“Shun laziness and selfishness and do not be afraid to follow God’s plan for your life, Pope Francis told the thousands of young participants of the 2023 Medjugorje Youth Festival in a message on Thursday.

“God has a plan of love for each of you. Do not be afraid of his will, but place all your trust in his grace. To him you are precious and important, because you are the work of his hands,” Pope Francis said in a message published by the Vatican on July 27.

The youth festival, in its 34th edition, is being held July 26–30 at the site of alleged Marian apparitions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Also known as “Mladifest,” the five-day event is focused on prayer and includes daily Mass and eucharistic adoration, testimonials, and a candlelight procession.

Thousands of young people gather at the 2023 Medjugorje Youth Festival July 26–30. Radio MIR Međugorje

“Only [God] knows your heart and your deepest desires. Only he who loves you with absolute love is able to fulfill your aspirations. No one but God can give you true happiness,” the pope continued.

He encouraged the festival’s attendees to follow the example of Mary in giving their unconditional “yes” to the Lord.

“Let there be no place in your life for selfishness nor for laziness,” he added. “Take advantage of your youth to lay, together with the Lord, the foundation of your existence, for your personal, professional, and social future will depend on the choices you make during these years.”

In his message, Pope Francis reflected on the theme of the 2023 festival — “Behold my mother, behold my brothers” — which comes from the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:49.

With these words, Jesus “wanted to indicate to us that it is adherence to the Father’s will that establishes us in union with him, a bond superior to the closest close ties of blood,” Francis explained.

“God’s will,” he continued, “is a priceless treasure!”

The pope acknowledged, however, that people often struggle to understand and accept God’s will.

“We would like a different life, without challenges, without suffering,” he said. “We would like ourselves to be different, perhaps smarter, richer in talents or natural dispositions.”

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