The theme for World Youth Day 2023 is “Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39). This celebration is not simply for those who go to Lisbon, Portugal, but also for all young people and those who work with them. It is an invitation, an opportunity, to enter into a spiritual and evangelizing experience. As the official website for World Youth Day 2023 remind us: “
“Leaving in haste represents the attitude depicted in Pope Francis’ indications for WYD Lisbon 2023: ‘may young people’s evangelization be active and missionary, for this is how they will recognize and witness the presence of the living Christ.’”
“Leaving in haste” means that young people and all the baptized are called to go forth and witness Christ. Staying only where we are and with people with whom we are comfortable can result in our becoming complacent in our spiritual lives. We need to be missionary, including in our prayer. Is our prayer simply about ourselves or do we take the example of the Blessed Mother and be less concerned about ourselves and more concerned about others and doing the will of God? She left in haste to go to her cousin, Elizabeth, who in her advanced age was pregnant with St. John the Baptist. The main announcement of the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary was that she also was pregnant, but in a miraculous way by the Holy Spirit, carrying the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ. Instead of dwelling on her own situation, she went forth bearing Christ to Elizabeth whose child leap in the womb for joy!
When we bear Christ to others – when we witness Christ – some may reject us, but others will receive us with joy. Their joy is not about us, it is about Christ. Young people have an opportunity, not simply during the time of World Youth Day, but always, to go forth and “witness the presence of the living Christ” to the world.
May the Charity of Christ urge us on!
In God, the Infinite Love,