The new disciples
I recently had the opportunity to attend the World Youth Day event in Panama City, where thousands of young people from all over the globe gathered together around Pope Francis.
Listen, learn, delve into, discern, praise, express gratitude, absorb, share, search. All of us present there were invited to all those actions, following the example of our Blessed Virgin Mary, who proclaimed: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Bearing in mind the geographic landmark for which Panama is worldwide known, Pope Francis invited all Panamanians and all the young people around the globe to be, just like that small nation, “living canals” between the two oceans. The pope used the analogy of two oceans to invite us all to be God’s joyful love canals amongst each other: the vast ocean of the Lord’s wisdom and the ocean of the human world, where God chose to be born thanks to the confidence and meekness of Mary.
The fantastic work of engineering that is the Panama Canal was built over a hundred years ago thanks to the vision and courage of leaders and businesspeople, united with the untamed will of many, to overcome all sorts of obstacles, and the arduous work of thousands of laborers. The canal made commerce and communications between the continents more efficient and accessible. Current technology made possible the expansion — just a few years ago and in record time — of the canal in order to double its capacity, which makes us appreciate even more the exceptional work done a century ago.
Most of the events that took place in Panama were conducted in Spanish, but this fact was not an impediment for the young people of different cultures and languages to navigate the depths of their own faith and to share that faith in the deep waters of the faith of others — people who came from different oceans, with a different vision but with the same eagerness to offer their riches and receive the riches of others.
Without a doubt the air we breathed those days in the city was filled with the energy that radiated from young people visiting from all over the world. How beautiful and startling a sight it was to observe those thousands of souls proclaim their faith at the top of their lungs imitating Mary! To see them be — just like her — canals of the Lord’s unquenchable mercy, never tired of building new canals in order to offer his children so many products, some still unknown and inaccessible to many around the world!
Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, wrote: “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (12:1-2)
Mary, the young disciple attentive to discernment, was able to recognize God’s plan for her. Becoming the “canal” that God wanted her to be meant many sacrifices on her part so that she could unite the depths of God’s oceans with the level of human oceans. It is thanks to the deep discernment of that young Jewish girl that we were able to discover and enjoy new and amazing “products” called happiness, justice, solidarity, purity and freedom, until then available only to a few. She made these gifts flow abundantly to all through that beautiful “canal” that was her life, entrusted to the wisdom of the divine engineer.
After seeing those thousands of young people of all races, I am sure and confident that God continues and will continue to build new “canals” of forgiveness, purity and justice, so that his divine waters will keep on pouring down over the world, allowing for new forms of humanity to flourish according to his will.
Every few hours, the tide that flow towards the Panamanian shores retrieves back and dramatically transforms the attractive beachfront into a mire mash. Like the ocean waves, the divine tide always returns to the human shores, to beautify them and make new life sprout. All of us — especially the young ones — need to be new living “canals” who connect the vastness of God’s ocean of mysterious love with the ocean of our humanity, so that we can navigate into new depths. Mary, as a guiding star, will help us become amazing “canals” like her, so that many more will confidently set sail toward the depths of God’s ocean.
United in the voyage.
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - April 2019
Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.Website: www.seattlearchdiocese.org/Archdiocese/auxiliaries.aspx