Pope Francis is counseling young people to be audacious and idealistic, insisting Wednesday that mediocrity is the greatest enemy of the young, stunting their growth and turning them into “Christian midgets.”
Reflecting on the Gospel passage where Jesus meets a young man who asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life, the pope suggested to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for his weekly audience that this is the key question for each and every person: how to live life to the full.
“That question contains the challenge of every life, including our own,” Francis said, “the desire for a full, infinite life.”
The question is how to get there and which path to take for a full and noble life, the pope continued. “How many young people try to ‘live’ and then destroy themselves by chasing after passing things?” he said.
While some think it is better to extinguish the impulse to live life to the full because it is “dangerous,” Francis said, this is not the solution.
The pope told the young people among the audience that the greatest danger in life is not this or that problem, but “a bad spirit of accommodation that is not meekness or humility, but mediocrity and faintheartedness.”
A mediocre young person has no future, Francis said. “He stays in one place, he does not grow, he will not succeed.”
Mediocrity and faintheartedness make young people “afraid of everything,” he continued, and, as a result, they “will not go forward.”
There is a difference between truly “living” and just “getting by,” Francis said. “The mediocre just get by.”
“We need to ask the Heavenly Father to grant young people today the gift of a healthy restlessness,” he said.
“The life of a young person means moving forward, being restless—a healthy restlessness—the ability not to be satisfied with a life without beauty and without color,” he said. “If young people do not hunger for an authentic life, I wonder, where will humanity go? Where will humanity go if young people are complacent instead of restless?”
In the Gospel, Jesus tells the young man, “One thing is missing: go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me!”
It is Jesus himself—the way, the truth, and the life—who offers the fullness of life itself, Francis said.
“Who, being able to choose between an original and a copy, would choose the copy?” the pope asked. “Here is the challenge: find the ‘original’ of life, not the copy. Jesus does not offer surrogates, but real life, true love, true wealth!”
Jesus challenges us to grow, to move beyond our comfort zone and our mediocrity, the pope said.
“It is ugly to find half-sized Christians, Christian ‘midgets,’ who grow to a certain height and then stop, Christians with a closed, undersized heart. This is ugly,” he said.
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