My dear young people of the entire Salesian world, dear girls and dear boys,
I greet you as a friend, brother and father; I address you this greeting on behalf of Don Bosco, as I come to you “knocking at the door of your life” on the occasion of the feast of our Beloved Father.
A few days ago Pope Francis wrote a letter to the youth on the occasion of the presentation of the document that will be used to prepare the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in October 2018. At the beginning of His letter, the Pope tells you, “I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart.” I know well, from my personal experience, what it means to carry you in my heart and to express every good wish, even if in many cases we have not yet had the possibility of greeting each other personally.
May I tell you something in confidence? Often, when I encounter you, young friends, in the various parts of the world and I must address you, I think what Don Bosco would tell you on behalf of Jesus.
I am aware of the great diversity existing among you according to the nations and continents in which you live; diversities also of culture, diversities for the type of preparation for life, some with studies of vocational training or of qualification for a profession, others through university studies. I am aware that the situation of those who can count on human and economic resources to develop their talents is different from the one of those who lack these opportunities, etc. But I am convinced that your young hearts have so much to share and that, despite the differences, they are very similar to one another, and because of this I think I can address you a common message that reaches you wherever you are.
The message I send you today is in full harmony with the one that on various occasions Pope Francis asked you: “Dear Young Friends, I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage to ‘swim against the tide’.”
Many are the adults who have full confidence in you. I am one of them, my dear young friends, and I invite you to be courageous in your life. I spur you to have the strength to “swim against the tide”, when the call to be faithful to yourself and to Jesus resounds in your hearts.
Today the world needs you. It needs the great ideals that are proper of your youth and of your juvenile dreams. The world, now more than ever, is in need of young people who are full of hope and courage, who are not afraid of living, dreaming, looking for that authentic and profound happiness through which God dwells in your heart. Young people who have the will to commit themselves and who are capable of committing themselves and of loving “to the point of suffering”, as Mother Theresa of Calcutta, now a Saint, said. Young people who, under the spur of their commitment, are capable to donate their time and even to donate themselves.
Regretfully however, there are may young people who are “tired, bored or disappointed”, or young people who never felt enthusiastic for anything, young people who are week and frail. These youth need other youth; they need you who, speaking of the experience and with a language that comes from life, may show them that there are other ways and other possibilities. Young people who help them to really understand that fleeing from the challenges of life is never the solution; young people who also as true disciples-missionaries, help them to discover Jesus in their life and to believe in Him. A Jesus who, obviously, “does not sell you illusions”, but who offers Life, the authentic one, His own Life, His very Self.
I think, my dear youth, that on this 31st of January 2017 Don Bosco could tell you something so simple, with the words and language of today, as the Pope did in His letter: “Do not be afraid … A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master.”
I wish with all my heart that it may be so for you: that you may be capable to risk, when it comes to Jesus and to God the Father in your life. You will never lack his Presence through the Spirit and it will be a certain guarantee for your human journey of happiness.
I greet you with sincere affection and wish you a happy feast of Don Bosco and the ever maternal protection of our Mother help of Christians.