When Cardinal D. Manuel Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon, asked Pope Francis what he expected for World Youth Day (WYD) 2023, the Pope’s response was a single word. He spoke it slowly to underscore its significance:
From the logo, to the theme, and eventually, the week of WYD itself, evangelization will be what Pope Francis hopes is instilled into the hearts of the world’s youth.
Carrying Christ to the World: The World Youth Day 2023 Theme
WYD 2023’s theme is from the Gospel of Luke: “Mary arose and went with haste,” (Luke 1:39).
This verse comes just after the story of the Annunciation, where Mary learns she will be the mother of the Son of God. She also learns that her cousin Elizabeth (who was thought to be sterile) is pregnant with John the Baptist. Mary gets up and immediately goes to visit Elizabeth in Ein Karem, a small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
So how does the story of Mary visiting Elizabeth lead us to the message of evangelization? There are two important mandates that Mary gives us in this one short verse.
First, when Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, this action is symbolic of her desire to share the good news of Christ with someone else. Mary didn’t passively hide away in her home. She didn’t shy away from sharing her news with her family. No, she chose to share this good news of Jesus, no matter how implausible or unbelievable the story of her pregnancy might have seemed. This is the first lesson in evangelization — the simple act of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
The second message is that Mary “went with haste”. There was an urgency to Mary’s desire to share her good news. She didn’t go with a leisurely or relaxed pace, she eagerly went with conviction. In short, she couldn’t wait to share the good news! The good news of Jesus compelled her to share him with someone else.
In Mary we find a great example to follow. Just as “Mary arose and went with haste” to share the good news of Jesus Christ, we, too, must arise with haste and share Jesus with others. This is the mandate of evangelization, and this is the example that Mary gives us to follow.
This is the young Mary’s attitude and action that Pope Francis hopes will inspire today’s youth. As he says, “May young people’s evangelization be active and missionary, for this is how they will recognize and witness the presence of the living Christ.”
Carrying on the Tradition
If you were at WYD 2019, you’ll recall that the theme in Panama was the verse just before this year’s theme, taken from Luke 1:39.
Luke 1:38 says “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” It is Mary speaking, faithfully affirming God’s will for her. Throughout WYD 2019, this theme was about faith and vocational discernment.
Now, it is about action.
If WYD 2019 taught us to have faith in God’s will for our lives and to seek discernment, 2023 is about carrying the message to the ends of the earth — and doing it with haste!
We Can’t Wait for WYD 2023 in Lisbon
At Verso, we’ve already begun preparing for what will surely be an incredible World Youth Day in Portugal. In fact, we’ve already been to Lisbon to scout locations, hotels, and vendors. We’re keeping tabs on all things WYD and will continue to provide updates — especially to those traveling with us!