World Youth Day 2013 is a little over seven months away, and Pope Benedict XVI is now calling on the young people of the Church to begin meditating on it’s theme: “Go and make disciples of all nations!” (cf. Mt 28:19). “To make Christ known is the most precious gift that you can give to others,” he said in a recent message published in preparation for the gathering in Rio de Janeiro. Young people, especially, have a very important role to play in making Christ known to the world.
The Holy Father recognizes that, when young people notice difficulties in the world, their first response is to ask what they can do to help. In a world that is hostile to God, or in some places, just apathetic to His presence, young people still have this touching ability to shine the light of faith, which “illumines this darkness.” After Vatican II, Pope Paul VI made a call to young people: “Build with enthusiasm a better world than what we have today!” Pope Benedict encourages young people to do the same, because love “is the only thing that can fill hearts and bring people together.” It gives people the meaning and the joy they are looking for, and it points those lost souls towards a Father who is thirsting for them.
In order to genuinely spread the Gospel, Pope Benedict suggests that young people meet Jesus first. He writes, “Those who come to Jesus and have experienced his love, immediately want to share the beauty of the meeting and the joy born of his friendship.” Jesus Christ is the Good News, and a relationship with Him will give us the unity and the love necessary to go out and make disciples. The Holy Father gives St. Andrew as an example, who immediately after meeting Jesus, ran off to tell his brother Simon (cf. John 1:40-42). An awareness of His presence at all times and openness to His Holy Spirit will give us the words necessary to communicate the Good News.
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that this mission to evangelize must be coupled with a better knowledge of the Faith, unity with the Church, a renewed commitment to become familiar with the Word of God, and a strong prayer life centered on the Sacraments. “Authentic evangelization is born of prayer and sustained by prayer,” he writes. He also suggests that young people recognize the broad call to evangelize “all nations,” yet accept the task at a closer level—to focus on bringing the joy of the Good News to those around them. He says: