In his address to the Catholic “World Youth Day”, hosted in July 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis I offered this challenge to the youth community of the Church who gathered to hear it:
… Jesus did not say: “if you would like to, if you have the time”, but: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of himself, but the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as free men, as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.
What an inspiring message to anybody of ‘youthful’ years to hear! The theme here is clear; it is neither the prerogative or the responsibility of the Church’s leadership to interpret or orchestrate others in the spreading of the Gospel message. That happy responsibility falls upon us all and, given the fullness of life ahead of them, there is no better-positioned sector of our community to hear this message than than the ‘young’. May they remain forever young-at-heart in the task, and may the rest of us ensure they have the needed support and the freedom-to-operate in their endeavors.