By Hannah Brockhaus
Worldly possessions do not make people happy; only knowing Jesus’ love and having love for others can do that, Pope Francis told a group of Catholic European scouts on Saturday.
Jesus “gives you what no thing can give you; because the latest smartphone, the fastest car or the fashionable dress, besides never being enough, will never give you the joy of feeling loved and also the joy of loving,” the pope said Aug. 3.
“This is true joy: to feel yourself loved and to love.”
Pope Francis met Aug. 3 with around 5,000 Catholic scouts in the Vatican’s Pope Paul VI hall. The meeting was the culmination of a weeklong walking pilgrimage to Rome, called “Euromoot.”
The theme of the trek was “Parate Viam Domini,” which means “prepare the way of the Lord.”
Some of the scouts walked to Rome by the Way of St. Francis from Assisi, while others chose to walk the Way of St. Benedict or part of the medieval Via Francigena. Priests walked with the different scout troops to provide access to the sacraments throughout the pilgrimage.
The scout troops of “rangers” and “rovers” aged 16-21 came from more than 20 countries. Some members of the organization’s North American branch, the Federation of North American Explorers, also participated in the pilgrimage.
In his message, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel’s instruction to: “Give and it will be given to you.” These are “simple words that set a clear course,” he said.
Today, for example, many people think only about “having.” But this never satisfies, because having possessions only leads to wanting more possessions.
The heart, he said, becomes strong through a life of self-gift; instead, having or desiring many possessions only weighs the heart down.
Francis encouraged the scouts to be courageous in living their lives for others – each in accordance with his or her unique talents. He pointed to Venerable Carlo Acutis as an example of a young person who did this.
“No one in the world can give what you are called to give! Each of you is unique and – please never forget it – precious in the eyes of God. You are precious to the Church, you are precious to me,” he said.
He added that they should never be afraid that their small effort to do good is wasted on a world in need of so much, because, as St. Teresa of Calcutta once said: “One more drop in the sea. If I do not give it, nobody will give it.”
Pope Francis urged: “Please do not leave life on the bedside table, do not settle for watching it on television, do not believe the next app to download will make you happy.”
Praising the scouts’ dedication to service, he encouraged them to “open up to others, live to do good to others.”
“Look at your hands, made to build, to serve, to give and to give to others,” he said, “and tell yourself: ‘I care, the other concerns me.’”
The pope noted the scouts’ pilgrimage through the Italian countryside to reach Rome, and how they had immersed themselves in nature during that time. He praised the openness witnessed in nature. “Creation belongs to everyone,” he said. “Creation is made to connect us with God.”