On Palm Sunday, the Church celebrates World Youth Day. The Holy Father has chosen the themes for three years (2020-2022).
- 35th World Youth Day, 2020: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” (Lk7:14).
- 36thWorld Youth Day, 2021: “Stand up. I appoint you as a witness of what you have seen” (cf. Acts 26:16)
- 37thWorld Youth Day, 2022 (Lisbon, Portugal): “Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39)
In these three themes, there are two verbs which the Holy Father, Pope Francis, wants the young people to focus on – “arise” and “stand up”. These two key words lead in the preparations of the next World Youth Day gathering to be held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2022. It is an invitation to our young people to be missionary disciples, because Lisbon, in the 15th and 16th centuries had encouraged “great numbers of young people, including many missionaries, set out for unknown lands, to share their experience of Jesus with other peoples and nations.”
The Holy Father invites the young people to read and meditate on these two verbs “arise” and “stand up” which occur in the miraculous story of the son of the widow of Nain who was restored life (LK 7: 11- 17), as a preparation for 37th World Youth Day in Lisbon.
As we focus on this year’s theme, the Holy Father highlighted five focal points in his message to the youth, especially the young people who have lost their “vitality, dreams, enthusiasm, optimism and generosity.” Jesus stood before the dead son of the widow, and with all the power of his resurrection he urges: ‘Young man, I say to you, arise!’” (Lk 7: 14), and he restored her son to life and young people – you need arise.
First, the Pope wants the young people to be able to see “pain and death” which is a reality of life. Jesus saw these realities in a widowed mother. In today’s world, how are you encountering, experiencing and being eyewitnesses of events that cause pain, suffering, illness and death? The Holy Father says, “our first reaction is to take a picture with our cell phones, without even bothering to look into the eyes of the persons involved.” We may encounter all “negative situations,” or “failures,” but all these are part and parcel of life but these could also “end up being a grace” for you.
Secondly, Pope Francis invites the young people “to have compassion” (Lk 7: 13) of heart as how the widowed mother’s grief became Jesus’ own over the death of her son. The young people must be sensible and proactive towards natural disasters, victims of violence, persecution, etc. They must be willingly to step up offering their services whenever situations arise demanding it. They must be able to say “arise, you are not alone”, to face the difficulties and challenges in someone else’s life.
Thirdly, the Holy Father invites the young people to come forward and “touch” as how Jesus went and stopped the funeral procession. He touched the dead young man and brought new life to him, (Lk 7: 14). The Pontiff wants the young people to be constantly close to those who are hungry and thirsty, or are sick and naked, or imprisoned (Mt 28: 31-46) so that they “can bring the dead to life.”
Fourthly, the Holy Father wants the young people to give attention to look deeper into the phrases and words of scripture which give meaning to their lives. The word of God alone “can bring the dead to life,”
Finally, the Holy Father warns the young people about the use of electronic devises. They are often “connected” but not communicating their “personality, desires, needs and dreams.” After restoration to life, the dead young man “began to speak,” (Lk 7:15). The young people need to “arise” and to be more “committed to changing the world, to rekindle hopes and aspirations,” and “make your voices heard.”
Through the intercession of Mary, we implore her through her Son, Jesus Christ to restore our dead faith to life. Let ourselves “arise” and “stand up,” and when you “arise” and “stand up”, everyone’s life arises and the Church also arises.
AN EXTRACT FROR THE MESSAGE OF HOLY FATHER, POPE FRANCIS FOR 35th WORLD YOUTH DAY 2020
HAPPY WORLD YOUTH DAY AND GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS!
By Fr. George Packiasamy
Church of St. Joseph, Sentul,
5 April 2020