By Courtney Grogan
In a letter read out at the synod closing Mass, bishops wrote to young people “our frailties and sins must not be an obstacle for your trust.”
“Our weaknesses should not deter you,” wrote the synod fathers in a letter published Oct. 28. “The Church is your mother; she does not abandon you.”
The Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica concluded the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment which began Oct. 3.
Pope Francis asked young people for forgiveness on behalf of all adults in his homily at the Mass.
“I would like to say to the young people, in the name of all of us adults: forgive us if often we have not listened to you, if, instead of opening our hearts, we have filled your ears,” Pope Francis said.
“As Christ’s Church, we want to listen to you with love, certain of two things: that your lives are precious in God’s eyes, because God is young and loves young people, and that your lives are precious in our eyes too, and indeed necessary for moving forward,” he continued.
Pope Francis often emphasized the importance of listening throughout the nearly month-long meeting of 266 bishops.
The first chapter of the final synod document published Saturday night is entitled “A listening church.” Young people “express the desire to be heard, recognized, accompanied,” it states.
Listening is “the first step in helping the journey of faith,” Pope Francis said in his closing homily. “It is the apostolate of the ear: listening before speaking.”
Reflecting on Mark’s gospel story of Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus, Pope Francis said, “Jesus takes his time; he takes time to listen.”
“So many children, so many young people, like Bartimaeus, are looking for light in their lives,” Pope Francis reflected, “They too seek life, but often find only empty promises and few people who really care.”
Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to be neighbors who seek out others with the message of God’s love.
“It is not Christian to expect that our brothers and sisters who are seekers should have to knock on our doors; we ought to go out to them, bringing not ourselves but Jesus,” Francis said.
Christ “sends us forth to say to each person: ‘God is asking you to let yourself be loved by him,’” he urged.
“Let us ask ourselves whether, as Christians, we are capable of becoming neighbors, stepping out of our circles and embracing those who are not ‘one of us,’ those whom God ardently seeks,” the pope said.
“Being a neighbor means bringing the newness of God into the lives of our brothers and sisters,” he continued.
“Faith has to do with encounter, not theory,” said Francis, “In encounter, Jesus passes by; in encounter, the heart of the Church beats. Then, not our preaching, but our witness of life will prove effective.”