World Youth Day – Rio de Janeiro

by Fr. Jared

The Church is alive and well…and young! Young people are not simply the future of the Church, they are the present. Despite it being limited, or nearly non-existent, on the mainstream media, I hope that you all had an opportunity to watch and read some of the coverage of World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. World Youth Day (WYD) is a worldwide encounter of young people with one another and with the Pope which is typically celebrated every three years in a different country. I participated in WYD in Madrid in 2011. The Diocese of Paterson usually has a large contingent of young people travel to participate in these pilgrimages. This event is an opportunity to experience the universality of the Church; to share with the whole world the hope of many young people who want to commit themselves to Christ and others. World Youth Day is a unique way to deepen one’s faith and grow closer to Christ, by means of prayer and the sacraments, together with hundreds of thousands of other young people. On these pilgrimages, young people find Christ, they deepen their relationship with him, and vocations are born. It is a wonderful witness of the faith on the part of young people who too often are ignored or written off. The next WYD will be in Krakow, Poland (the home of Blessed Pope John Paul II) in the summer of 2016. I look forward to participating in that with the young people of St. Philip.

Below are some excerpts from Pope Francis’ homily at the closing Mass on Copacabana Beach:
“During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history” (cf. Rom 10:9).

“Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of himself, but the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God.”

“Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone.”

“Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” He is with us! “Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on a mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus does not leave us alone, he never leaves you alone! He always accompanies you.”

“And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go,” but “All of you go”: we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation; he called them to form a group, a community. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness; it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did. Go, do not be afraid, and serve.”

“Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Amen.”

The message of the Holy Father is not just for young people, but for all the baptized. We each have a responsibility to go and share the good news. We have been successful at doing that here at St. Philip. We will continue to do so and get stronger and stronger. Our young people are dedicated to and active in the faith. With our encouragement and support they can do wonderful things for Jesus and his Church!