Here is a translation of the homily given by Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro during the Opening Mass for the 28th World Youth Day, which was held at Copacabana Beach on Tuesday.
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Dear Young People!
Distinguished Ecclesiastical, Civil and Military Authorities!
Beloved People of God!
We are beginning the Rio 2013 World Youth Day. Welcome to you all! This wonderful city has become even more beautiful with your presence! A great joy invades us: you are here! You have come from all places of the earth” During these days, this will be for you all your home! You are becoming part of our family at this beautiful and important moment of history!
To all who arrive tired by the delay of the trip or the walk: this time is to be with the Lord Jesus Christ to live as his disciple. This experience of ours will have as a consequence missionary enthusiasm! To go and make disciples!
This archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro has taken on a great responsibility given the choice made by Pope Benedict XVI, today Emeritus, announced at the end of the Mass at Madrid in August of 2011. We thank him for the choice and for his guidelines, for the WYD theme and incentive.
However, providentially, this Day was destined to be a Day that, for the second time, has returned to Latin America after 26 years, being able to be the place of hospitality of the first apostolic journey of the first Latin American Pope in history, Pope Francis, who has come to preside over this beautiful and important moment of the life of the Church in the lands of Saint Sebastian. We will gather solemnly here, in this same place, next Friday. The first Latin American Pope in history stepped, as Supreme Pontiff, on Latin American soil in this Global Shrine of Youth into which this city is transformed these days.
During this week, Rio becomes the center of the Church, alive and young. All roads lead us here. You have come from different parts of the world to share the faith together and the joy of discipleship. That happiness strengthens us and invites us to go to the encounter of the rest of young people, to make ourselves missionaries in all nations. The best present we can give other persons, is the presence of Christ, who fills us and stimulates us to love and give ourselves, always in fraternal dialogue.
We arrive here also after almost two years of pilgrimage of the symbols of the WYD through our country: the young people’s cross and the icon of Our Lady, which will now be present in our principal ceremonies. When those symbols were given to us in Madrid, Spain, in August of 2011, excitement took hold of the young people of our country who received them enthusiastically in their communities during that time.
We have with us, scattered through the city, many relics of Patron Saints and Intercessors of the WYD, recalling that in all times and places of the world we have young people who were sanctified. With us also, are relatives of those persons who are an example of Christian life and pray with us for today’s youth.
The youthful enthusiasm for all the songs demonstrates the face of the young Christian, who tries to unite the testimony of a genuinely Christian life with the social consequences of the Gospel.
We are called to be protagonists of a new world. I am certain that you will do this in your cities and countries. The world needs young people like you!
We have just opened the Gospel in which Jesus calls Matthew to discipleship. And, in calling him, announces that He came precisely so that sinners would experience mercy. He came for us who are among the poor called to obedience of the faith, as Paul says to us in the Letter to the Romans. “We receive the grace of the vocation for the Apostolate, we who were called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, loved by God and saints by vocation.
The First Reading, in fact a Psalm, tells us that our answer must be prompt, saying: I am here! Here I am! Speak as your servant is listening! Then we go to do, with pleasure, the Lord’s will (SI 39/40).
It is this biblical expression that we would like to be on your lips and hearts today and always: Here we are, Lord! Following Matthew’s example, we are also ready for the consequences of our yes to the Lord, full of challenges and joys.
It was His call that united us in that wonderful beach scenario that receives this name because of the initial devotion to Our Lady of Copacabana, under Christ the Redeemer with His welcoming embrace. This sea, sand and beach and multitude make us recall the vocation of other disciples, in addition to Matthew. That scenario reminds us of the boats left on the beach by those who were called by Jesus to follow Him. Today we are also called to follow the Risen Christ.
The Master Jesus invites us to plunge into deep waters, the water of our Baptism. And this lovely international meeting is precisely at the heart of the Year of Faith, propitious time to renew our commitments assumed in the Christian community. We are called to live the faith profoundly in this plural time of so many questions, in the change of age, but with the enthusiasm and coherence of one who allows himself to be led by the action of the Holy Spirit.
Reflecting on Matthew’s answer to Jesus, we heard that, when we rise to respond positively to the Master, He comes to dwell in our house and transforms our life. For Samuel, in the First Reading, the call seemed a dream, but with the help of a companion he was able to discern that it was God’s voice, it was real. The missionary path calls for discernment, utopia, dream, but also help from someone close to us who can help us to recognize the voice of God. Like Paul, we are servants of Christ, apostles by vocation and chosen for the Gospel of God!
Dear young people, our Archdiocese felt called by God to receive you. Thus we all respond like Samuel, Paul and Matthew: We are here! Here we are! Our parishes, families, schools, pastorals, associations, movements, service groups. Our homes are your homes! There is a revolution of love at this moment: the other is Christ for us! The other is our brother! May that resound throughout the world! We are called to live building a world of brothers! We want each and all to feel received in Christ’s embrace, who calls everyone to be with Him in the building of the Kingdom of God. Will we go together?
Christ invites us: come, my friends! We go with Him in the footprints of the Successor of Peter, of the Vicar of the Redeemer pilgrimaging through this Rio, sowing fraternity wherever we go, that we may be heralds of peace and concord, crying out to the world to live the holiness that springs from the Redeemer of Men.
And, around the Master, together with other young disciples from all corners of the earth, we will say “Lord, it is well that we are here” (Matthew 17:4).
Go through this city, witness Jesus Christ, commit yourselves to the new world, infect everyone with the joy and peace of Christ, as morning watchmen, working in the renewal of the world in the light of God’s plan.
We live this intense time of pilgrimage because Jesus Christ is alive in our midst, He gives us His Holy Spirit, and we are called to live this reality and to transmit it to others in an accessible and comprehensible way. Jesus Christ is always present, above all for young people who seek truth, justice and peace – and you can find these in Jesus Christ.
You, dear young people, are the promising present of a society that hopes that its crisis of values has a solution. You are called to be a new generation that lives the faith and to transmit it to the next generation. We are invited to an experience of faith and to come out of it reinvigorated! Participation in the community with enthusiasm will be the opportunity to — by living with other brothers and sisters — , testify that another world is possible! The first pilgrim, who is already among us, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has placed himself with us on this journey and will indicate the paths during these days.
Dear young people: do not be afraid to open your hearts to Christ!
We have many barriers and injustices to surmount. We are going to build bridges instead of walls and obstacles. The whole world, through you, present in this city, needs the testimony of solidarity, sharing and acceptance of the love of Christ the Redeemer. It is the time to awaken confidence and hope that will be transformed into attitudes for a tomorrow of light.
Mary — of so many names and invocations, is invoked here in Brazil with the title of Our Lady Aparecida as principal patroness, but also Our Lady of the Rock, Our Lady of Nazareth –, was and continues to be the companion and Mother of all young people. We entrust each one of you to her, so that, receiving Christ whom she presents to us, you will walk through the world as missionary disciples of the New Evangelization, being protagonists of a new world, as morning watchmen awakening the hope of a new dawn: Christ resurrected and goes before us! The Holy Spirit will illumine our life and will give us lights so that we understand our mission of how to lead people to the Father.
Today, on beginning the Day, Christ the Redeemer says to us: ”Come, my friends!” During the Day we will learn to say “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”! And we will hear increasingly the Lord saying to us: “Be missionaries.” “Go and make disciples of all nations”! And we will all respond: “Here we are, Lord, send us!”[Translation by ZENIT]