Arvin D. Uriat

This year’s World Youth Day was held in Panama and the theme is the fiat of Mary, her YES to God: “I am the servant of the Lord, may it be done to me according to Your Word” [Luke 1:38]. Mary allowed herself to be used as an instrument in fulfilling God’s salvific plan for all. It was a brave and generous “yes”, but it was not that easy and simple. She must have been very troubled knowing that her positive response would be accompanied by great risks and dangers, not only for herself but for her loved ones also. But still, because of her tremendous trust to God, she had the courage to accept God’s invitation despite the overwhelming hardships and challenges she would encounter. In his homily during the WYD Welcoming Program, Pope Francis invited the young people to imitate Mary as she bravely and generously responded YES to God’s call. He said “To say YES means to embrace life; to embrace life means to embrace everything, and hopefully we embrace life as it is with love”. Mary embraced everything with love including the doubts, struggles, uncertainties, and problems. She certainly lived out the words of Pedro Arrupe: “Realize that you have a mission and fall in love; that will decide everything”. This is what Mary felt when she dared to accept the invitation of God.


“Young people are not the future but the NOW of God”, the Pope said. Definitely, the young people have a role in the Church and society. They always have something to offer that can greatly contribute to the welfare of the Church and society: their talents, capabilities, intelligence, etc. But where are they now? Why do many young people hesitate to give their time and render their service to the Church? Why do they seem inactive or indifferent to the church and society? The Pope reminded us that “our lives only find meaning in service to God and other people … but, to be at the service of others does not only mean to be ready for action. It also means to be in conversation with God with an attitude of listening, just like Mary”. The Pope appealed to adults to properly guide and form young people so that they can find a place in the Church and in society. The adults should give the youth the opportunity to actively participate in Church, involve them in the planning, consider their opinions and hear their suggestions rather than being inconsiderate to the point that the youth feel they’re ignored, and create a welcoming atmosphere where there is a sense of belongingness in a community.

Community is very important. As the Pope said, “It is impossible to dream a future without a community”. The Church is a community. As a community, we should allow everyone to participate and be involved in fulfilling God’s dream. We must not exclude anyone in the same way that we must not let ourselves be excluded from the community. As a youth and a member of one community, I challenge my fellow youth, the ‘now’ of God, that as young people chosen by God as His beloved children, let us use our giftedness to serve Him and His people and be an inspiration in empowering other youth to spread the mission of love and service. I know it’s not easy to follow Jesus but the challenge is to never give up. If we fail, we can always start again. Be optimistic. Never surrender but always dare to respond bravely and generously to God. If we wish to be a disciple of Christ, we must be willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and dare to say YES just like Mary!


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