4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Neh.8:2-4a,5-6,8-10
2nd Reading: 1Cor12:12-30
2nd Anniversary of the St. Ignatius International Youth Ministry in Union with the World Youth Day Celebration in Panama
[As in the first reading of today’s Mass, the people of Israel gathered to hear the Word of God, so we too are gathered here for only one purpose, to welcome the Word of God in Scripture and in Communion. Today I suggest we listen to the Word of God speaking through our Holy Father Pope Francis in his message for the opening of this year’s World Youth Day in Panama.]
As we gather in Panama, World Youth Day is once more a celebration of joy and hope for the whole Church and, for the world, a witness of faith. With you, we want to rediscover and reawaken the Church’s constant freshness and youth, opening ourselves to a new Pentecost. This can only happen if, by our listening and sharing, we encourage one another to keep walking and to bear witness by proclaiming the Lord through service to our brothers and sisters, and concrete service at that.
We come from different cultures and peoples, we speak different languages and we wear different clothes. But none of it has stopped us from meeting one another and rejoicing to be together. The reason for this, we know, is that something unites us. True love does not eliminate legitimate differences but harmonizes them in a superior unity.
[This reminds us of what we heard in the second reading today,“Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. You together are Christ’s body, but each of you is a different part of it.” Let’s continue now with the words of the Holy Father:]
Encountering one another does not mean having to look alike or think the same way or do the same things, listening to the same music or wearing the same football jersey. The culture of encounter is a call inviting us to dare to keep alive a shared dream. Yes, a great dream, a dream that has a place for everyone. A dream named Jesus, sown by the Father in the confidence that it would grow and live in every heart. A dream running through our veins, thrilling our hearts and making them dance whenever we hear the command: “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples: if you have love for one another.”
A love that does not overwhelm or oppress, cast aside or reduce to silence, humiliate or domineer. It is the love of the Lord, a daily, discreet and respectful love; a love that is free and freeing, a love that heals and raises up. [Like in the gospel of today: “to bring good new to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free.”]
Do you believe in this love? Is it a love that makes sense? This is the same question and invitation that was addressed to Mary. The angel asked her if she wanted to bear this dream in her womb and give it life, to make it take flesh. She answered: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Mary found the courage to say “yes.” She found the strength to give life to God’s dream. The angel is asking the same thing of each of you, and of me. Do you want this dream to come alive? Do you want the Father’s love to open new horizons for you? Do we have the courage to say to the angel, as Mary did: Behold the servants of the Lord; let it be done?
Each of you will return home with the new strength born of every encounter with others and with the Lord. You will return home filled with the Holy Spirit so that you can cherish and keep alive the dream that makes us brothers and sisters. “Lord, teach me to love as you have loved us.” Will you repeat those words with me? “Lord, teach me to love as you have loved us.”