In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gave the great commission, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
In His great commission, Jesus issues the call to make disciples of all nations. The first part of this commission is a two-letter word but it is a very important one. It is a simple and direct command – Go! It’s necessary to understand that the call to make disciples is not a choice for us; rather, it lies at the core of being a follower of Christ. Making disciples should not be selective based on our feelings, availability, or convenience. Instead, it must be a continuous commitment, embodying the essence of faithful and devoted discipleship to the Lord.
This has been the mission of MFC Youth from the very beginning – to make all youth know Christ. Our aim is to proclaim Christ to every youth so that they may be able to know, love and serve the Lord. Through this, many things take place; attraction to the ministry happens, then there is deepening, growth, and maturity in the faith. Through all these, conversion happens. This mission aims to convert young people to Christ – to life like no other.
I have been blessed to be part of two World Youth Days (Krakow 2016 and Panama 2019). I saw the hunger of the young people for Christ. I saw how people gather, sing, dance, sacrifice, and walk for hours just to witness Jesus and stay with Him. Through my WYD experiences, I realized that WYD is not just a gathering of young people, not a vacation, not just an item to be ticked on your bucket list. Rather, WYD is an encounter with Christ together with your fellow brothers and sisters. Joining WYD compels certain responsibilities. These responsibilities are not just to share your experience after but rather should give you a more meaningful reason to share Christ and an opportunity for conversations that lead to conversion.
When you go to the WYD, you become a witness to the richness of our faith. But you also become a witness to those who should also experience that faith, those who are deprived to experience the faith, those who chose not to experience the faith, and those who don’t even know that this kind of faith exists.
When we hear Bishop Americo Aguiar of Lisbon, Portugal say in the WYD, “We don’t want to convert the young people to Christ or to the Catholic Church or anything like that at all.” (https://www.catholicnewsagency.com), we are disturbed, because it loses the essence of the most anticipated Youth gathering of the Catholic Church. It seems that there is a lack of understanding of the missionary mandate of the Church. It appears that there is a disconnect from what WYD should be:
World Youth Day is open to all young people who want to take part in a festive encounter centered on Jesus Christ together with their peers. This event is an opportunity to personally experience the universality of the Catholic Church, and to share with the whole world the hope of many young people who are committing their lives to Christ and His Church. World Youth Day is a unique way to deepen your faith and grow closer to Christ, through prayer and the sacraments, together with hundreds of thousands of other young people who share your interests and ambitions.
If we believe that only in Christ can we have eternal life (John 3:16), then we should lead our young people into discovering this kind of life, not away from Christ, or not even intentionally stopping the youth from sharing and being converted to Christ. WYD is a call for communion, conversion, and commissioning. We hope and pray that our young people will be inspired, empowered, changed and committed to going on a mission.
World Youth Day is about to start, and we focus on what is essential in this gathering – Jesus Christ and the Youth. But we also should be aware of the lies and fallacies that we can encounter. If we are firm in our Catholic Faith and founded on Authentic Love, we can have an unforgettable and spirit-filled WYD.
For all MFC Youth who will be joining the WYD in Lisbon and in the local celebrations, I pray that may you be able to seek Jesus, appreciate the richness of our Catholic Faith, deepen your faith and relationship with God, Commit your life to God, and make all youth Know Christ.
World Youth Day is a great opportunity to see the vibrancy of young people in their life in Christ. And it is also a great eye-opening experience of a life that we can all have if we have Jesus with us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kuya Dr Arellano is our MFC Youth National Coordinator. He is a fulltime worker for 9 years now. He is a husband to Ate Dianne and father to Lucho.