Christ fulfils our deepest longings - St Vincent de Paul Youth Conference Mass

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Christ fulfils our deepest longings
St Vincent de Paul Youth Conference Mass

Each year Pope Francis gives a message to the youth of the world in relation to the World Youth Day which is celebrated on Palm Sunday. Here in Tasmania we commemorate World Youth Day by a pilgrimage from Bellerive to the Cathedral.

The Pope began his address to the youth of the world by speaking about happiness. He said, “God has placed in the heart of every man and woman an irrepressible desire for happiness, for fulfillment”. This is true, isn’t it?: we all seek happiness. The question we could ask ourselves tonight is: where can I find happiness? Certainly we all know ways in which we can have a good time – friends we like to be with, places we like to go, things we like to do. But these experiences are often fleeting, passing.  How can we find an enduring happiness?

The Pope offers advice as to where ultimate happiness can be found. He says, “Dear young men and women, in Christ you find fulfilled your every desire for goodness and happiness.  He alone can satisfy your deepest longings, which are so often clouded by deceptive worldly promises”. 
We may be tempted to pass over this thinking that this is what a Pope would say. However, let’s give Pope Francis a chance. He is the pope. He may well be on the money.

Pope Francis backs up his statement by quoting from Saint John Paul II who said that Christ “is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.  It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives”.

Try to take this in, remembering that God has created us and has made us what we are. Maybe in our spiritual DNA is a thirst for God and nothing else will ever finally satisfy. Remember Jesus said to the woman at the well who came to get water that he could offer her a spring of water that would well up to eternal life.

Tonight as you are inducted as office bearers to the various school youth conferences of St Vincent de Paul Society I offer you the encouragement of Pope Francis. Firstly, I know he would want to affirm you for your willingness to be involved with the work of St Vincent de Paul Society, particularly in its effort to bring help and support to those in need. You know Pope Francis has a special love for the poor and wants the Church to reach out to the poor and needy, so he would be proud of you and want to encourage you.
Tonight as the Archbishop I want to say that I am proud of what you have chosen to do and want to encourage you in the work of young Vinnies.

As you take on the work of Vinnies this year I also want to join with Pope Francis in encouraging you to find the inspiration and fruitfulness of what you do from Jesus himself. What we do is ultimately inspired by Jesus’ works and actions. He is the constant focus for our Christian lives.

That Jesus may inspire your words and works it is important that we seek to grow closer to him every day. We need not just to know his teaching and have read about his works, but we need to come to know him in a personal way. The closer we come to Jesus the more he will be the true driver for what we do.

Again listen to Pope Francis in his words to young people this year: “Dear young people, the Lord wants to meet us, to let himself “be seen” by us.  “And how?” you might ask me.  Saint Teresa of Avila, born in Spain five hundred years ago, even as a young girl, said to her parents, “I want to see God”.  She subsequently discovered the way of prayer as “an intimate friendship with the One who makes us feel loved” (Autobiography, 8,5).  So my question to you is this: “Are you praying?”  Do you know that you can speak with Jesus, with the Father, with the Holy Spirit, as you speak to a friend?  And not just any friend, but the greatest and most trusted of your friends!  You will discover what one of his parishioners told the Curé of Ars: “When I pray before the tabernacle, ‘I look at him, and he looks at me’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2715).

Tonight as you accept your roles in the St Vincent de Paul Society, I encourage you to place all that you will do in this role before Jesus and ask him to accompany you and guide you.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of St Joseph. He is such a good role model for us because he was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things.

St Joseph always did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life. That is why Scripture praises Joseph as "a just man." He was a good and faithful servant of God, someone who does what God wants. St Joseph was an honourable and good man. He would have been conscious of the needs of others. A just man is someone who loves God and proves his love by directing his life toward the service of others.
Let us also ask St Joseph to pray for us this evening.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Wednesday, 18 March 2015