Heart Talk

The spirit of Jubilee is in the air and I have experienced this in every place I have visited during this grace-filled year. You may be connected to the movement through a ministry responsibility. Maybe you are a priest/religious who got your vocation journeying through the movement. Perhaps you are not fully active now because of various other commitments. Irrespective of who or what you are, or where you come from, the Lord is touching all of us in the Jesus Youth in a special way this year. I see this Jubilee spirit particularly in the two powerful gifts God has bestowed in the life of our movement – the Core People (who built it) and the Support System (created by the Holy Spirit which has surprised and challenged the members at every stage).
 
The Core People: As I journeyed for Jubilee visits along the scenic roads of Kerala, ‘God’s own country’ where Jesus Youth, which we can surely call as ‘God’s own’, was born, I found something even more powerful than nature – the hard work of those who built this movement in its early stages. I had the privilege of visiting senior leaders who have been with the movement from the early 1980s. I was amazed at what some of them shared with me. One of the leaders spoke of how in those days, they used to sometimes walk 20 kilometres to get to a prayer meeting. What touched me even more was the fact that despite this long walk, they used to first kneel down in prayer for hours before beginning any activity. I learnt how many of our inspirational ministries were formed and how they sent out many missionaries to distant lands. As I met all of them, one thing shone through – THEIR LOVE FOR THE MOVEMENT AND THE CHURCH. I think this passion etched in the heart of every Jesus Youth has contributed mainly to flaming our JUBILEE SPIRIT.
 
Looking back, we can see how by the power of the Holy Spirit, this movement quickly became a life-changing process for people, helping them make a greater commitment to Christ and the Church. Our functioning style encouraged even the simplest people to delve into the deep and living teachings of the Church and ordinary young people to find radical answers to the challenges of the world. In many parishes and campuses, the openness of Jesus Youth to the Church inspired many others to adopt a similar lifestyle. Our ministries in various life situations like the students, nurses, doctors, etc., connected the world to the Church and also brought the Church closer to the people. The energy and momentum of the movement was thus gained perhaps not through great theoretical speeches but by the active narration of God’s blessings in our lives. Truly it is amazing to see how the movement has helped lay people to understand their own value and role in the Church. They have evolved from being mere Sunday Catholics to serious thinkers with a strong missionary dimension. This is evidenced by the fact that many senior leaders, following their work in youth ministry, are now active in various councils and commissions of the parish and diocese.
 
The Support System: Another blessing which became evident as these senior Jesus Youth shared their experiences was the unique and timely help of an able Support System comprising of bishops, clergy, friends, institutions, well-wishers and their own family members. The spontaneous and proactive way this System has worked can be seen as nothing but the work of the Spirit. Whether it was a parish priest who opened his Church hall for us or parents who opened up homes or bishops who blessed us with their paternal care, it was all God’s hands shaping us into what we are today. Though sometimes there have been situations where we lacked wholehearted support, on looking back we find that this too has contributed to our personal formation and the laying of a strong foundation for our ministry work. Recently I met the elderly parents of an active Jesus Youth and the father shared how one of the rooms in their house was named the ‘JY Room’ because it was always full of young people, meeting and praying together!
 
As we move ahead in this Jubilee year let us visit one another and our Support System, thanking all and praying together. I praise God for giving us this movement which is ‘moving us deeper into the Church’ and at the same time is like the ‘Church on the move’ in our mission places. Making the Jubilee visits was a veritable retreat for me as I was greeted everywhere with a joyful “Happy Jubilee!” And I greet you likewise - “HAPPY JUBILEE!”