The following paragraphs are from Pope Francis’s address to the young people of Korea and Asia. He gives a vision for rediscovering the heart of the Church.
That heart is in love: love of God leading to love of neighbor, and God’s love for us. True love of God causes us to draw close to one another, and close to those who are most in need of God’s love. We cry out, “Lord, help me,” and as we receive his love, we learn to reach out to those who cry out for help.
This doesn’t mean setting aside beautiful liturgy, hard moral teachings, or anything else that marks “conservative” Catholicism. It means finding the heart of those things, which is in love of God and love of neighbor. Love draws us to worship. Love draws us to live the fullness of the moral law. But fancy worship and stern moralism without love simply isn’t Christianity.
Let us attend to the details – but also to what is essential.
As young Christians, whether you are workers or students, whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present! You are the Church’s present!
Keep close to one another, draw ever closer to God, and with your bishops and priests spend these years in building a holier, more missionary and humble Church – a holier, more missionary and humble Church! – a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized.
In your Christian lives, you will find many occasions that will tempt you, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, to push away the stranger, the needy, the poor and the broken-hearted. It is these people especially who repeat the cry of the woman of the Gospel: “Lord, help me!”. The Canaanite woman’s plea is the cry of everyone who searches for love, acceptance, and friendship with Christ.
It is the cry of so many people in our anonymous cities, the cry of so many of your own contemporaries, and the cry of all those martyrs who even today suffer persecution and death for the name of Jesus: “Lord, help me!” It is often a cry which rises from our own hearts as well: “Lord, help me!”
Let us respond, not like those who push away people who make demands on us, as if serving the needy gets in the way of our being close to the Lord. No! We are to be like Christ, who responds to every plea for his help with love, mercy and compassion.
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
CLOSING MASS OF THE SIXTH ASIAN YOUTH DAY
17 AUGUST 2014