“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” is theme of this year’s Medjugorje Youth Festival taking place until August 6th.

In a message sent all gathered there in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Pope Francis entrusted them to Mary with a reminder that the week is a “week of prayer and encounter with Jesus Christ, especially in his living Word, in the Eucharist, in adoration and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”

“Have the courage to live your youth by entrusting yourselves to the Lord and setting out on a journey with him. Let yourself be conquered by his loving gaze that frees us from the seduction of idols, from false riches that promise life but cause death,” he continued. “Do not be afraid to welcome the Word of Christ and to accept his call.”

Pope Francis also outlined three steps to help young people grow spiritually and move towards eternal life. Read below:

Loving One’s Neighbor

The first step, indicated by Jesus, is “concrete love for one’s neighbor,” not the love given simply by the observance of precepts, rather a “gratuitous and total” love. 

Be Free From Attachments

Jesus changes the perspective: he invites him not to think of securing the afterlife, but to give everything in his earthly life, thus imitating the Lord. It is a call to further maturity, to pass from precepts observed to receive a reward, to one that is about love by giving freely without limit. Jesus asks him to leave behind all that weighs down the heart and hinders love. What Jesus recommends is not so much that everything be taken away as much as being free to love and rich in relationships with others. 

Having the Courage to Follow Jesus

Have the courage to live your youth by entrusting yourselves to the Lord and setting out with Him. Let yourselves be conquered by his loving gaze that frees us from the seduction of idols, from the false riches that promise life but bring death. Do not be afraid to welcome the Word of Christ and accept his call. Do not be discouraged like the rich young man in the Gospel; instead, fix your gaze on Mary, the great example of the imitation of Christ, and entrust yourselves to her who, with her affirmative response “Here I am”, answered unreservedly to the Lord’s call.\

Pope Francis ended his letter to the youth on a poignant note: “This event – as the experience of so many says – has the strength to set us on the path towards the Lord.”

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