Highlights of JMJ 2023 in Lisbon

Highlights of JMJ 2023 in Lisbon

JMJ Lisboa 2023

I had the wonderful experience of attending the WYD in Lisbon from 31st of July to 6th of August with my numerous group “Servi della Sofferenza”.

Currently, I’m back home, longing to write this piece about the most motivational phrases and teachings I’ve heard from Pope Francis’ speeches.

It was a challenging week as we confronted fatigue and tiredness, yet we somehow felt inspired due to the energy that lingered in the air.

The Pope has had different meetings with young people in Lisbon and in each one of them reminded them the importance of rising up (levantarse) when things get harder or when they stumble along the way.

The Pope during the opening ceremony has mentioned how essential it is for young people to belong and feel part of the Church. Nowadays, more and more young people are growing apart from it, because they feel they are not represented by it or because it stays stuck in certain dogmas.

In the Church, there is room for everyone. Everyone. No one is left out or left over. There is room for everyone. Just the way we are. Everyone. That is the Church, the Mother of all. The Lord does not point a finger but opens his arms.

Jesus never closes the door, never, but invites us to enter. Jesus receives, Jesus welcomes.

Each young people these days, transmits the love of Jesus. God has called each one of us by name. He wants us to be close to him.

Pope in Lisbon 2023
Pope Francis during the meeting with university students of Universidade Catolica Portogesa in Lisbon, Portugal, 3 August 2023. His Holiness Francis traveled to Portugal for a five-days apostolic journey on the occasion of the XXXVII World Youth Day. ANSA/MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI

Pilgrims to the WYD haven’t been there by accident. The Lord has called them, not only in these days, but from the very beginning of their days. He called them by name, not impersonally, but by name.

Young people, says the Pope, have the restless capability of always asking questions and try to find solutions to their questionings. They sometimes demand to get those questions answered all together.

You too, this evening, have asked me questions, a lot of questions. Don’t ever stop asking questions, because that is good; it is better, often, than giving answers, because asking questions is a sign of restlessness, and restlessness is the best remedy for mere routine, for sometimes routine can dull the soul. Each of us has his or her own questions.

As life goes on, those questions get answered; we just have to wait for them. Here is something interesting: God loves surprises. He is not a robot; his love is always surprising. He loves to surprise. He always keeps us alert and he keep us surprised.

The Lord does not point a finger but opens his arms; he embraces us all. He shows us Jesus on the cross, who opened his arms wide in order to be crucified and die for us.

Jesus never closes the door, never, but invites you to enter. Jesus receives, Jesus welcomes. In these days, each of us transmits the love of Jesus. God loves you. God calls you. How lovely this is! God loves me. God calls me. He wants me to be close to him.

Finally, the Pope ended his speech by encouraging to get back up when they fall always keeping their goal clear in mind.

Carry on; if you fall, get back up; walk with a goal in mind, and train each day of your lives. Nothing is free in life, everything has to be paid for. Only one thing is free: the love of Jesus!  So, with this free gift that we have – the love of Jesus – and with the desire to carry on the journey, let us walk in hope, let us be mindful of our roots, and move forwards, without fear. Do not be afraid. Thank you!

The WYD has been an enlightening experience.  I have met such inspiring and empowering people. We exchanged gifts with young people from all over the world with different backgrounds, points of view on Faith.

It gave me hope seeing millions of people there to share the joy, the values of this life changing meeting.  I’ll hold dear this event in my heart!

See you all in Seoul in 2027!