Addresses and Statements

BLESSING & INVITATION

22 Jan 2019

BLESSING & INVITATION
Australian Gathering WYD, Panama City, Panama

Wow young Australia! What an awesome Aussie gathering this has been to introduce our World Youth Day week! We come together this week, young people with their lay leaders, pastors, and pope as a living-breathing, singing-dancing, praying-acting proof that the Catholic Church is alive and well. But we’re not here just to profile the Church. No, we’re here so something big will to happen to you and through you. So, I want to issue three invitations to you today.
First invitation. In the iconography of the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches Mary is the Theotokos, the God-carrier. She’s grand with her arms open in prayer and a see-through belly. The unborn Jesus is in a bubble in her, already blessing the world. It’s like she is a monstrance offering us a glimpse of the God within. This week is a super-opportunity for you to become a Theotokos, a God-bearer like Mary, open to God and saying YES to Him. There will be so many ways to strengthen your relationship with God, Mary, the saints including the young saints living among us.
You’ll have chances to speak, listen, discuss and discern. There’ll be great liturgies, talks, concerts, displays. There’ll be chances to hear God’s Word, receive His sacraments of Mercy and Communion, talk to Him in prayer, and celebrate your Catholic identity with your friends. So, the first invitation is: to make the most of all those opportunities so you can be a God-bearer like Mary. Will you accept?

A second invitation. If in Eastern iconography Mary is the Godbearer, the one who carries Jesus within, in Western iconography she is the God-sharer, the one who holds Jesus out for the world. The Church and the world need you to be both God-bearers and God-sharers, not just God-talkers but God-doers. Mary pondered many things in her heart, but she then got out there and did something about it. She brought the world to Christ in her prayer and then brought Christ to the world in her action. This week is a super-opportunity for you to go more than a bit public about your faith and have fun in the process. It will be a chance to resolve how you will share Christ through works of evangelisation, justice and mercy in the future. So, the second invitation is: to make the most of your WYD opportunities so you can be a God-sharer like Mary. Will you accept?

A third invitation. WYD isn’t magic. It may inspire you to see the world around you differently and to act differently in it, but when you get home the world will still be carrying on as before. Likewise, WYD may inspire you to see yourself differently and
develop some new aspirations for yourself, but when you get home you’ll easily fall back into your old patterns. So it will be important that you find new forms of prayer, community and action to sustain, enact and build on the energy you’ve found here. To help you with this the Church has many local and regional activities for growth in holiness and service to others. One the Australian Bishops want to offer you is the next Australian Catholic Youth Festival to be held in Perth in December 2019. It will be an opportunity to renew the good friendships and holy resolutions of this week before the year is out. Put it in your diaries!

So three invitations: to be open to God working through all the wonderful opportunities of this week; to be ready to be both a God-bearer and a God-sharer like Mary; and to make sure you build on WYD when you get home. Now these three invitations have arrived in your Microsoft Word calendar. Accept, don’t decline. No fomos please. No delaying accepting in case a better offer comes along. There’s no better offer than what God is offering you right now! And so let us pray:

Heavenly Father, we are gathered here in Panama City for the 16th World Youth Day, because you have drawn us here. We are grateful for our families, friends, colleagues and Church that have made this possible for us. Open our hearts now to receive
everything You have planned for us. Help us to say a Marian YES to You. May our time together be filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, a time truly full of grace.

We pray, Lord Jesus, that during this week, we may encounter your great love and mercy and, in response, that we may fall ever more deeply in love with you. Make us, like your mother, Godbearers and God sharers, joyful witnesses of the Gospel, working
for the conversion of our culture and the care of the poor and marginalised. We ask this, Lord Jesus, in your most Holy Name.
Amen.
The Lord be with you all.
R/ And with your spirit.
May almighty God bless you, + the Father + and the Son + and
the Holy Spirit.

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