Dear brothers and sisters!
For those that lived in Cologne last week, it was truly an extraordinary ecclesial experience to mark World Youth Day, with the participation of a huge number of youth from all parts of the world accompanied by many bishops, priests, and men and women religious. It was a providential event of grace for the entire Church.
Speaking to bishops of Germany shortly before my return to Italy, I said the youth have launched an appeal to their pastors, and in a way to all believers, a message which is at the same time an appeal: “Help us to be disciples and witnesses of Christ. Like the Magi, we have come to worship him.” The youth left Cologne to return to their cities and nations animated by a great hope without however losing sight of the not inconsiderable difficulties, obstacles and problems which accompany a genuine search for Christ and faithful adherence to his Gospel in our times.
Not only youth, but communities and their pastors also, should take note of a fact which is fundamental for evangelization: where God does not take first place, where he is not recognized and worshipped as the Supreme Good, human dignity is undermined. This is why it is urgent to lead mankind today to “discover” the true face of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ. In this way, even mankind of our time will be able, as the Magi did, to prostrate themselves before him and worship him. As I talked to German bishops, I recalled that adoration is not “a luxury but a priority.” Searching for Christ must be the incessant craving of believers, of youth and adults, of the faithful and their pastors. This search should be encouraged, sustained and guided. Faith is not simply adherence to a set of dogmas complete in itself, which would suppress the thirst for God present in the human soul.
On the contrary, it projects man on a journey in time towards a God who is always new in his infiniteness. So the Christian is at the same time one who seeks and one who finds. It is precisely this which makes the Church young, open to the future, rich in hope for all humanity.
St Augustine, whose memory we mark today, makes some stupendous reflections about the invitation in Psalm 104, “Quaerite faciem eius semper – Seek always his face.” He notes that this invitation is valid not only for this life: it applies also to eternity. The discovery of the “face of God” is never exhausted. The more we enter into the splendour of divine love, the more beautiful it is to proceed with the search, so that “amore crescente inquisitio crescat inventi – in the measure in which love grows, the search for He who has been found grows.” (Enarr. in Ps. 104,3: CCL 40, 1537).
This is the experience to which we too aspire in the depth of our hearts. This is obtained for us by the intercession of the great Bishop of Hippo; it is obtained for us by the maternal help of Mary, Star of Evangelization, who we invoke now in the Angelus prayer.