Fr Christopher Jamison, Director of the our National Office for Vocation in England and Wales, gave his ‘Pause for Thought’ on The Chris Evans Show on BBC Radio 2 on Thursday, 21 July 2016.
He looked forward to World Youth Day – the biggest youth festival in the world where around two million young people will share their Catholic faith – worshiping and praying with Pope Francis.
Trust, welcome, forgive – the three steps of mercy.
We’re well into the festival season – Latitude and Geckgo Fest were last weekend, Bestival and Reading are yet to come. But which is the biggest? The answer, of course, is Glastonbury. 175,000 people attend each year, making it the world’s biggest pop festival.
Well, I’m off to an even bigger festival that starts on Monday in Poland. This coming weekend 600,000 young people will head to Krakow and by the following weekend there’ll be over a million. This is World Youth Day, the world’s biggest youth festival, when the Pope invites young people to join him in a celebration of faith, hope and love.
Now of course this isn’t a rock festival, it’s a pilgrimage but the streets are filled with music and performances so that Krakow will definitely rock next week. Pilgrims and festival goers have this in common: they step out of their comfort zone to embrace new experiences, mud and all.
Yesterday Pope Francis sent a special message to all those on their way to Poland inviting them to new experiences of mercy. He told them “I truly wish to meet with you to give the world a new sign of harmony, a mosaic of different faces, so many races, languages, peoples, and cultures, but united in the name of Jesus, who is the Face of Mercy.”
To create harmony among a million people from every continent needs people to trust strangers, to welcome foreigners and to forgive wrongdoers. Trust, welcome, forgive: the three steps of mercy.
In a time when disharmony is all too evident in the world, next week a million people in Poland will be a sign of harmony. Trust, welcome, forgive. I’m looking forward to living that intensely for a week but the challenge is to bring mercy home with me and live it out.