HOLY MASS FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY: HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS
Campo San Juan Pablo II – Metro Park (Panama)
Sunday, 27 January 2019
“The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them: ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’” (Lk 4:20-21).
With these words, the Gospel presents the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. It started in the synagogue that saw him grow up; he was in the midst of neighbours and people he knew, and perhaps even some of his childhood “catechists” who had taught him the Law.
It was an important moment in the life of the Master: the child who was educated and grew up in that community, stood up and took the floor to proclaim and put into action God’s dream. A word previously proclaimed only as a future promise, but now, on the lips of Jesus alone, could be spoken in the present tense, as it became a reality: “Today it has been fulfilled”.
The now of God
Jesus reveals the now of God, who comes to meet us and call us to take part in his now of “proclaiming good news to the poor… bringing liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, setting at liberty those who are oppressed, announcing the year of the Lord’s favour” (Lk 4:18-19). This is the now of God. It becomes present with Jesus: it has a face, it is flesh. It is a merciful love that does not wait for ideal or perfect situations to show itself, nor does it accept excuses for its appearance. ...
When? Now. Yet not everyone who was listening felt invited or called. Not all the residents of Nazareth were prepared to believe in someone they knew and had seen grow up...” (Lk 4:22).
The same thing can also happen with us. ... We do not always believe that the Lord can invite us to work and soil our hands with him in his Kingdom in that simple and blunt a way. It is hard to accept that “God’s love can become concrete and can almost be experienced in history with all its painful and glorious vicissitudes” (BENEDICT XVI, General Audience, 28 September 2005).
A distant God
Often we too behave like the neighbours in Nazareth: we prefer a distant God: nice, good, generous, well depicted, yet far-off, and above all a God who does not inconvenience us, a “domesticated” God. Because a close and everyday God, a God who is friend and brother, demands that we be concerned with our surroundings, everyday affairs and above all fraternity. God chose not to reveal himself as an angel or in some spectacular way, but to give us a face that is fraternal and friendly, concrete and familiar. ...” (BENEDICT XVI, Homily, 1 March 2006). We can also run the same risks as the neighbours at Nazareth...
Dear Young people,
You too, dear young people, can experience this whenever you think that your mission, your vocation, even your life itself, is a promise far off in the future, having nothing to do with the present. As if being young were a kind of waiting room, where we sit around until we are called. And in the “meantime”, we adults or you yourselves invent a hygienically sealed future, without consequences, where everything is safe, secure and “well insured”. We don’t want to offer you a laboratory kind of future. This is a “make-believe” happiness, not the happiness of today, of what is concrete, of love.
And so, with this “make-believe” happiness, we “tranquilize” you, we numb you into keeping quiet, so that you don’t make too much of a nuisance, so that you don’t question yourselves or question us; and in that “meantime” your dreams lose their buoyancy, they seem to move slowly, they begin to become flat and dreary, petty and plaintive (cf. Palm Sunday Homily, 25 March 2018).
You are the present
Your life today is today. Your taking risks is today. Your space is today. How are you reacting to this? You, dear young people, are not the future. We like to say, “you are the future”.... You young people are the now of God. ...
Not tomorrow, now, for wherever your treasure is now, there will your heart also be (cf. Mt 6:21). Whatever you fall in love with, it will win over not only your imagination, it will affect everything. It will be what makes you get up in the morning, what keeps you going at times of fatigue, what will break open your hearts and fill you with wonder, joy and gratitude. Realize that you have a mission and fall in love; that will decide everything (cf. PEDRO ARRUPE, S.J., Nada es más práctico). ...
For Jesus, there is no “meantime”, but only a merciful love that wants to enter into and win over our hearts. He wants to be our treasure, because Jesus is not a “meantime”, an interval in life or a passing fad; he is generous love that invites us to entrust ourselves. He is concrete, close, real love, today. He is festive joy, born of opting for and taking part in the miraculous draught of hope and charity, solidarity and fraternity, despite the paralyzed and paralyzing gaze born of fear and exclusion, speculation and manipulation.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord and his mission are not a “meantime” in our life, something temporary, they are not only a World Day of Youth, they are our life today, our life of journeying ahead! ... As in the synagogue of Nazareth, the Lord stands up again among us his friends and acquaintances; he takes the book and says to us “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21).
Dear young friends, do you want to live out your love in a practical way? May your “yes” continue to be the gateway for the Holy Spirit to give us a new Pentecost for the Church and for the world.
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