Dear Parishioners: What a site in Rio as an estimated crowd of 3 million people gathered on the Copacabana Beach  for a World Youth Day Mass with Pope Francis.  The Holy Father told the young people jamming the beach that the Church needs their enthusiasm and creativity. He urged them to go out and spread their faith "to the fringes of  society," even to those who seem the most indifferent.

Pope Francis continued to challenge the young people and the entire Church in his homily.  Here are some highlights from his powerful sermon: “Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all; he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love. 

And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go,” but “All of you go”: we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation; he called them to form a group, a community. 

Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness; it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did. Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized; the one who transmits the joy of faith receives joy. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of  selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you!”                                                            

The Holy Father’s message was delivered to the young Catholics attending World Youth Day but it really is a message for each one of us, young and old, priest and laity.  Do we bring Christ with us wherever we go or is He only for Church on Sundays?  How well are we bearing witness to the Lord’s love and mercy with our own actions and words?  Is there someone at work, at home, at school or even at the local breakfast joint we frequent everyday who needs Christ in their lives?

Perhaps  we who  faithfully come to be with Jesus at Mass each week need to reach out  more to our neighbors, friends and even some members of our own families who have drifted away from the Lord and His Church and invite them back to be with the Lord.   Maybe we need to simply invite them to Pilgrims pack Copacabana beach for closing Mass of World Youth Dayjoin us at Mass to share the experience of joy and hope we celebrate and proclaim each week at Eucharist.  If everyone who regularly attends Mass  invited just one person whose been away from the Church back to Mass imagine what could happen!  Is there someone in your life who needs to receive that invitation?

Let us pray: “Heavenly Father, stir in my soul the desire to renew my faith and deepen my relationship with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ so that I might truly believe in and live the Good News.   Open my heart to hear the Gospel and grant me the confidence to proclaim the Good News to others. Pour out your Spirit, so that I might be strengthened to go forth and witness to the Gospel in my everyday life through my words and actions.   In moments of hesitation, remind me: If not me, then who will proclaim the Gospel? If not now, then when will the Gospel be proclaimed?  If not the truth of the Gospel, then what shall I proclaim? I pray that through the Holy Spirit I might hear the call  to deepen my faith, grow in confidence to proclaim the Gospel and boldly witness to the saving grace of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.” God Bless.