(Vatican Radio) The 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD7) hosted by the Archdiocese of Semarang, August 2-6, with over 2000 young people from 21 Asian countries had the theme, “Joyful Asian Youth: Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia!”. The 5 day event included a variety of activities such as adoration, confession, Eucharist, testimonies, group sharing, workshops, exposure, country exhibition, cultural performances and action plan.
During the homily at mass on the third day Bishop Henry D’Souza from the Diocese of Bellary (Karnataka), delivered the greetings of more than 600 million young Indians.
After stressing the beauty and the differences between the two countries and the diversity that characterise their peoples, languages, cultures, religions, he focused on the theme of unity as the key young people have to open all the gates of life.
India’s contribution, he said, comes from the exemplary life of its saints, like "St Thomas the Apostle, St Francis Xavier, St Gonsalo Garcia, St Alphonsa, and St Mother Teresa and others."
The inspiration of God's word proclaimed in liturgical readings clearly indicates a "divine plan for the unity of humanity," Bishop D'Souza noted. Even "Jesus willed unity and prayed for unity of all," he said as he described the plan of salvation: the covenant with Abraham, through which "all the families of the earth would be blessed", and the Tower of Babel as the symbol of “sin and rebellion".
In spite of God’s intervention differences are not eliminated. But Unity is realized in spite of the differences, thus rendering the distinctions irrelevant.”
Saint Paul teaches us, he noted, how to observe these differences. Among the many biblical passages, the bishop cites a Passage from the Epistle to the Ephesians: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God."
At this point, the bishop turned to the young people present as he was looking into the eyes of each. “It does not really matter in what group you belong. Are you free or a slave? Are you cultured or uneducated? Are you male or female? Before God and in Christ you are the same with others – with equal dignity! Divine acceptance is not dependent on one’s ethnicity, gender, social status; it simply doesn’t count.”
However, it is possible to experience the unity of the world " within the community of God’s people". Hence, "All that the nations and peoples of the world need to do is submit to Christ, who is the head of this redeemed humanity, and enter into the communion of the saints where all socio-ethnic distinctions lose their significance. In this body, Christ is the Head, the rest are members, united in Him.”
In this regard, the bishop quoted from the Gospel of John. “Jesus prayed,” he said. “I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.” This was followed by Psalm 133:1 in which the Psalmist declares: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
Finally, the prelate cited again Saint Paul who “rebuked the divided church at Corinth and commanded us to be of ‘the same mind and of the same judgment’.”
Turning to more current affairs, Bishop D’Souza said that “Asia is facing the rise of religious fundamentalism and threat to peace and security. More violence and deaths are caused by religious intolerance than any other weapon.”
“The Catholic youth of Asia have the God-given responsibility to respond to such situations. Concerted action to promote religious harmony and conflict resolutions in Asia should be a priority of our youth associations.”
The greatest challenge facing young people in Asia is “to kindle hope in millions in the region who look for a ray of hope to brighten their lives and make their struggles meaningful.” The goal is for young people to “become champions of unity of all peoples.”
Bishop Henry, who also heads the Bishops’ Youth Commission, gave the gathered youth an important task. “To be leaders of tomorrow by taking up leadership roles in all areas of modern life – spiritual leadership as priests and religious sisters and brothers,” as well as in political life, media, arts and other professions.
“The Church and Asia need the youth. They need youth’s talents, their energy, their imagination and their leadership. The youth of today cannot afford to be distracted by violence, materialism, pornography, addiction to substance and wayward life. Neither can they be indifferent and silent spectators. They need to be focused and become achievers, veritable transforming agents. They need to build bridges linking people of all faiths, cultures and nationalities. Let us start here in Yogyakarta, and carry the torch to the ends of the Asia” he concluded.(AsiaNews)