The Homily at the Opening Mass for Vietnmese Youth - World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia

(by Bishop Joseph Vu Van Thien, Bishop of Hai Phong Diocese. Vietnam)

View this original homily in Vietnamese

Dear Young Friends,

Bishop Josep Vũ văn Thiên
Probably, there is no Vietnamese who does not know the legend of Lac Long Quan and Au Co. This legend has become the pride and the bond of unity for all Vietnamese. It is said that: Lac Long Quan (meaning the Dragon King of the Land of Lac/Happiness), who was from the kingdom of the sea, married Au Co, a beautiful fairy born and raised on high mountain. She gave birth to a membranous sac of 100 eggs, which hatched into 100 sons, who were noble, handsome, healthy and supremely intelligent.

One day, Lac Long Quan told Au Co: “I am the Dragon species while you are the Fairy breed; to live together permanently is difficult. I now take 50 sons with me to the sea, and you are to take the other 50 sons of ours to live with you on the mountain. Don’t forget to inform and help one another in emergency.”

From the legend of Mother Au Co, we Vietnamese have the conception of the word “Ðồng Bào” i.e., all Vietnamese are children from the same womb of Mother Vietnam.

My Dear Friends, the children and descendants of the same Mother Au Co, Mother of Vietnam have gathered today in Sydney. You are from the coast or from the mountain; you are from Vietnam or overseas, coming together with the Youth of the world to meet, to relate, to share and to build friendship. Directing our heart to the Motherland, our origin, we pray for the Motherland of Vietnam to ponder and find out the vision for our future while we identify the ideal of our living in today society. Thus the knot that ties us together is the Motherland of Vietnam. Together with this familiar knot, we still have another special knot uniting us that is the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit, God the Third Person, who has led us here to live in the family spirit of the Church. It is the Holy Spirit, who helps us to understand and recognize one another even though we come from many countries and different continents. As it was in the day of Pentecost, the pilgrims were from many different lands, but they understood the words that Peter preached, for the Holy Spirit opened their minds and hearts. And now, it is the Holy Sprit, who is the common language uniting us all as one. It is Him, who opens our minds and hearts to accept the Gospel message so that we follow Jesus to be His disciples.

Perhaps each young friend is questioning: “What am I doing to follow Jesus? What do I get?"

Jesus gives us the answer in the Gospel reading we’ve just heard:

-First of all, we are invited to follow Jesus to enjoy happiness wholeheartedly. We are glad to live in God’s family. Though life is full of trials, those who believe in Christ do not live in sadness. It is a contradiction for Christians to be sad. Our life’s got to be put in Hope and Joy. Not only that, we have to spread that joyful hope everywhere. To bring joy to others is to bring the Good News to them and to bring Christ himself to our sisters and brothers. Probably we’ve never met before, in these world youth days, let us, my dear young friends, give each other a smile, a friendly look. Everyone can do that, and God also wants that.

- We are called to love as Jesus had loved and lay down His life for the human kind, which He loved with all His heart. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jesus did that. He called love the new commandment, His commandment. In today’s life, evaluated as full of hatred and jealousy, love can be seen as a wrong note of music, as an abnormal thing, as a strange phenomenon. It is in this context that we, the Catholic youth, are called to live a life of love and forgiveness, through which we show to those around us the beauty and noble meaning of love for each other. Jesus called us to have love not only for our family and friends, for those who are good to us, but also for strangers and even those who do us harms.

- We are called to be friends of God. It is a wonderful thing: lowly man is made friend with God. Jesus, the God-made-man, has risen up human dignity, making man no longer “a creature brought out from dust,” but dear friend of Him. Friendship is a spiritual relation. Friends are easy to understand and ready to share joy and sorrow with each other. To be friend of Jesus is to cooperate with Him, to share His hope of building up a better world of justice and love. As Jesus’ friends, we believe that He’s always being there with us, always present to us in our life, though we do not see Him by physical eyes. As a friend, Jesus has shared with us the will of the Father that is to make Love and Truth blossoming in this life.

-We are called to be missionaries. The fruits mentioned by Jesus in the Gospel are the outcome of a life of justice and love. As Jesus had sent his disciples, today He also sends us into the heart of life to proclaim the Gospel. To spread the faith is to make more people know God. To spread the faith is to live well our role and responsibility in society. We spread the faith not only by words but also by the good examples of our life in relation to our brothers and sisters of the same human race. Today’s society is in need of many witnesses of the Good News, and only the witnesses with concrete good deeds have persuasive power to the people, for actions speak louder than words.

My dear young friends,

To follow Jesus, to love Him and trust in His Love, that is the purpose of the World Youth Day. That is also why we cross many miles to come here. In the journey to follow Jesus, we are not alone, for the Holy Spirit supports us by His power. The theme of the World Youth Day has spoken for that fact: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1: 8). Like the disciples of Jesus, we come here to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and once having received it, we continue to set out, we continue to move on, as dear friends of Jesus to make our life bear many spiritual fruits. These are the fruits, which will not die with passing years, but last forever and blossom in every place of life. These are the fruits of love, of charity, of zeal striving to serve Jesus and His church. Amen.