‘You will receive power...’
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
‘You received the spirit of sons’ (Romans 8:15) was the motto of the memorable Sixth World Youth Day, which was held in Poland, in Czestochowa on 14-15 August 1991, with the participation of John Paul II. This year, on 15-20 July, young people from all over the world are meeting in Sydney, Australia, and the theme is ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses’ (Acts 1:8). The World Youth Days, initiated by John Paul II, have evoked enormous interest in young people worldwide. But it was not the case from the beginning. It seems that only the Sixth World Youth Day, held at Our Lady of Jasna Gora, captured due attention. The Holy Father noticed that, and then he often referred to that, sharing that Czestochowa had opened a new time, as if a new charter had been opened for the World Youth Days, which assumed important global character. We remember that extraordinary time, the city full of young people with their natural straightforwardness and enthusiasm, full of life and love… One should also remember that it was in Czestochowa that young people met the youth from the East, the Soviet Union, for the first time. There came young people who often knew very little about God. Many a time they came because they had the possibility of going abroad. Then on the spot their eyes and hearts were opened. Today we are looking at the World Youth Days from the prism of other big gatherings, which John Paul II led, and the meetings that Benedict XVI led – now for the second time. The Holy Father very much encourages young people to take part in the World Youth Day in Sydney. He stresses that it is a providential occasion to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. The Pope wants to meet in Australia as many young people as possible. He knows that the local society has been deeply influenced by secularism. And people need the Gospel very much; they need hope. If there is no religious reference people begin feeling insecure. They lack a clear vision of their future. They stand as if before a closed door. And that’s why, there is a great awaiting the Holy Spirit, new lights and new powers. The World Youth Days have always had this inspiring element. Those who have participated in these meetings, including those who have been hosts or who have only watched the participants, have opened their eyes to God’s matters; have assumed new perspectives and found their sense of existence. This is a unique event, especially for young people, who have just begun their adult lives and who can direct them properly according to somewhat different norms that those which the world imposes. We should – as in the Year of St Paul the example of the Saint reminds us – proclaim the Gospel of Christ to all people and in all places. Lord Jesus has been completely unknown in many places in the world. Recently, a group of Chinese journalists working for big papers, educated and enlightened people, have visited our editorial board. Talking about our editorial work I mentioned St Paul but after having uttered the first sentence, I realised that they knew nothing about the saint and about the Gospel of Jesus. Therefore, you should notice the need to carry the Gospel message to Asia, those peoples and nations that constitute huge masses, and yet they do not know Christ and his teaching. So which principles direct their lives and how do they live? The Gospel brings answers to the most fundamental human matters. It also brings comfort in poverty, mistrust and anxiety, and above all it tells us how to reach eternal life.
Today, experiencing the Year of St Paul, we must speak about quickened evangelisation – suitable for our times. Evangelisation can use electronic means of communication, e.g. the Internet, quick publishing and printing, the radio and television. This evangelisation is within our reach! Therefore, the theme of this World Youth Day corresponds with the thought of St Paul ‘the love of Christ overwhelms us’ and the Pauline attitude of a man totally dedicated to God’s matters in spite of his awareness of weaknesses. For love for Christ is always answered and strengthened by his power.
We wish that during the historical World Youth Day with Benedict XVI in Sydney, Australia, young people became open to the only Saviour of the world Jesus Christ.