I just got back from World Youth Day 2011 in Spain. It was so hot, so crowded, so loud, so amazing — it would be virtually impossible to explain it to someone who wasn’t there. The highlight of World Youth Day is a Sunday Mass with the Holy Father. The night before, the young people gather for a vigil with the Pope and spend the night camping out in a field. There were people crowded everywhere enjoying the sun. However, after a rain storm blew in, quite a number of people left. The next day, the Holy Father was joined by between 1.5 and 2 million people for the largest Mass ever celebrated in Spain.
As I was reflecting on this, I realized how much I try to live my own life full of pleasure and free of pain. When I get up in the morning this goal is usually the first thing on my mind. Peter has the same thing in mind in today’s Gospel reading. He can’t understand why Jesus would accept suffering. But Jesus has something better in mind. You see, when we live for pleasure, we become more selfish, and we make ourselves the center of our lives. Other people become either sources of pleasure or obstacles to be avoided. Jesus has something better in mind. He chooses to live his life full of love and free of selfishness. He invites His disciples to do the same.
The world was amazed that so many young people would gather to hear an 84 year old man tell them to believe in Jesus. The world is also amazed that even in the 21st Century, young men are still feeling the call to the priesthood. Our Diocese is blessed with 23 men who are studying to be priests. Some of them came along on the trip to World Youth Day. Please pray for them. The world doesn’t understand why perfectly normal men would choose to put their own pleasures aside and lay down their lives to serve us and the Church. But we understand — once you have begun to live a life of love, you discover that there really is nothing better.
A glimpse at the storm