As I heard the words of Pope Francis’ welcoming address at World Youth Day, one of the images he described clearly imprinted itself on my mind.
I can imagine the scene: Hundreds of thousands of young people, gathered in the rain on the beach of Copacabana, waiting to hear the words of the pope.
He said to them who were gathered there, “Looking out to this sea, the beach and all of you gathered here, I am reminded of the moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias.”
He said, “Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In the spirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians.”
I really believe that the young people gathered at World Youth Day have already accepted that invitation to renew their faith by their presence there. But it is something that all of us can do. In fact, the pope even said during the ceremony that he welcomes all, including those “who are following us by means of radio, television and internet” to the “immense feast of faith!”
The words remind me that we live in a time in which we can all be united through social media and other means, to connect with the world youth day pilgrims who are there with the pope. We can travel with them in our hearts and minds, and make a pilgrimage of our own in our faith life.