Sunday, July 31, 2016

World Youth Day: Taking Risks For Love

More than two million young people from all over the world.
The "World Youth Festival" in Krakow concluded this morning with Pope Francis celebrating an outdoor Mass for some two million people. I feel very blessed to have been able to follow some of the events live and others later in the same day.

There is no substitute for actually being there (I shall never forget my own World Youth Day experience in Denver, Colorado in 1993). But there is a great opportunity to participate with the heart, and in very real way also with the senses, thanks to digital media.

The internet is a source of so many evils, and yet it can also communicate great goods. The weeds and the wheat continue to grow side by side in history in so many diverse ways.

Once again, Pope Francis was an outstanding witness to the Gospel. He challenged young people (and their elders) not to be satisfied with being comfortable, but to take risks and move forward in living our faith with love for God and others.

We must take risks!

It's not (honestly) the message I feel like hearing. I think I want nice, comfortable academic, family, and community circumstances and a level of behavior that keeps up the facade of being a reasonably good person (and certainly better than all those immoral people "out there in the world").

Problems? Sure, but I can ignore them or kick them down the road by blaming my illnesses--all the more convincingly (to myself) because there's some truth in that assessment. But there remains for me with every breath the challenge to be human, to be humble and poor and surrendered to God.

It's the challenge to love. To take risks!

Lord, I'm afraid. I don't know how to begin. And I would not even think of beginning were it not for Jesus, who is already here, now, loving me.

I want to love Him, to love Him more, especially when I see the love of others, when I see the joy of these young pilgrims, and the tireless, implacable witness of Francis.

And in these same times, in many places and in the midst of many horrors, we see also the love that embraces Jesus to the very end, that responds to the violence of enemies with the courage of a presence, a giving, and a forgiving that really shows (as μαρτύριον, "martyrdom," testimony) that death has been defeated by the love of this man, Jesus.

It is a testimony that gives us, here and now, a taste of the resurrection and strengthens our confidence in its truth.

This is what I really want, what I really long for, what I don't want to miss in life. Jesus, I want to trust You more. I want to love You more. Have mercy on me.

Pope Francis preaches about the mercy of Jesus at the final Mass of WYD 2016. Images from CTV stream.

Here are some quotations from Pope Francis's final homily at today's Mass:
"We have been created in God’s own image; Jesus has taken upon himself our humanity and his heart will never be separated from us; the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within us. We have been called to be happy for ever with God!"
"As far as Jesus is one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess.... He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable." 
"This is the secret of joy: not to stifle a healthy curiosity, but to take a risk, because life is not meant to be tucked away. When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit waiting around with arms folded. He offers us life."
"Don't let the soul grow numb, but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice. Say a firm 'no' to the narcotic of 'success-at-any-price' and the sedative of worrying only about yourself and your own comfort."
The Lord "demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies. People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: 'Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy' (Matthew 5:7). People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centered or small-minded. Don’t be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!"
"Jesus...wants to enter your homes, to dwell in your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams. How greatly he desires that you bring all this to him in prayer! How much he hopes that, in all the 'contacts' and 'chats' of each day, pride of place be given to the golden thread of prayer! How much he wants his word to be able to speak to you day after day, so that you can make his Gospel your own, so that it can serve as a compass for you on the highways of life!"
View from the air of the millions who gathered for the Sunday Mass at Brzegi Common, Krakow.