Pope Francis meets the members of the “Conference of Young Syro-Malabar Leaders” during their pilgrimage to Rome, and encourages them to follow Jesus and be inspired by the example of Mary.
By Lisa Zengarini
Meeting the pilgrims of the “Conference of Young Syro-Malabar Leaders” on Saturday, Pope Francis invited them to follow Jesus by saying “yes” to a life of service and responsibility, and “no” to a life of superficiality and dissipation.
Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is one of the two autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches (sui iuris) Churches in India, in full communion with the Pope, the other being the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
It is the third largest sui juris Church of the Catholic Church and the second largest Eastern Catholic Church after the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, with some 4.25 million followers worldwide.
More than half of them live in the Indian state of Kerala, where the Church dates back to the first century after the preaching of St. Thomas the Apostle and where the Church is still based.
Say “yes” to a life of service and responsibility
Addressing some 75 young leaders of the various Syro-Malabar eparchies in the Diaspora and the Apostolic Visitation to Europe, Pope Francis noted that as Christians our wish is to follow Jesus and “walk in his path of love, the only path that leads to eternal life.”
Although not easy, he says, this path “is exciting” and “gives meaning to our lives. It gives us the strength to say “yes” to a life of service and responsibility, and “no” to a life of superficiality and dissipation.
Testify of the love given by the Saints
Referring to the 1950th anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Thomas, Pope Francis reminded young Syro-Malabar leaders that the Church is apostolic “because it is founded on the testimony of the Apostles, and continues to grow not by proselytism, but by testimony. ”
He therefore called them to bear witness to the love given by the saints in all ages, first among their peers in the Syro-Malabar diaspora, but also among those who do not belong to their communities”, and even those “who do not belong to know the Lord Jesus”.
Christianity is not a series of prohibitions
This love, Pope Francis noted, “shows – more than any word – that Christianity does not consist of a series of prohibitions that stifle the desire for happiness, but of a life project capable of fulfilling every human heart”.
Step away from the “couch” of comfort
Pope Francis further encouraged young Indian pilgrims to follow Mary’s example, referring to the theme of the upcoming World Youth Days in Lisbon: ‘Mary got up and went away in haste’, taken from the Gospel of Luke in which the Mother of God rushes to announce the Good News to Elizabeth.
He noted that “Mary did not allow herself to be paralyzed by pride or fear, after receiving the angel’s message”.
Cultivate relationships with older generations
Pope Francis also noted that the encounter between Mary and Elisabeth is an inspiring example of “the importance and fruitfulness of the encounter between young and old.”
He encouraged young leaders to nurture their relationships with their aging parents and make good use of their wisdom, stressing that older generations play a crucial role in transmitting the faith.
[ If you, young people, want to make your own lives a canticle of praise, a gift for all humanity, you must be grounded in the tradition and prayer of past generations. ]
In conclusion, Pope Francis emphasized that Mary “also teaches us to live Eucharistically,” that is, to give thanks, to cultivate praise, and not to fixate ourselves only on problems and difficulties.
“As you go through life, today’s earnest requests become tomorrow’s prayers of thanksgiving,” he said.