At a prayer vigil for World Youth Day last week, Pope Francis praised young people for their acceptance and universal respect, and urged them to set examples for older adults.
“Today we adults – we adults – need you to teach us, like you are doing now, to live with diversity, in dialogue” he said. “To experience multiculturalism not as a threat but an opportunity…Have the courage to teach us that it is easier to build bridges than walls. We need this.”
So much of the rhetoric surrounding this election is based on fear of those who are different than us: immigrants and refugees, people from different cultures and religious traditions. Fear cultivates hatred, and we forget that these are human beings who are made in God’s image and who have inherent dignity. But time after time, I’ve been so impressed with young people’s willingness to fight back against this rhetoric, and to treat everybody they encounter with the respect they deserve.
These young people remember in their hearts that Jesus himself was a refugee in Egypt, that he spent his time among the poor and the outcast, and that he preached about a Samaritan, an outsider, who practiced a deep love for his neighbor.
We as a church applaud you for this attitude. And as Pope Francis reminds us, we can all learn from it. I hope that all of us, young and old, remember that when we recognize the stranger as a child of God, we are doing God’s work.
Information for this post comes from an article in The Record: “Youth urged to be examples for elders” by Cindy Wooden, published 08/04/16