Dan Everson, SJ is currently participating in Magis 2016, a gathering of young adults from the Ignatian family before World Youth Day in Poland. Participants spent the last week in different “experiment” groups of about 25 people from around the world. Dan was part of a singing experiment led by Mocni w Duchu (Strong in the Spirit). Here is his reflection:
Today, four girls from the Czech Republic led us in singing “We Are One Body.” It was an apt choice. For the first time this evening, the “Strong in the Spirit” dance group performed live with the singers. All these young people from numerous nations came together to help one Polish town praise the Lord. It may be a small contribution, but we have helped the people to pray.
I say that it “may be” a small contribution because I’m not so sure that it is. Even as I write, another terror situation unfolds, not too far away, in Munich. Earlier this week, we learned of a different attack in Germany. News alerts continue to pop up on my phone, informing me of the latest black person killed by a police officer in the US, or vice verse. This world is a violent, broken place. The world needs peace. The world needs humility. The world needs God.
Which is why our worship tonight was so powerful. As I sang, “The beauty we see in us is your beauty, Jesus,” I looked out and saw a white man from Poland dancing with a black woman from Haiti. Regardless of their differences in culture and color, they named and honored each other’s beauty.
At another moment, the whole church proclaimed, “Błogosławieni miłosierni!” That is, “Blessed are the merciful!” Imagine if all the world bothered to see the beauty of Jesus in other people, even in people who look different, talk differently, and come from somewhere far away. Imagine if all the world sang with us, “Blessed are the merciful!” This world would be a better place.
And it still can be. Tonight we were merely hundreds of people acknowledging God and expressing our desire to serve him. When we get to Kraków for World Youth Day, we will be singing “Błogosławieni Miłosierni,” the official World Youth Day anthem, with millions.
Some parts of Christ’s body helped a small town in Poland to worship tonight. But perhaps, as millions of us go forth from Kraków proclaiming mercy — not pride, not victory, not power or greatness, but mercy — we can change the course of our world.