A Pilgrim’s Experience - Different Every Time! (Part II)

One of the most powerful messages of this past World Youth Day was the message of the Cross. It was cold and crowded on Friday night at Copacabana Beach, but we were all there praying the Stations of the Cross with the Vicar of Christ. The meditations were especially prepared for this occasion, focusing on the suffering of young people in today’s world. After the prayer, Pope Francis addressed us with his gentle
and loving voice:

How many times have we seen them in the Way of the Cross? How many times have they accompanied Jesus on the way to Calvary: Pilate, Simon of Cyrene, Mary, the women…? Today, I ask you which of them do you want to be? Do you want to be like Pilate, who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus’ life, and instead washed his hands? Tell me, are you one of those who wash their hands, who feign ignorance and look the other way? Or are you like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus to carry that heavy wood, or like Mary and the other women, who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness?

Our culture today proclaims that a comfortable life is what everyone needs and everything else must be avoided. What really makes a difference is not to look for what is comfortable but for what is true and to embrace it with freedom. The Lord doesn’t ask us to take up extra suffering. We can use our own daily suffering and struggles to be united to His and in doing so, we find fulfillment.

At the vigil on Saturday night, some young people gave their testimony. What did they share? These brave young adults shared their “cross” with 3.5 million others, inviting them to carry their own. One of them, a 23 year-old young man who became wheelchair-bound after a gunshot during a robbery said:

I was clinically dead. I had several cardiac arrests, and the doctor told my parents in the hospital ‘this boy has no hope,’ but I’m here and my community is here because of God’s mercy. This is my cross, the cross the Lord sent me to come closer to Him, to live more openly His grace and love. When the three million people broke out clapping, Felipe interrupted them. ‘Silence!’ he said. ‘Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit!’ Then he invited them to meditate on: What is the cross that the Lord has given me? What is the cross that he wants me to carry for his love? (Catholic News Agency)

Let’s ask the Lord Jesus to help us carry our “crosses” with the joy that only He, who is our hope, can bring. To enlighten our lives and the lives of many. I would like to finish by asking you the same questions the Pope asked of us that night:

And you, who do you want to be? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary? Jesus is looking at you now and is asking you; Do you want to help me carry the Cross? Brothers and sisters, with all the strength of your youth, how will you respond to Him? (to be continued...)

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