD) to be celebrated this year on Sunday, November 21, on the Solemnity of Christ the King, Pope Francis has called on the young people to arise and be Christ’s witnesses.

In his message for the 36th WYD the Pope promised to walk with the young people “on the spiritual pilgrimage that leads to the 2023 World Youth Day, in Lisbon, Portugal.

“When we embrace the new life bestowed on us in baptism, the Lord gives us an important and life-changing mission: “You are to be my witness,” said Pontiff’s message addressed to young people as he referenced Christ’s message to Apostle Paul saying, “Arise! Do not remain downcast or be caught up in yourself: a mission awaits you! You too can testify to what Jesus has begun to accomplish in your lives.”

Focusing on the theme for the 2021 WYD; “Stand up. I appoint you as a witness of what you have seen,” inspired by Jesus’s words in the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope said, “In Jesus’ name, I ask you, arise! Testify that you too were blind and encountered the light. You too have seen God’s goodness and beauty in yourself, in others and in the communion of the Church, where all loneliness is overcome.”

“Arise! Testify to the love and respect it is possible to instil in human relationships, in the lives of our families, in the dialogue between parents and children, between the young and the elderly,” Pope’s message continues, “Arise! Uphold social justice, truth and integrity, human rights. Protect the persecuted, the poor and the vulnerable, those who have no voice in society, immigrants.”

Encouraging the young people who are expected to mark this year’s WYD in their local Churches, the Pope asks them to be courageous in promoting care for creation saying, “Arise! Testify to the new way of looking at things that enables you to view creation with eyes brimming with wonder that makes you see the Earth as our common home, and gives you the courage to promote an integral ecology.”

Pope Francis acknowledged the presence of young people in the history of humanity whenever there is a need to begin a new telling them that, “We cannot begin anew without you, dear young people. If our world is to arise, it needs your strength, your enthusiasm, your passion.”

“Whenever a young person falls, in some sense all humanity falls. Yet it is also true that when a young person rises, it is as if the whole world rises as well.  Young people, what great potential you have in your hands! What great strength you have in your hearts,” he shares his observations.

He further highlighted that the pandemic that has made so many suffer the loss of loved ones and social isolation has been a setback for young people too whose “life is naturally directed outwards: to school or university, to work and social gatherings.”

“You found yourselves in difficult situations that you were not used to facing. Those who found it harder, or lacked support, felt disoriented. We saw a rise in family problems, unemployment, depression, loneliness and addictive behaviour, to say nothing of growing stress, tensions, outbursts of anger and increased violence,” he said.

Adding that “We thank God, this was only one side of the coin. The experience showed us our fragility, but it also revealed our virtues, including our inclination to solidarity.  All over the world, we saw great numbers of individuals, including many young people, helping to save lives, sowing seeds of hope, upholding freedom and justice, and acting as peacemakers and bridge builders.”

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