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Make your lives ‘parable of the Gospel,’ bishop tells youth

Bishop Bartolome Gaspar Santos of Iba Diocese

A bishop calls on the youth to make their lives “a parable of the Gospel” during a Mass for Filipino pilgrims on World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal.

“It is an ordinary way of life, a kuwento (story) that you can always reiterate so that you can always see that there is a Christ in you,” said Iba Bishop Bartolome Santos in his homily at Saint Mary Magdalene Church on August 3.

Bishop Santos, also Vice Chairman of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Youth, said that being gathered for a momentous event like World Youth Day is an invitation for the youth to elevate even their everyday lives as a journey walking alongside Jesus. 

“When we stop, God stands with us,” the bishop said. “If we go, God walks with us. Wherever we will be, no matter how sinful you are, no matter how unworthy you are, God is in our togetherness.”

The prelate emphasized that walking with the Lord also means leaving no one behind, regardless of their imperfections or shortcomings.

“Jesus Christ became like us in all possible things except sin,” he said. “Jesus, in being together, He listens in a gathering, though they may be sinners, like the publicans, Magdalene, prostitutes, and outcasts. That’s wonderful. We have to imitate that.”

He said that the Lord will listen to and embrace anyone who comes to Him, no matter their disability, race, sinful past, or sexuality.

“When you walk with Jesus and you tell all what is in your heart and mind to Christ, then Christ will understand and bring you along in this togetherness,” the bishop said.

Furthermore, Bishop Santos reminded the youth that beyond the joyous celebrations of World Youth Day, they must never forget to also celebrate and meet Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

“This is the gathering that will really give us the Real Presence of the Lord whom we adore,” the bishop said.

“We are gathered here in one community to receive the Body of Christ so that when we get [to] the place where we will be evangelizing, we will be walking along [Jesus],” he added.

Organizers of World Youth Day (WYD) in Portugal published the preliminary attendance figures on Tuesday, claiming a record 'with the most nationalities' in WYD history.

Jorge Messias, director of the WYD logistics department, stated that all nations except the Maldives are participating in the week-long celebrations.

Messias stated at a press conference, "It is the WYD with the most nationalities in its history."

On the first day, at least 354,000 registered pilgrims were present, with Spain having the greatest number of delegates with over 77,000.

Italy was second with 59,469 participants, followed by the host nation Portugal with 43,742, France with 42,488, and the United States with 19,196.

Messias stated that the number of pilgrims is anticipated to increase over the course of the week, with approximately 750,000 people expected in Parque Eduardo and one million in Parque Tejo.

Approximately 25,000 volunteers from all over the world participate in the WYD and are divided into numerous teams. Over one hundred of them are Filipinos.

According to event organizers, there are approximately 688 bishops registered for the event, of whom 30 are cardinals.

WYD Lisbon has accredited approximately 5,000 journalists to cover the event, which will conclude on August 6. - Luke Godoy


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