Dear Young People!
The theme of the Panama World Youth Day was, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). After that event, we resumed our journey towards a new destination – Lisbon 2023 – with hearts afire with God’s urgent summons to arise. In 2020, we meditated on Jesus’s words: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” (Lk 7:14). Last year too, we were inspired by the figure of the Apostle Paul, to whom the Risen Lord said: “Arise! I appoint you as a witness of what you have seen” (cf. Acts 26:16). Along the route we still need to travel before arriving in Lisbon, we will have at our side the Virgin of Nazareth who, immediately after the Annunciation, “arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39). Common to these three themes is the word: “arise!” It is a word that also – let us remember – speaks to us of getting up from our slumber, waking up to the life all around us.
In these troubling times, when our human family, already tested by the trauma of the pandemic, is racked by the tragedy of war, Mary shows to all of us, and especially to you, young people like herself, the path of proximity and encounter. I hope and I firmly believe that the experience many of you will have in Lisbon next August will represent a new beginning for you, the young, and – with you – for humanity as a whole.
After the Annunciation, Mary could have focused on herself and her own worries and fears about her new condition. Instead, she entrusted herself completely to God. Her thoughts turned to Elizabeth. She got up and went forth, into the world of life and movement. Even though the astonishing message of the angel had caused a seismic shift in her plans, the young Mary did not remain paralyzed, for within her was Jesus, the power of resurrection and new life. Within herself, Mary already bore the Lamb that was slain and yet lives. She arises and sets out, for she is certain that God’s plan is the best plan for her life. Mary becomes a temple of God, an image of the pilgrim Church, a Church that goes forth for service, a Church that brings the good news to all!
To experience the presence of the risen Christ in our own lives, to encounter him “alive”, is the greatest spiritual joy, an explosion of light that can leave no one untouched. Mary sets out immediately, anxious to bring the news to others, to bear witness to the joy of this encounter. This too is what caused the haste of the first disciples following the resurrection: “[the women] left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples” [...]
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Dear Young People!