Homily of Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta at the Opening Mass of the 28th World Youth Day on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, July 23, 2013
Dear young people!
Distinguished authorities, ecclesiastical, civil, and military!
Beloved People of God!
We are starting World Youth Day Rio 2013! You are all welcome! This wonderful city has become even more beautiful with your presence! A great joy invades us: you are here! You have come from all over the earth! During these days, this will be home to all of you! You are part of our family in this beautiful and important moment in history!
Everyone is arriving tired by their journey here: but this time is to be with the Lord Jesus Christ, to live as his disciples. This will result in our experience of missionary enthusiasm! Go and make disciples!
The Archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao of Rio de Janeiro received with great responsibility the choice made by Pope Benedict XVI, now emeritus, announced the end of the Final Mass of WYD Madrid in August 2011. We thank him for this choice and his guidelines, the theme of this WYD and his encouragement. We know he's with us in prayer and accompanying us through the media. To him our affectionate greetings.
However, providentially, this day was destined to be a journey that, for the second time, returning to Latin America after 26 years, could be the place to welcome the first apostolic journey of Pope first Latin American history, Pope Francis, who came to preside over this beautiful and important moment in the life of the Church in these lands of São Sebastião. We officially welcomed him to the streets of this city on Monday with great joy, and we will welcome him solemnly here, in this very place on Thursday. The first Latin American Pope in history touches Latin American soil at this very World Youth Day, here in this town, in these days.
This week, Rio becomes the center of the Church, alive and young. All roads lead here. You have come from different parts of the world together for our shared faith and joy of discipleship. This happiness strengthens us and invites us to reach out to other young people, to make us missionaries to every nation. The best gift to give to others is the presence of Christ that fills us and drives us to love and give of ourselves, always in fraternal dialogue.
Here we come, too, after nearly two years of processing throughout our country with the symbols of WYD: the cross and the youth icon of Our Lady that are now a central part of these events. When these symbols were delivered from Madrid, Spain, in August 2011, a great excitement gripped the youth of our country who enthusiastically welcomed them into their communities during this time.
We have with us, across this city, many relics of the WYD patron saints and intercessors, recalling that in all times and places of the world we have young people who are sanctified. We are relatives of these people who are examplars of Christian life and who pray with us for today's youth.
We must bring to all corners of the world the youthful enthusiasm of the young Christian who seeks to unite the witness of an authentically Christian life with the social consequences of the Gospel.
We are called to be protagonists of a new world. I'm sure you will do this in your cities and countries. The world needs young people like you!
We just heard the Gospel in which Jesus calls Matthew to discipleship. The call of Matthew announces that Christ came in order for sinners to experience mercy. He came to us that so that we could be among the people called to the obedience of faith, as Paul tells us in Romans. "We received the grace of vocation to the apostolate, we were called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, God's beloved saints by vocation."
The first reading, along with the psalm tell us that our response should be in readiness -- saying: Here I am! Here I am! Speak for your servant is listening! Since we came to do, with pleasure, the will of the Lord (Ps 39:40).
This is the biblical expression that we wish to be on your lips and hearts today and always: Here we are, Lord! Like Matthew, are also ready for the consequences of YES to God, full of challenges and joys.
It was the call of Him who brought us together in this wonderful setting of the beach which gets its name because of the initial devotion to Our Lady of Copacabana, in the warm embrace of Christ the Redeemer. The sea, the sand, the beach and the crowd remind us of the vocation of the other disciples, and Matthew. This scenario leads us to the boats left on the beach for those who were called by Jesus to follow him. Today, we are called to follow the Risen Christ.
Jesus the Master invites us to swim in deep waters, the waters of our baptism. And this beautiful international gathering in the heart of the Year of Faith, is a favorable time to renew our commitments to the Christian community. We are called to live our faith deeply; in a time of so many questions and changes we must exude the enthusiasm and consistency of one who is led by the action of the Holy Spirit.
Reflecting on the response of Matthew, when we get up and respond positively to the Master, He comes to supper at our house and transforms our lives. To Samuel in the first reading, the call seemed like a dream, but with the help of another he was able to discern the voice of God was real. The missionary path requires discernment, utopian dream, but also the assistance of someone on our side to help us recognize the voice of God. Like Paul, we are servants of Christ, the apostles chosen by vocation and for the gospel of God!
Dear young people, our Archdiocese felt called by God to welcome you. We all respond as Samuel, Paul and Matthew: Here we are! Here we are! Our parishes, families, schools, pastoral associations, movements, groups of services. Our homes are your homes! There is a revolution of love at the moment: let us be Christ for one another! Let us be brothers! May this resonate around the world! We are called to live by building a world of brothers! We want each and everyone feel welcomed into the embrace of Christ, who calls all to be with him in building the Kingdom of God. Let us do this together!
It is Christ who invites us, saying: come, my friends! Let Him, in the footsteps of the successor of Peter, the Vicar of the Redeemer, sojourn through this river, spreading brotherhood wherever we go. That we may be harbingers of peace and harmony, urging the world to live the holiness that flows from the Redeemer of man.
And around the Master, along with other young disciples from all corners of this earth, we will say "Lord, how good it is to be here" (Mt 17:4).
Walk through this town, witness Jesus Christ, commit to a new world, infect everyone with the joy and peace of Christ as watchmen of the morning, working for the renewal of the world in the light of God's plan.
We embark on this long pilgrimage with strength because Jesus Christ is alive among us, gives us his Holy Spirit, and we are called to live this reality and to transmit it to others so that it may be accessible to them also. Jesus Christ is always present, especially for young people who seek truth, justice and peace -- and these can only be found in Him.
You, dear young people, are the gift of a hopeful society that expects its crisis of values ??has a solution. You are called to form a new generation that lives the faith and passes it on to the next generation. We are invited to an experience of faith and that we might leave here refreshed! Participation in community with the opportunity to be enthusiastic, coexisting as brothers and sisters, testifying that another world is possible! The first pilgrim who is already among us, the Holy Father, Pope Francisco, stood with us in this journey and indicate ways these days. Dear young people, do not be afraid to open your hearts to Christ!
We have many barriers to overcome and injustices. Let's build bridges instead of walls and obstacles. The world needs you to be in this city a witness to solidarity, sharing, and acceptance of the love of Christ the Redeemer. This is the time to awaken confidence and hope as they become attitudes towards the light of tomorrow.
Mary -- under so many names and invocations, and here in Brazil invoked under the title of Our Lady of Aparecida as principal patron, but also Our Lady of Penha, Our Lady of Nazareth -- was and is the partner and mother of all young people. To her we entrust each of you for who accept Christ's presence among us, walk the world as missionary disciples of the new evangelization, and protagonists of a new world, like sentinels of the morning awakening to the hope of a new dawn: Christ is risen and goes ahead of us! The Holy Spirit will enlighten our lives and give us light so that we understand our mission to lead people to the Father.
Today, we begin this journey, Christ the Redeemer tells us "Come, my friends!" During the journey, learn to say, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!" And increasingly hear the Lord telling us: "Be missionaries." "Go and make disciples of the nations!" And we all respond: "Here we are, Lord, send us!"
† Orani João Tempesta, O. Cist.
Archbishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro