This past summer I had the opportunity to watch some of the events of World Youth Day hosted in the beautiful city of Krakow. It was inspiring to witness the participation of so many young women and men from around the world drawn together by their faith and by a desire to grow in their following of Jesus and in their life with others.
On Saturday evening, July 30, Pope Francis presided at a moving Prayer Vigil. Through personal testimony and a dramatic presentation that offered a faith response to some of the challenges of the modern world, the participants presented an encouraging message of hope and peace. Toward the conclusion of the Vigil, Pope Francis addressed the gathering with a message that was both illuminating and challenging. It is a message that people of every generation can take to heart.
The Pope reminded us that sometimes we can settle into a kind of ‘paralysis’ that “confuses happiness” with being comfortable, thinking that “there is no longer any room to grow, to dream, to create, to gaze at new horizons – in a word to live…” Instead, he said to the assembled youth, we are here “to leave a mark”. “Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life…is asking each of you, calling you, to leave your mark on life, to leave a mark on history, your own, and that of many others as well.”
“As he did on Pentecost, the Lord wants to work one of the greatest miracles we can experience; he wants to turn your hands, my hands, our hands, into signs of reconciliation, of communion, of creation… When he calls on us, he is thinking about everything we have to give, all the love we are capable of spreading…Jesus is pointing you to the future.”
During this retreat season, we are reflecting on the theme Make Known to Me Your Ways, Lord. Authentic spiritual discernment helps us to come to a deeper understanding of the way in which God is leading us, inviting us into the future. Each of us is called by Jesus to bring the Gospel to life in new ways – through
compassionate service, through healing, concern for those in need, reconciliation, and peace. Centering our lives in Jesus, we can all make a difference by praying and working together to further the reign of God.
This is the message of encouragement that Pope Francis has offered to the youth of our world and to each one of us. As we pray together, Make known to me, Your ways, Lord, may our minds and hearts be more open to the way that Jesus sets before us. In our following of Jesus, each one of us can truly make a difference!
(Quotations are taken from Pope Francis’ Address at the World Youth Day Prayer Vigil, July 30, 2016)
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Gerald Laba, C.P.