And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
I remember hearing this verse 6 years ago at the closing mass at World Youth Day in Germany. I had just spent the past week in Germany with people from all over the world who were passionate about Christ. I had had experiences that I have never had before and may never have again. And now I was going home and was about to start college. How could I leave behind everything that I had just experienced. I had seen true joy and truth and now I was going home. But I couldn't just go home. This had not just been a vacation that I will think back on and smile.
I knew that I could not just go home the same way that I had arrived a week earlier. The past week had changed me. It changed my priorities, they way that I looked at the world and other people, it changed my relationship with the Lord and it changed the way I thought about my role in the Church. I knew that I was departing for my country by another way. I may have been still taking the same route home but I was definitely going home in a different way then I arrived. I was taking my life changing experiences from the past week and bringing them back home to share.
Then I realized something even more powerful. I realized that I was surrounded by what seemed like a never ending crowd of people who had just spent the past week doing the same things that I had. Over the next few days they will all be returning home to all corners of the Earth. They will all be bringing the message and the joy of World Youth Day back to their homes. They will all be leaving a little differently then they arrived. They will all be departing to their countries by another way.
World Youth Day is not just about spending a week in a foreign country, seeing the sites, trying new food and making new friends. It is not even about having a week long religious experience. It is about building a lifelong relationship with Jesus and sharing that with the world. It is about empowering the youth to build a stronger and more passionate worldwide Church. The fruits of World Youth Day should not end with the closing mass but should be brought back to all corners of the Earth.
Just as the Magi were changed from their trip to Bethlehem and I was changed by my trip to Germany for World Youth Day in 2005, I pray that the people currently in Spain for World Youth Day will return to their countries changed.
Dear Lord, I pray for those attending World Youth Day, that they will be changed by their experiences this week and return to their country by another way.
Joining in with Soli Deo Gloria