By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, July 29, 2013

Flash Mob with a Difference

I wonder if they slept. My guess: probably not much. When I and the other Bishops left the vigil at Copacabana beach Saturday evening the pilgrims were singing and dancing. When we returned the next morning they were at it again. For the sake of those who did sleep and needed some help to get going, the organizers involved everyone in the world's biggest flash mob ever. And I mean big. There were over three million (!!!) pilgrims on that beach. When is the last time you saw that many people moving in sync, united in a spirit of joy?? From where I was standing on the altar platform the view was extraordinary, beyond description.

Yet this was not the most impressive moment. What was most extraordinary of all was the transition from noise to silence. During Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the vigil, and again following both the homily and holy communion at mass, the crowd slipped into absolute silence. Although there was complete absence of sound, nevertheless the silence was not empty. It was filled with reverence, praise, adoration and love for The Lord. The lesson? Our focus is on Jesus Christ. From him, as from a wellspring, come joy, peace and unity. He alone is the world's hope, and we must allow nothing to distract us from our focus upon him. We need to find ways to carve out spaces of silence in our lives in order to listen to his word and converse with him in love.

This focus on Christ leads us out of ourselves and into the world. The theme of WYD 2013 is "Go, make disciples of all nations" (cf. Matt 28:16-20). Pope Francis took up this theme many times and encouraged not only the pilgrims but also everyone to go out to the world with the beautiful and life-giving message of the Gospel. By his words and his own actions, the Holy Father underscored the importance of going especially to our societal peripheries in order to invite them to the embrace of Christ and his Church.

WYD is a wondrous sign of the work and presence of the Holy Spirit. Join with me in praying that we all not only recognize but also move with this divine impulse and announce in new and creative ways the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.