After his visit to Fatima, Pope Francis was flown back to Lisbon in time for the Vigil with Young People, which took place at Tejo Park. Addressing the men and women present, the Pope reflected on Mary’s decision to visit her cousin Elizabeth after hearing she was pregnant. The Pope noted that Mary “arose and went with haste” not because she had to, but because she loved her cousin and wanted to share her joy. He stressed that “joy is missionary, joy is not just for one person, it is for sharing something with others”. He also stressed the importance of remembering the “roots” of our joy, namely “those who have been rays of light in our lives: parents, grandparents, friends, priests, religious men and women, catechists, youth leaders, teachers, and so on”. The following is the English text of the Holy Father’s words, which he shared in Spanish.
Dear brothers and sisters,
It gives me much joy to see all of you! Thank you for having made the pilgrimage to be here! I think of the Virgin Mary, who also travelled, in order to visit Elizabeth: “Mary set out and went with haste” (Lk 1:39). We might ask, why did Mary set out and go with haste to visit her cousin? Certainly, Mary had just learned that Elizabeth was pregnant, but so was she; so why go, if no one had asked her to? Mary does something that was not asked of her, and that she did not have to do. Mary goes because she loved, and “whoever loves flies, runs and rejoices” (The Imitation of Christ, iii, 5). That is what love does to us.
Mary’s joy is twofold: she had just received the angel’s message that she would welcome the Redeemer of the world, and she was also given the news that her cousin was pregnant. This is interesting: instead of thinking about herself, she thinks of the other. Why? Because joy is missionary, joy is not just for one person, it is for sharing something with others. Let me ask you: those of you here, who have come to meet others, to find Christ’s message, to find life’s beautiful meaning, will you keep all this for yourselves or will you share it with others? What do you think? Surely it is for sharing with others, because joy is missionary! Let us all repeat that, together: joy is missionary! And so we share this joy with others.
Yet, this joy we have, others have helped us to receive it. Let us look back, then, at all we have received, for it has prepared our hearts for joy. Each of us, if we cast our minds back, can recall those who have been rays of light in our lives: parents, grandparents, friends, priests, religious men and women, catechists, youth leaders, teachers, and so on. They are the “roots” of our joy. Let each of us now spend a few moments in silence to think of those who have given us something in life, who are like the roots of our joy…
Did faces and stories come to mind? The joy that has come to us, thanks to these roots, is what we in turn ought to share, because we have roots of joy. In the same way, we too can be roots of joy for others. It is not about bringing a fleeting joy, the joy of the moment; it is about bringing a joy that generates roots. Let us ask, how can we become roots of joy?
Joy is not to be found in a locked library, even though study is necessary! Joy lies somewhere else. It is not kept under lock and key, but must be sought, must be discovered. It has to be found in dialogue with others, where we share these roots of joy that we have received. And this, at times, is tiring. Let me ask you a question: do you sometimes get tired? Think about what happens when we become tired: we have no wish to do anything; we throw in the towel (as we say in Spanish), because we have no desire to carry on and we give up, stop walking and fall. Do you believe that those who fall in life, who have experienced failure, who even commit serious or grave mistakes, that their lives are over? No! So what are they to do? They are to get back up! Now there is something very profound that I would like you to take away with you and remember: those who come from the Alps, who like to climb mountains, have a very beautiful song that goes like this: “In the art of climbing the mountain, what matters isn’t not to fall, but not to remain fallen”. This is beautiful!
Those who remain fallen have already withdrawn from life, have shut down, closed off from hope and desire, and remain on the ground. And when we see any friends of ours who have fallen, what are we to do? Lift them up. When we need to lift someone up, or help them, do you notice how we are to do it? We look down on them. That is the only time, the only time that we are allowed to look down upon others, when we are offering to help them up. Yet, we often see people looking down on us, or over our shoulder, from above! How sad. Instead, the only way, the only situation in which it is permissible to look down on others is... well, you tell me, out loud: to help them up.
That, then, is something like how life’s journey proceeds, how we are to keep moving forwards. In life, in order to accomplish things, we have to train ourselves to journey on. Sometimes, we do not feel like carrying on, we do not feel like making the effort; we copy in exams because we do not feel like studying or we did not get the results we wanted. I am not sure if any of you like football… I do! Think of how much training is needed in order to score a goal; how much effort is required to achieve a certain result. In life, too, we cannot always do what we want, but we must do what leads us to respond to the vocation we sense deep within us — and everyone has their own vocation. Keep on walking. And if we fall, we get back up, or someone will help us get back up; let us not remain fallen; and let us train ourselves, train in order to keep moving forward. All this is possible, not because we take a course on walking — there are no courses that can teach us how to journey in life — instead we learn, we learn from our parents, our grandparents, we learn from friends, giving each other a helping hand. We learn about life, and that trains us in how to journey onwards.
I leave you with these thoughts. Carry on; if you fall, get back up; walk with a goal in mind, and train each day of your lives. Nothing is free in life, everything has to be paid for. Only one thing is free: the love of Jesus! So, with this free gift that we have — the love of Jesus — and with the desire to carry on the journey, let us walk in hope, let us be mindful of our roots, and move forwards, without fear. Do not be afraid. Thank you!