“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel” (Mk 16:15)
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses”
(Acts 1:8). “Every young person has a great thirst for God, even if at times this thirst is hidden behind an attitude of indifference or even hostility.” (Message of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II for the VII World Youth Day, 1991)
As you read these words, does your heart not burn with eagerness and zeal to proclaim Jesus? Do you feel empowered when you hear, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you?” Does something resonate deep in your heart as truth? Do you experience the urgency to want to “go into the world to proclaim the Gospel”? Mine does. These quotes remind me of the Commissioning Mass when, as missionaries, we proclaim: “All that matters is Jesus be proclaimed, this is what brings me joy” (Phil 1:18). Is there anything else that matters more to us than quenching the thirst of a young person by bringing Christ to them? That is why we lay our lives down: to bring the Gospel to those that thirst.John Paul II used the above scriptures at his address at the 7th WYD in1991. At the time, I was 11 years old. Jeff shared this address with us at the NSG in Saskatoon during our 20th Anniversary year. As we sat in the basement of St. Paul’s Cathedral during Jeff’s presentation, many of us were in awe as JPII’s words could have been the words from a talk that any of us could have written. We were speaking the same language. We had the same heart. I just want to share with you a couple more points from his WYD address. Take time, read them slowly and ponder them in your hearts:
It is not an easy task to speak of God today. Many times one finds a wall of indifference and even certain hostility. How many times will you be tempted to repeat with the prophet Jeremiah: “Ah, Lord God, I know not how to speak; I am too young”! But God will always answer: “Say not I am too young. To whomever I send you, you shall go” (cf. Jer1:6-7). So, do not be discouraged, because you are never alone. The Lord will not fail to accompany you, as he promised: “Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:20).
Or check this one out:
Being disciples of Christ is not a private matter. On the contrary, the gift of faith must be shared with others. For this reason the same Apostle writes: “If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!” (1 Cor 9:16). Moreover, do not forget that faith is strengthened and grows precisely when it is given to others (cf. Redemptoris Missio, n.2).
How many times have we spoken this encouragement or exhortation to each other, to our students, or prayed this for others? How can it be that a message written 20 years ago can speak to us in such a way that it sounds so normal today? I believe this is because our hearts echo the heart of our late Pontiff. Even more significant is that his heart is an expression of the true heart of the Church. Today on his birthday, as you read the message from the Holy Father, take confidence knowing that we are in heart of the Church.
We are the legacy of John Paul the Great. In some ways, we are like one of his “Timothy’s” – his words and writings encouraged us, challenged us and discipled us. He saw more for us than we saw for ourselves. As we continue our work as CCO missionaries, laying our lives down for the Gospel and seeing more for others then they may see for themselves, let us continue to call upon the intercession of John Paul II.