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BRZEGI, Krakow – World Youth Day in Kraków culminated in Sunday Mass, during which Pope Francis challenged youth to imitate Zacchaeus in overcoming obstacles to encountering Christ.
The 31 July 2016 Mass took place in a field in Brzegi, nine miles from the centre of Kraków, and over one million were in attendance, according to the Holy See Press Office.
Zacchaeus, the Pope preached, faced three obstacles: “smallness of stature,” “the paralysis of shame,” and “the grumbling of the crowd.”
Reflecting on the first obstacle, the Pope called upon young people to remember that “our real stature” is that “we are God’s beloved children, always …God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you, just as you are! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.”
Turning to the “paralysis of shame,” the Pope said:
Dear young friends, don’t be ashamed to bring everything to the Lord in confession, especially your weaknesses, your struggles and your sins. He will surprise you with his forgiveness and his peace. Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to him with all your heart, to respond generously and to follow him! Don’t let your soul grow numb, but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice. Say a firm “no” to the narcotic of success at any cost and the sedative of worrying only about yourself and your own comfort.
Reflecting on the grumbling of the crowd, Pope Francis said that people will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad. Instead, our heavenly Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Mt 5:45). He demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies. People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7). People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded.
“Jesus looks beyond the faults and sees the person. He does not halt before bygone evil, but sees future good. His gaze remains constant, even when it is not met; it seeks the way of unity and communion,” said Francis.
As the Lord wished to stay in Zacchaeus’ house, so he “wants to enter your homes, to dwell in your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams,” the Pope continued.
He added: How greatly he desires that you bring all this to him in prayer! How much he hopes that, in all the “contacts” and “chats” of each day, pride of place be given to the golden thread of prayer! How much he wants his word to be able to speak to you day after day, so that you can make his Gospel your own, so that it can serve as a compass for you on the highways of life. – CWN