16 Aug Identity of YouFra in Today’s World
There is no better way or recipe to find one’s true identity than to commit oneself to understand what the Scriptures say about man and woman, creatures made in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen. 1: 26-27). The Word of God offers, to those who listen to it, not only the opportunity to know their own identity, but also numerous perspectives to carry out the mission of witnessing to an evangelical life lived after the model of St. Francis. It is imperative that we should try to imitate the young man of the Gospel: “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17). In other words, even today, young people must have the courage to ask Jesus what the path they must follow to find their true identity and their mission in this world is, in the place and in the reality in which the Lord has placed them.
When young people let themselves be guided by the light of the Holy Spirit, they understand that they are «called to share their experience of Christian life in fraternity, and, in the light of the message of St. Francis of Assisi, seek to deepen their own vocation under the auspices of the Secular Franciscan Order».
Those who understand this and are thus able to deepen their vocation will be pleased to discover that their being a Christian is somehow intertwined with that of the OFS, whose Rule can become an inspirational document for the growth and maturation of their own Christian and Franciscan identity (cf. GGCC OFS art.96, 3). For this reason, the most important thing is to identify oneself as children of God who need to love others and to be loved, to listen and to be heard, to respect others as one wants to be respected (Cf. Mt. -40; Mk 12.29-30.33; Lk 10.27).
However, this awareness is not attained automatically: everyone must listen to the Word of God, be able to love it and preserve it in his heart. It is important to have the courage to find one’s specific and true identity as children of God, worthy of the freedom to witness the faith, the happiness of living and proclaiming the truth, not only with words, but also with works. Thus the Holy Father reminded young people: “My dear young friends, love the word God and love the Church, and this will give you access to a treasure of very great value and will teach you how to appreciate its richness…It is not easy to recognise and find authentic happiness in this world in which we live, where people are often held captive by the current ways of thinking. They may think they are “free”, but they are being led astray and become lost amid the errors or illusions of aberrant ideologies”. Therefore, the great secret whose discovery allows us to find our identity is hidden in the Sacred Scripture and in the Rule of the OFS (cf. GGCC art. 96.3): if it is sought with a spirit of discernment it is discovered and thus we become children loved by God and called by Him to follow Him along the path prepared for us, for the benefit of the fraternity and the world to which we belong. As believers we must always identify ourselves with Jesus: in service, in sacrifice, in listening, in forgiveness, in accepting, in mercy and in brotherhood. It is essential that today’s young people, despite their fragility, feel that they are his disciples, joyful to carry on the hope of a better future, without ever falling into conformism and allowing themselves to be guided by the true light – Christ himself! – at the same time walking in the light of the message of St. Francis of Assisi!
To find one’s identity depends totally on continuous discernment, on the ability and courage to let oneself be guided by the Spirit of God. «If we live by the Spirit, we also walk according to the Spirit» (Gal 5:25). Of course, it is not enough to read or listen to the Word of God if one does not have faith transmitted by parents. To find their identity, young people need the accompaniment of adults, who are exemplary teachers who help them, accept them as such and offer them the opportunity to find in their example the lived Gospel in which they can find comfort, acceptance, light for their steps even in a world where egocentrism dominates the hearts of so many young people! For this reason the Holy Father continues to remind them: «To you young people I say: Do not be afraid to go against the current, when they want to rob us of hope, when they propose rotten values, values like food gone bad – and when food has gone bad, it harms us; these values harm us. We must go against the current! And you young people, are the first: Go against the tide and have the daring to move precisely against the current. Forward, be brave and go against the tide! And be proud of doing so».
As Jesus asked his disciples to tell him what men thought of him (cf. Mt 16:13), so should be the attitude of parents, elders, religious leaders and political leaders: «to search together to look for the possible self-awareness of the world of youth», so that young people can recover the desire to feel like people of faith, able to learn from adults and admit that they need their help. This is the secret for appropriating one’s identity and mission which, for the members of YouFra, is that of being Christian and Franciscan. Therefore, always try to be witnesses and instruments of the mission of Christ among men, announcing Christ with life and with the word (cf. Rule OFS 6 CCGG 17.1). This is the heart of true and authentic Franciscan identity.
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Koinonia 2019-2: “Identity and Mission of YouFra”