Faced with human suffering, God expects youth to give the best of themselves, Benedict XVI told World Youth Day participants at the end of the Way of the Cross this evening.
The Pope and the youth celebrated Christ’s passion and death with a Via Crucis along the streets of Madrid. Reflections from the Little Sisters of the Cross accompanied each station, and sculptures used in Spain’s celebration of Holy Week were set along the procession.
Regarding these images, the Pontiff said that "faith and art combine so as to penetrate our heart and summon us to conversion."
"When faith’s gaze is pure and authentic, beauty places itself at its service and is able to depict the mysteries of our salvation in such a way as to move us profoundly and transform our hearts," he reflected.
The solemnity of Christ’s death on the cross was marked with silence and the sound of drumbeats.
"The cross was not a sign of failure, but an expression of self-giving in love that extends even to the supreme sacrifice of one’s life," the Pope stated. "The Father wanted to show his love for us through the embrace of his crucified Son: crucified out of love. The cross, by its shape and its meaning, represents this love of both the Father and the Son for men."
Benedict XVI urged the young people to "take upon our own shoulders the sufferings of the world, in the certainty that God is not distant or far removed from man and his troubles."
In all human suffering, he said, "we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us."
The love of Christ should increase our joy, the Holy Father continued, encouraging the youth to "go in search of those less fortunate."
"You are open to the idea of sharing your lives with others, so be sure not to pass by on the other side in the face of human suffering, for it is here that God expects you to give of your very best: your capacity for love and compassion," he said. "The different forms of suffering that have unfolded before our eyes in the course of this Way of the Cross are the Lord’s way of summoning us to spend our lives following in his footsteps and becoming signs of his consolation and salvation. … Let us eagerly welcome these teachings and put them into practice. Let us look upon Christ, hanging on the harsh wood of the cross, and let us ask him to teach us this mysterious wisdom of the cross, by which man lives."