Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reflecting on the Jesus Youth 25th Jubilee Celebration

5 January 2011

In today’s society, young people are taught to study hard to be successful in life. It’s not bad advice. After all, to have a college degree, a respectable profession and the perks of modern life is important and something that we should strive for. But in the midst of our ambitions for material success, oftentimes, we forget that there’s more to life than education, career, and possessions. We forget that in the end, all those things are meaningless if they are not placed in context of something even greater and more profound, which is is to serve God and our fellow human beings.

Unfortunately, for so many people this more profound spiritual dimension of success never surfaces in their consciousness as they go about preparing for university entrance exams, graduation thesis, job interviews, and acquirng money to buy the things they need and want in life. It is this reality that makes me worried when looking at our society, and makes me feel so overwhelmingly grateful when I think about the members of Jesus Youth Movement.

At the 25th Jubilee Conference held from 28 December 2010 to 1 January 2011 in Kochin, India, I had the chance to meet many members of Jesus Youth, from just regular members to individuals who devote full time to the work of the movement. They were university students who majored in all sorts of fields. They were post grad students in medicine and engineering. They were professionals in information technology, film and music. They represented the ambitious, technological suave, hard driven members of generation X and Y. And yet, something distinctly set them apart from the stereotypical Xs and Ys – and that’s their zeal and love for God, for the Church, and for the mission of the Church. They realized that their ability and gifts were to be put to the service of God. They were not afraid to pray and praise God before others. They were not hesitant to sacrifice their time and money for the work of the movement, which is to proclaim the Good News to all the ends of the earth – a command that Jesus did not mean just for priests and religious missionaries, but for all God’s people by virtue of our Christian baptism.

At the Jesus Youth Jubilee Conference, among the 22,000 participants, there were many bishops, hundreds of priests and over 1,000 sisters. It was an inspiring sight to see the leaders of the Church coming to participate, to encourage, and to show their solidarity with Jesus Youth, which is essentially a lay movement. But for me, the words and images that are most edged in my mind did not come from the cardinal, the bishops nor the priests. But they came from the passionate testimonies of Jesus Youth members, the prayers that the singers said in between powerful Christian rock songs praising God, and the words of reminder from Jesus Youth professionals that we priests are needed to accompany them as they carry out the Church’s mission. I also remember the images of many youth who came up to me to talk and ask for blessings, of the thousands of hands raised in intent prayer, of eyes closed as the youth said the Rosary praying for the New Year’s Eve downpour to stop so that the program could go on.

Looking back on the Jesus Youth Jubilee Conference, I feel humbled by the skills and talent of the members, encouraged by their missionary spirit, empowered by their prayers, and grateful for the opportunity to participate in the conference and to accompany the Jesus Youth Movement as we try to proclaim the Good News here in Thailand.

I pray that as our Thai youth try to climb the social ladder to be on par with the youth of the world, they will remember the true purpose of everything that they are striving for. The model of Jesus Youth Movement is one that we can certainly adopt and immitate in order to bring about the Kingdom of God in our lives and our world. Let us begin by imagining that the zeal and love for God and for the Church that was seen at the Jubilee Conference can be seen here in Thailand, among our youth and in our very churches.

No comments:

Post a Comment