FAITH always has been transmitted best through example, but with young people constantly bombarded by images of all kinds, living models of a commitment to truth and love are more important than ever, Pope Francis said.
Welcoming dozens of school children on November 14 to his morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives, Pope Francis’ homily was a mix of a dialogue with them and an admonition to their parents and teachers.
“We all have a responsibility to give the best that we have,” the Pope said, “and the best that we have is the faith. Give it to them, but give it to them through your example.”
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis said that “in this world of images”, where most young people had a smartphone, tablet or computer, “words don’t work. Examples! Examples!”
The day’s first Scripture reading, from the Second Letter of John, spoke about the beauty of “children walking in the truth” and keeping God’s command to love one another.
Pope Francis asked the adults at the Mass, “Do we teach them what we have heard in the first reading: to walk in love and in truth? Or do we teach them with words, while our lives go in another direction?”
“These young people are a responsibility for us,” he said. “A Christian must take care of young people, children, and transmit the faith to them, transmit to them what is living, what is in your hearts.”
Young people, he said, were “small plants that grow”, and no Christian adult can ignore them.
Turning to the kids, Pope Francis asked them why they came to the early-morning Mass. Vatican Radio said that, after some hesitation, one spoke up and said, “To see you.”
The Pope responded that he was pleased to see the young people there, but he said, “You also came to see Jesus. Right? Or do we set Jesus aside?” At that point, the radio reported, the children shouted, “No!”
“Now,” the Pope told them, “Jesus will come on the altar and we will all see him. It is Jesus,” present in the consecrated bread and wine.
“Let us ask Jesus to teach us to walk in truth and love,” the Pope said.