During his welcoming ceremony at World Youth Day, Pope Francis said, “I am here to meet young people coming from all over the world, drawn to the open arms of Christ the Redeemer. They want to find a refuge in his embrace, close to his heart, to listen again to his clear and powerful appeal: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
With millions gathered at World Youth Day, the words of refuge in the embrace of Christ hold special significance. Even though there are millions there, each person has the chance to have a personal encounter with Jesus through the festivities and ceremonies of WYD. It would be hard not to listen to his message about making disciples of all when there is such a huge witness of the love of God at World Youth Day by the presence of so many young people who are there.
In that same welcoming address, Pope Francis said, “Christ offers them space, knowing that there is no force more powerful than the one released from the hearts of young people when they have been conquered by the experience of friendship with him.” Those words may seem contradictory to his earlier words of an embrace by Christ, but in my mind the two couldn’t be more connected. I feel that the pope through his message wants young people to come to Christ of their own free will where they will then be embraced by a loving God who gives them the strength to fulfill their purpose in life.
Giving people space to grow, and at the same time, being there to welcome them with a warm embrace is a beautiful message.
What do you think? Have you been to a World Youth Day? Are you in Rio now? Share your thoughts!