Archbishop John Dew
‘Each of you should be shaped by God’s word every day.’
These words were part of Pope Benedict’s message released in October last year for World Youth Day 2013 in Brazil last month.
About 200 young people gathered at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday 27 July to celebrate NZWYDE (New Zealand World Youth Day Experience).
It was a day for all present to reflect on the 2013 WYD theme, ‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations’ [Mt 28:19].
They came to experience WYD – community, friendship, God, laughter, prayer, faith, reflections, Jesus, discipleship and we did this in the context of that great mandate of Jesus.
Those gathered at the cathedral took part in a catechesis I shared with them, a treasure hunt around the city, Mass at St Joseph’s, Mt Victoria, a Latin American meal, a pilgrim’s walk back across the city and an evening concert.
As the day began we reflected on the invitation of Pope Benedict to take part in this important event knowing that thousands were in the Brazilian capital Rio de Janeiro with its statue of Christ the Redeemer.
We thought of the invitation of the statue’s open arms, Christ’s willingness to embrace all, how his heart represents his immense love for all and therefore the invitation to allow ourselves to be drawn to Jesus.
Pope Francis interpreted his predecessor’s message: ‘Trust Christ’s love for you and you will be witnesses so needed by our world.’
As the Pope arrived in Brazil he was described as ‘a humble man on a mission’. I tried to share in the catechesis that the mission of Benedict and of Francis is the same for us, that the great missionary mandate Jesus gave the Church 2000 years ago remains as urgent as ever and that we are all charged with bringing about the Kingdom of God.
As we used to hear in the Preface for the Solemnity of Christ the King, it is ‘a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace’.
NZWYDE helped us all to think about the fact that we are invited to make a disciple’s response, to be intentional about being followers of Jesus every day.
The WYD message was an invitation to ‘Become Christ’s disciples’; we therefore reflected together on what it means to be ‘missionaries’ – listening to the invitation to follow Jesus and to look at him and allow ourselves to be shaped by God’s word, we are then impelled and excited to share it with others.
On the way to Brazil Pope Francis told reporters of the energy of the young and the wisdom of the old and reminded them that if they isolate the young and treat them separately they will never be part of our communities.
He was saying in a different way that we belong together, no one group can be isolated from another: ‘Young people belong to a family, to a country, a culture and a faith’.
In Benedict’s WYD message he said, ‘If you are to remain firm in professing the Christian faith wherever you are, you need the Church; no one can bear witness to the Gospel alone. Jesus sent forth his disciples on mission together.’
I enjoyed NZWYDE – I hope everyone who came to the day did too, but above all I hope and pray that we are all ‘shaped by God’s word’ and this enables us to ‘Go, make disciples of all the nations’.