Pope attends delivers message for participants of Italian Alpha Camp
Dear young friends, good morning and welcome!
You are young people who come from Italy and other countries of Europe. You were born into a world that we speak of as “secularized,” meaning that our culture is more influenced by the realities of this world than by the dimension of the sacred. Nonetheless, deep within the human heart there is always a thirst for something greater, for the infinite. You too, who have grown up with instant information, are asking the great questions that arise in every age. Where do we come from? What is at the origin of all that exists? What is the meaning of my life? But also: Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why do little children and innocent people suffer as they do? You should know that God loves questions; in a way, he loves questions more than answers. Why? Obviously, because the answers are closed, while the questions are open. A person who only lives on answers is a person used to being closed, closed, closed. A person who lives on questions is a person used to being open, open, open. And God loves questions. Jesus asked the first two young people who followed him one day on the banks of the Jordan: “What are you looking for?” (Jn1:38). A question. Everybody should ask that question: What am I looking for? If you ask that question, it means that you are young, even if you are 80 years old. If you don’t ask it, you are old, even if you are only 20. Am I right?
Last week I was in Canada, where I visited the indigenous peoples whose ancestors lived in those lands before the colonization. They are guardians of ancestral values and traditions, yet they live in a country that is very modern and very secularized. Looking at you, I thought of the young men and women of those indigenous peoples. They are very different from yourselves, yet also very similar; I would even say that they are just like you. Just like you in the sense of being human, of sharing in the things that make us human, such as our relationship with God, with others, with creation and with ourselves, in freedom, generosity and self-giving. All those relationships are a sign that we are somehow “incomplete:” we long for fulfilment, fullness of life, joy and meaning. And Jesus Christ is fullness: all of us are unfinished, on the road, making a journey. We need to be aware of that.
That is why, a few years ago, I decided to write a long letter to the young people of the world. I started with these words: “Christ is alive! He is our hope. In a wonderful way, he brings youth to our world and everything he touches becomes young, new and full of life. … Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive! He is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you, and he waits for you to return to him and start over again. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope” (Christus Vivit, 1-2).