Editor’s note: In his message for March 28’s World Youth Day, Pope Benedict XVI offered reflections on Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man in the Gospel of Mark — specifically when the man asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life — and used it to encourage young people to discern God’s call for them. Here are two excerpts from the message:
Finding a plan
If we look at the young man in the Gospel, we can see that he is much like each of you. You too are rich in talents, energy, dreams and hopes. These are resources which you have in abundance! Your age itself is a great treasure, not only for yourselves but for others too, for the Church and for the world.
The rich young man asks Jesus: “What must I do?” The time of life which you are going through is one of discovery: discovery of the gifts which God has bestowed upon you and your own responsibilities. It is also a time when you are making crucial choices about how you will live your lives. So it is a time to think about the real meaning of life and to ask yourselves: “Am I satisfied with my life? Is there something missing?”
Like the young man in the Gospel story, perhaps you too are experiencing situations of uncertainty, anxiety or suffering, and are yearning for something more than a life of mediocrity. It makes you ask yourselves: “What makes a life successful? What do I need to do? How should I plan my life? What must I do for my life to have full value and full meaning?”
Do not be afraid to ask yourselves these questions! Far from troubling you, they are giving voice to the great aspirations that you hold in your hearts. That is why you should listen to them. The answers you give to them must not be superficial, but capable of satisfying the longing you truly feel for life and happiness.
In order to discover the life project that will make you completely happy, listen to God. He has a loving plan for each one of you. You can confidently ask him: “Lord, what is your plan, as Creator and Father, for my life? What is your will? I want to carry it out.” You can be certain that he will answer you. Do not be afraid of his answer!
Come and follow me!
Jesus invites the rich young man to do much more than merely satisfy his aspirations and personal plans. He says to him: “Come and follow me!” The Christian vocation derives from a love-filled invitation made by the Lord, and it can be lived out only by a love-filled response. ...
Following the example of so many of Christ’s disciples, may you too, dear friends, joyfully welcome his invitation to follow him, and so live your lives intensely and fruitfully in this world. Through baptism, in fact, he calls each of us to follow him concretely, to love him above all things and to serve him in our brothers and sisters.
The rich young man, unfortunately, did not accept Jesus’ invitation, and he went away saddened. He did not find the courage to leave behind his material goods in order to find the far greater good proposed by Jesus.
Jesus never tires of turning to us with love and calling us to be his disciples; to some, however, he proposes an even more radical choice. In this Year for Priests , I would like to urge young men and boys to consider if the Lord is inviting them to a greater gift, along the path of priestly ministry. I ask them to be willing to embrace with generosity and enthusiasm this sign of a special love and to embark on the necessary path of discernment with the help of a priest or a spiritual director.
Do not be afraid, then, dear young men and women, if the Lord is calling you to the religious, monastic or missionary life, or a life of special consecration: he knows how to bestow deep joy upon those who respond to him with courage!
To read the entire message, visit www.vatican.va/holyfather/benedictxvi/messages/youth/indexen.htm