The Church is forever young, always being renewed in the Spirit in every age.
I thought about that as I watched the beautiful spectacle of 1.5 million young people praying and worshiping with Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal.
Many young people from our parishes made the pilgrimage to be with the Holy Father in Lisbon.
More than 700 others joined me back home for our annual City of Saints teen conference held at UCLA. It was a joyful, glorious weekend.
I led a Eucharistic procession with our youth through the UCLA campus, celebrating the joy we have in our mission of bringing Jesus to our world. We held Eucharistic adoration to offer praise to Jesus and to bring him our prayers for our families and the world.
Whenever I am with our young people I come away filled with hope for the Church’s future.
In a culture of technology and endless media, where we are told that happiness is about having many things and pursuing lifestyles based on entertainment and pleasure, our young people know that there is so much more to life.
Our young people understand that they are made for greater things, for holiness, for what St. Paul called “the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
The Church’s mission is to walk with them and to reveal to them that “something more,” the greater things that God made them for.
In God’s Providence, both World Youth Day and City of Saints fell this year on the feast of the Transfiguration.
The Transfiguration is the answer to all the big questions — what does our life mean, what are we here for, and why and where is it all heading?
The answer is that we are made to be transfigured, just as Jesus was changed on that mountain top and his face shone like the sun and his clothes were turned into dazzling white light.
Jesus loves us for who we are, but he never leaves us where we are at. He is always calling us to go higher, to become the men and women that we are made to be, according to his plan for our lives.
In the Gospels, he uses the word “repentance.” It is a call to be changed, transformed — transfigured — in his image.
The Catechism says, “The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father’s only Son.”
The key word here is “vocation.” That means that our lives have this purpose, this calling, this destiny. We are made to be transformed in his image, to become more and more like Jesus.
St. Paul said, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.”
This is the promise that Jesus makes to each of us, and this is the promise that we are called to share with our young people.
Belief is a challenge, in every age and in every society.
In our age of science and technology, young people — all of us — are confronted with questions: Did God really create the world; did he really make us? Did he really enter into our history and live among us as a man? How can we know that any of this is really true?
There is only one answer.
At the end of the story of the Transfiguration, the apostles are face down on the ground, overwhelmed by what they have seen and heard.
The Gospel says, “When the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.”
Jesus alone can tell us the truth about our lives. Jesus alone can show us the way to happiness and the way to heaven. No one else knows the answer. No one else knows the way.
That is the message that we need to bring to our young people. Jesus made each of us out of love, and died for each of us out of love. And now he wants to walk with us, to be our friend — to be our best friend — our companion, in the journey of life.
His path alone is true, and where it leads there is nothing but love, the love that never ends.
Pray for me and I will pray for you.
May holy Mary our mother help all of us to be transformed more and more in the image and likeness of her Son. And may she help us to always be good witnesses and faithful guides to our young people as they seek Jesus and the truth of their lives.