The theme of the Panama World Youth Day was, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). After that event, we resumed our journey towards a new destination – Lisbon 2023 – with hearts afire with God’s urgent summons to arise. In 2020, we meditated on Jesus’s words: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” (Lk 7:14). Last year too, we were inspired by the figure of the Apostle Paul, to whom the Risen Lord said: “Arise! I appoint you as a witness of what you have seen” (cf. Acts 26:16). Along the route we still need to travel before arriving in Lisbon, we will have at our side the Virgin of Nazareth who, immediately after the Annunciation, “arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39). Common to these three themes is the word: “arise!” It is a word that also – let us remember – speaks to us of getting up from our slumber, waking up to the life all around us.
In these troubling times, when our human family, already tested by the trauma of the pandemic, is racked by the tragedy of war, Mary shows to all of us, and especially to you, young people like herself, the path of proximity and encounter. I hope and I firmly believe that the experience many of you will have in Lisbon next August will represent a new beginning for you, the young, and – with you – for humanity as a whole.