He added that Jesus never abandons his children; no matter how far they have wandered, he is always there, calling and waiting for them to return to him and start over.
Pope Francis also pointed to the testimony of a 21-year-old woman, Vavy Elyssa Nekendraza, who he said made this point well: that “it is impossible to be a missionary disciple all by ourselves.”
An encounter with Jesus as individuals and as a community is essential, he said.
“Certainly, we can accomplish great things on our own, but together we can dream of and undertake things undreamt of! Vavy put it nicely: we are invited to find the face of Jesus in the face of others.”
Francis said no one can say, “I don't need you,” and asked the young people to repeat three times the phrase “No one can say, ‘I don’t need you,’” which they did in Malagasy.
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Catholics, he continued, are one great family that has a mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of Madagascar.
“That young woman is now the Mother who watches over her children as they walk in life, often weary and in need, but always anxious that the light of hope not be extinguished,” he said, adding that this is what he desires for Madagascar: “that the light of hope not be extinguished.”
“She, Our Mother, looks at this great assembly of young people who love her and seek her in the silence of their hearts, despite the noise of the world and the chatter and distractions of the journey,” he concluded.
“To Mary I entrust the lives of each of you, and those of your families and your friends. May you never lack the light of hope, and may Madagascar be increasingly the land the Lord has dreamt of.”
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.