“Earlier today I was listening to a radio program that was discussing parents crying at their children’s athletic success… As I came closer to this venue I began to have tears in my own eyes.” These were the words of the Rt Rev Peter Doyle, bishop of Northampton diocese, speaking to several hundred young people at The Joshua Camp, an international gathering of 21 nations at St Bonaventure’s Catholic high school in the Olympic Borough of Newham, East London, in the shadow of the Olympic Park.
“I had not been in this area for 50 years” he said. “It was amazing to see how different the place is now – and realising how different I am too.” He spoke of “tears in my eyes as I came here” as he reflected and thanked God and praised him in wonder for “what had held me together” throughout his life.
“Obviously there is the love of my family.” he began. “But what has run through my life has been the word of the God, the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the other sacraments that I have received, and I became very conscious of how much I have taken for granted for 68 years.” He went on to say that “the Spirit of God touched me to give thanks to the Father, and I hope that the same Spirit touches each of you, whatever age you are, whatever situation you are in at this moment.”
Bishop Doyle challenged the young people present to be modern day prophets. His words followed two motivating presentations given by members of the Sion Community for Evangelization who spoke about how to effectively engage in sharing the Christian message on the streets of London while first needing to be consumed with the love of Jesus Christ to be able to effectively share his unconditional love with others.
The bishop reminded those present that their role was not to be “someone who foretells the future” but to “speak God’s word that enlivens us and helps us to flourish.” He stated: “God’s word is a word of truth. God’s word is a word of justice. God’s word is a word of beauty. And the true prophet offers a word that is true and effective and brings about God’s will. ”
“To be a prophet involves rejection and opposition. You have responded to the invitation to be a Christian presence and witness for the Olympics.” said the bishop. “It is very apt therefore that the theme of our readings today is… ‘the Prophet’” but “do not feel anxious. May God give each one of you strength to run the race of faith, with the torch of faith in your hand.”
The Joshua Camp fittingly takes place as Pope Benedict XVI makes his missionary intention for the month of August “that young people, called to follow Christ, may be willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to the end of the earth.”
Bishop Kieran Conry of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton, bishop with responsibility for Home Mission, will join the international youth gathering on Monday to inspire and encourage the different teams to be a Christian presence at the Olympic Games as the young people embark on engaging in fun and prayerful activities with families across the Olympic Borough of Newham and at venues in Central London from Monday 6th August.
Full text of Bishop Peter Doyle’s homily can be downloaded at the top right of the page
For more info about The Joshua Camp visit thejoshuacamp.com
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