Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Rio de Janeiro’s most famous landmark is the Cristo Redentor, a hundred-foot-tall statue of the Risen Christ that stands atop a mountain peak overlooking the city.  My students and I planned a visit to the site, but the day we chose dawned rainy and gray.  Despite my warnings that there would be nothing to see, they wanted to go anyway.

We caught the metro, then a bus, then a van that took us to another van that took us to the bottom of the peak, which we then climbed along with thousands of other pilgrims.  When we reached the top, it was pouring rain, the wind whipped our tired bodies, and there was nothing to see but gray.  Even the top of Jesus’ head was barely visible.  I said to myself, “This was a waste of time and money.”

But my companions, and the countless thousands of other pilgrims who made the trip that day, felt otherwise.  They were smiling, clapping, singing, and taking pictures.  One even lay down on the wet concrete to get a better camera angle of the statue.  They were caught up in World Youth Day’s spirit, one that made other cares quite unworthy of concern.  This is a mark of the good spirit, that in our joy we are led to forgetfulness of self.

August 12th, 2013