In a time where day to day news seems to constantly surround the turmoil and terror going on in our world, it is always promising to have a light in that darkness. The recent light came in the form of Pope Francis and his speech on World Youth Day in Panama. The speech was one of hope, encouragement and thanks. Any child of God, of any age, any background and geographic location could find themselves in and relate to his message.

In a world where there is much dividing and separating us, Pope Francis reminds us that the Church is walking with us. He highlights that World Youth Day was a celebration of joy and a sign of hope for the Church. The gathering of the youth is a witness of faith, and a testimony to the lengths that people will go to and sacrifices they will make for their dreams.

It is easy to be afraid or discouraged, but it is important to persevere and continue to move forward together with God as disciples. Pope Francis made it clear that we are all in this together, no matter where we are in our journeys of faith.

When I hear the world disciple I think of a follower of God who makes sacrifices and loves with all of their heart. Pope Francis added that a disciple is someone who is not afraid of taking risks and keeps walking through life with their heads up. Hearing this made me think of Psalm 23:4, “Thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are at my side.” 

This served as a reminder that no matter what is going on I am never alone.  

Throughout his speech Pope Francis’ tone was one of inclusion. He made me feel as if he was addressing everyone there and those watching from other places in the world as one big community; one big family.

His speech was not about him, it was about us, the youth, and the progress that we have made; that through all of the differences we choose to not divide, but to work together. Our differences make us who we are as individuals, but ultimately, we all want to live in a world where everyone loves their neighbor. 

Pope Francis posed the question of: what keeps us united? It is the undying unwavering love of God, that as he said, “does not overwhelm or oppress, cast aside or reduce to silence, humiliate or domineer.” It is a daily love and a respectful love. It is a love that heals and raises everyone up.  

In a world where, sometimes, competition takes over and people are more worried about getting ahead than helping each other it is encouraging to hear that we need to focus on raising each other up.

It is important to have the courage to focus on forgiveness, working towards the future and learning from the past. 

Pope Francis offers a statement of hope-filled thanks and a testament of love and acceptance. It is encouraging to hear these words of praise and of building a community in a time where not everything is positive or close to encouraging.

Brianna Vasquez is an A&E editor. Follow her on Twitter: @itsmeebrii. 

Brianna Vasquez is an arts & entertainment editor.

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