Every time I look back at my World Youth Day (WYD) experience in Brazil, I just can’t help but be in awe of the many blessings and opportunities that God has given me. It was my first time to attend the WYD and so I tried my best to prepare for the whole experience before I left Manila.
It turned out that no amount of preparation can really brace me for the outpouring of graces that came from God. I was overwhelmed! Jesus spoke loud and clear from simple encounters to close encounters with the Pope.
There are three realizations (among so many!) that I would like to share:
1. Worship is a gift that should be shared.
It was a great privilege to be able to lead the worship twice during the WYD with pilgrims from other nations. It was like Pentecost! We all sang songs of praise in different languages yet our voices communicated one, clear message: the message of love and hope found in Jesus Christ alone. I am thankful because our community has this gift of worship and that we were able to help bring others to Jesus because of it.
I never thought that I would have the opportunity to serve during the WYD. I went as pilgrim but God showed me that outside my service area, I still AM a missionary. The call never stops! I am called to share the life I found in Jesus to everyone at all times. The opportunity to do it in worship was just an icing on the cake!
2. Hope found in the young.
It was really an enormous blessing to be one of the “kuyas” of the students coming from Assumption College (Makati, Antipolo, and Pampanga). Being with them was an affirmation of my service as a missionary to the youth. Once, during catechesis, they interviewed me and asked what keeps me going as a missionary. I told them that what keeps me going is the smile that I see in their faces, knowing that their lives are being changed by Jesus. (In Filipino, I told them: Basta makita ko ang mga ngiti sa mga mukha niyo dahil nababago kayo ng Diyos)
It gave me great joy to see them happily in tears and embracing one another during the last day of the WYD proper. It was a sight to behold! WYD was an intense Jesus experience for them and it gave me so much hope. The clincher was their eagerness and desire to join our community and be part of Youth for Family and Life (YFL).
With this the words of Pope Francis come to mind: “The one who evangelizes is evangelized. The journey will be joyful because you will have plenty of friends that will journey with you.”
3. The Song of My Life
The theme of the WYD was “Go and Evangelize,” which was Christ’s commission for all of us. During the closing mass, the Responsorial Psalm was, “Sing to the Lord a new song!” The Pope, in his homily, asked us, “What is this new song?” To which he followed by, “It is the song of your life!”
And it hit me. Throughout the WYD, I rediscovered my passion in music – both in playing and writing songs. I felt God calling me to really be a music minister so that I may be able to share Him through music. More than that, I am called to be more proactive in being a witness of His love. That way, I can really sing out the song of my life—His love!
“It is good for you to be here!” That is one of the messages of the Pope during his first address to the pilgrims. It was his homily following the reading of the Gospel about Christ’s Transfiguration. I carry that message with me up to this moment. True enough, our journey to Brazil for the WYD was good for us as evidenced by the many stories and realizations that we brought home. We also bring home the call to evangelize and I pray that we all may be able to live out that mission.
I thank everyone who made our pilgrimage to the WYD possible. To my family and to all those who bought tickets during our raffle, to those who supported us in every step of the way, again, thank you so much! You are always in my prayers! I also ask for your prayers, that we, missionaries, continue to live out God’s call for us.
May God be glorified!
Shared by Kuya Gam Guarnes, Fulltime Pastoral Worker
Visayas Regional Coordinator