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“Filipino Youth in Mission: Beloved, Gifted, Empowered.”

Kabataang Pilipino: Gihigugma, Gigasahan, Gitahasan ka

Fr Junjun Amaya (Diocese of Sandhurst, Victoria, Australia)

A Letter to the Filipino Youth: On this year of the Youth (2019) in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines come year 2021.

(Note: This has been published for the 2019 Fiesta Souvenir of my home parish (San Isidro Labrador Parish) in Mantalongon Dalaguete Cebu Philippines)

Two unforgettable moments of grace for me were the opportunities to be part of  two World Youth Day events- one in Sydney, Australia in 2008 and the other one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2013.  Being part of the crowd of young people from all over the world celebrating and publicly declaring our Catholic faith, was not only amazing but it was a great moment of grace and a great manifestation of the working of the Holy Spirit.

I can still remember the final Mass with Pope Francis in the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro with millions of young people listening intently to  the words of Pope Francis in his homily reminding the importance of the youth not just as the future of the Church but as the present as well. Pope Francis said: “The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you.” He also stressed: “Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you!

I would echo these same words to the youth in the Philippines. The Church in the Philippines needs you. The Philippine Church is counting on you. Jesus Christ is counting on you. We are counting on you.

Though the Church in the Philippines is just two years short of 500 years old, she is forever young not only because of the many young people over the centuries to whom the Church is counting on but also because of the many youth of today who stood up to be counted and still do. Thank you, Filipino youth.

The theme to celebrate this year of youth is beautifully crafted: “Filipino Youth in Mission: Beloved, Gifted, Empowered.”

Being youth has a mission and one important aspect of the mission is being youthful. As Pope Francis said, the Church needs your ‘enthusiasm and creativity’. The Church needs your youthful approach to life, your ideals and your new perspectives on things, especially on the faith.

Don’t worry if things would not be as clear as you would like to be. Life is not always in black and white let alone being a missionary of Christ’s love and presence among other young people.

Remember that when Christ walked on this earth proclaiming the most beautiful and assuring message from the Father to us, not everyone liked to hear what he had to say, not everyone liked to see what he had done, not even everyone liked his presence near them. For some, Jesus did not only comfort the afflicted, he also afflicted the comfortable. Even among his closest disciples, he didn’t get all their support and loyalty all the time.

But remember, my dear young people, you are among the 3G’s generation, and with God, you are the formidable 4G.

3G means you are beloved (Gihigugma ka), gifted (Gigasahan ka) and  empowered (Gitahasan ka).

You are beloved. Jesus loves you the way you are.

Pope St John Paul II in his homily at the 10th World Youth Day held in Manila Philippines in 1995, would remind you what it means to be loved by the risen Lord. St John Paul said: “Beloved ones, sisters and brothers: build your lives on the one model that will not deceive you! I invite you to open the Gospel and discover that Jesus Christ wants to be your “friend” (Cf. Jn. 15: 14). He wants to be your “companion” at every stage on the road of life (Cf. Lk. 24: 13-35). He wants to be the “way”, your path through the anxieties, doubts, hopes and dreams of happiness (Cf. Jn. 14: 6). He is the “truth” that gives meaning to your efforts and your struggles. He wants to give you “life”, as he gave new life to the young man of Nain (Cf. Lk. 7: 11-17), and gave a whole new future to Zacchaeus who was dead in spirit through ambition and greed (Cf. ibid. 19: 1-10). He is your “resurrection”, your victory over sin and death, the fulfilment of your desire to live forever (Cf. Jn. 11: 25). Because of this he will be your “joy”, the “rock” on which your weakness will be turned into strength and optimism. He is our salvation, our hope and happiness and peace.

My dear young people, even if you think you are not cute in the eyes of your crush, you are always CUTE (charming until the end) for Christ. Even if at times you feel you are not loved by the people you care about or even the Church you would have liked to be identified with, Jesus loves you to include him in your plans as he has included you in his own plans. So stay CUTE as well (Christlike until the end).

Second, you are Gifted.

Find that special gift in you. Find that purpose God has assigned for you. You have the chance to appreciate life and all the good things that may come with it as you go on living. Don’t take this for granted. You have the opportunity to invest your time and talents that not only make your life better but also that help better the lives of others. You have all the opportunity to not just dream of good things, but getting up and make those dreams a reality. Be a gift yourself (good influence to your friends all the time).

Third, you are Empowered.  

Christ not only loves you to be his friend. He also wants you to tell others about him. He wants you to bring your friends to him. He wants you to make him part  of your circle of friends. He wants you to be an active part of the process of establishing God’s kingdom. You are empowered to share in the values and principles that Christ is passionate about. Make good use of the WIFI connection within you.

W– your sense of Wonder. Strive to look for what is true, good and beautiful.

I-be a person of Integrity. ‘Do the right thing always even if no one is looking.’

F– grow in Faith. Faith is your direct connection to God. It is your direct link to Jesus.

I-uphold your Identity. Be who you are. Do not pretend to be someone you are not.

God bless you all, Filipino Youth.

Keep up and even if the going is tough, keep going.

When it is harder to pray, pray harder.

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