My passport is not stamped with a Polish stamp. I don't have pictures with new international friends. I have yet to taste a pierogi. But my heart is moved and full from World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow.
When I look at those pictures on Facebook, read the tweets, talk to friend and hear about the amazing adventures God had in the hearts of His children, how can I not be inspired in my Catholic faith?
It's common knowledge that Europe is not the safest place to be right now. Terror attacks occur frequently and a large crowd of people may have drawn conflict. Yet Catholic young adults still flocked to get a glimpse of the Pope. They still hiked 10 miles to camp out for a candle-lit vigil. They still fell to their knees in the rain to worship Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
Why? Because perfect love drives out fear.
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has torment, and he that fears has not been made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)
Love creates, it moves, it acts. When you're in love you have to do something - love requires action. Fear, on the other hand, immobilizes. Paralyzes. The founder and creator of World Youth Day, Saint Pope John Paul II once famous said, "Be Not Afraid." What does that look like? How do you not be afraid, and how can you tell that you're living this beautiful JPII motto?
If you're not afraid, you're in love. And people in love do crazy things.
Love tells 3 million people to pack up clothes and rain ponchos in a backpack and board flights that last 10 hours. Love pushes people out of their comfort zones and connects them with others who don't even speak the same language. Love emboldens some to fundraise for years, take time off of work or a summer vacation, and sleep on a gym floor. Love gets them up at 3:00 AM and doesn't let their mind rest even when they're supposed to be sleeping.
Love widens eyes, but more importantly it widens hearts. It widens hearts to mercy, compassion and action. It demolishes comfort zones and calls us out of sin and into grace.
"The world has no need of couch potatoes" (Pope Francis)
“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Pope Saint John Paul II)
Are you ready to fall in love with a God who loves you? Perhaps, more importantly, are you willing to let that love move you?