This is the 31st edition of the Youth Festival in Medjugorje, which this year bears the motto: "Come, and you will see”.
Who was the first to utter these words? It was Jesus Christ himself! And it happened immediately after Christ's baptism in the Jordan River, where St. John the Baptist—who was accompanied by two disciples—used to baptise. Those two disciples were certainly still young and were looki
ing for a life path: Whom to trust? Whom to follow?
When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, calling Him the Lamb of God, the two disciples realised that He was someone very important. After all, to this day we utter these words at every Holy Mass, before receiving Holy Communion: "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world!”
They followed Him out of curiosity. When Jesus saw them, he asked, "What are you looking for?" And they said, "Rabbi, where are you staying?" Jesus answered with the invitation, "Come and you will see." That's how we came up with the motto of this year’s Festival.
If someone seems interesting to us, or evenif we become interested in someone, we want to know not only what his name is, but also where he originates from, where he comes from, where he lives, and what his address is. And when he invites us to his house, we will gladly accept such an invitation. Because seeing his home allows us to get to know the inhabitant better and it says a lot about him. Even celebrities are proud of their residences and are happy to show them off online!
In order to get to know someone better, you need to meet that person. It is not enough to contact him by phone, e-mail or on social networks. The meeting place is important. Medjugorje is such a meeting place. One of the pilgrims told me: "Here in Medjugorje one feels a presence"! Whose presence? The presence of God, the presence of Jesus and the presence of Mary, our Mother.
In the world we live in, it’s getting harder to meet someone in reality, and it’s getting easier to get in touch in the virtual world. It’s getting harder to meet someone we can trust, someone we can open up to, or even share things that cause us pain. That is why loneliness has become a disease of this civilization.
When God created man, he uttered words that are permanently relevant: "It is not good for man to be alone" (Gen 2:18). Man is by nature a social being. That is why loneliness torments man with varying degrees of intensity, at all times and periods.
The great time and the great meeting place is the Holy Mass. It is the most important moment of every day in Medjugorje. During Holy Mass we are invited to two tables: to the table of the Word of God and to the table of the Eucharist. We can feed ourselves at these tables every day. After all, one does not live by bread alone, but he truly needs food for his soul, for his mind and for his heart.
So, what does the table of God's Word offer us today? This is an excerpt from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, a book of the Old Testament. That great prophet, who spoke the truth for which he was persecuted, experienced a piercing loneliness. God said to him, “Incurable is your wound, grievous your injury;There is none to plead your case, no remedy for your running sore, no healing for you. "(Jer 30: 12-14,17). But God comforted him by saying, “All your lovers have forgotten you, they do not seek you out. "(Jer 30: 17).
Dear friends, the causes of loneliness are very different and do not always depend on us. People lacking care, without families, those who often are sick – they all suffer because illness isolates us. Orphans suffer, children whose parents are divorced, suffer. But there are also the types of loneliness that we cause ourselves. Closing in on others,selfishness, thinking only of oneself, stinginess, and many other shortcomings, create loneliness.
Many young people suffer from loneliness. Why is that so? Because they do not know how to live, because they have no one in whom they can trust, because they are wounded and closed in on themselves, because they are also exploited or deceived, they suffer various injustices. They feel disappointed; they fall into sadness and depression. They lack reliable mentors because they don’t even look for them.
However, a believer should not feel lonely. If he prays the words of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father". Having such a Father, he can and should address Him in every matter, open his heart to Him, and reveal even the most hidden thoughts. He can talk to our Mother and the Mother of Christ, to our Comforter, the Queen of Peace.
And those conversations with God are nothing else but prayer. The great Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz wrote: "Lord! What/ am I before Your face? – Dust and nothing; But when I have confessed my nothingness to you, I – the dust, I will converse with the Lord" (All Souls Day, Part IV). Prayer is "talking" to God! He will give us strength, He will give us optimism and hope, He will show us the true meaning of life. He will send us to others.
We do not live for ourselves: we live for others! The psalms—the most beautiful prayers repeated by Jesus Christ himself, which the whole Church prays every day—will teach us this.
The second food, from the table of God’s Word that is offered to us today, is the truth about the human heart. In a non-anatomical sense, the heart is the centre of the human personality: it is there where thoughts, intentions, feelings, and human conscience meet. Purity ofheart determines a person’s value. We take excessive care of the cleanliness of the body, using so many hygiene and cosmetic products; the malls are full of them.
We should worry even more about purity of heart, which is even more important. Christ is giving us today a lesson concerning purity of heart. What comes from the outside does not make the heart impure: it is not just that some food is considered impure, but also the external, evil influences of our senses, to which the pure heart is resistant.
Jesus said to his disciples, “It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.” (Mt 15, 11)
The disciples did not quite understand what that was about, and Jesus explained it to them, as the one who knows human nature: “Do you not realize that everything that enters the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled into the latrine? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile.” (Mt 15, 17-18).
He continued to explain, “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.” (Mt 15, 19-20)
We condemn ourselves to loneliness when we stop praying. In the Bible we will find many prayers that can serve as a model. There is such a prayer, that of the young queen Esther, who needs to undertake an heroic act, in order to save others. However, because of this action, she is threatened with death. Therefore, she addresses God with these words: “My Lord, you alone are our King. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hands. Save us by your power, and help me, who am alone and have no one but you, Lord. You know all things. … O God, whose power is over all, hear the voice of those in despair. Save us from the power of the wicked, and deliver me from my fear.” (Est 4, 17)
But most important is our personal prayer: from heart to heart. If that heart is not pure, the dirtiness that Jesus is talking about should be removed from it. So much, even excessively, we care about the cleanliness of the body: baths, showers, soaps and shampoos, creams and lotions. But they do not purify the heart.
There is a way: it is the sacrament of healing, it is called the sacrament of reconciliation and peace. It is the sacrament of forgiveness of sins and strengthening for a better way of life. This sacrament is also the Eucharist, from the second table of the Holy Mass: true food for the soul and strengthening of the heart of each of us. Let us use them often and let us not be afraid. “You need to be strong!” St. John Paul II exclaimed.
I wish you to discover these treasures during your stay in Medjugorje and I cordially greet you: lift up your hearts! Amen.