At the Rio World Youth Day in 2013, the central location to be used for Mass was a vast area specially christened as Campus Fidei. Back then we were in the middle of the Year of Faith, and Campus Fidei means ‘Field of Faith’.
Now we are approaching another World Youth Day, this time in the Holy Year dedicated to mercy, so it comes as no surprise that the central location at Krakow 2016 will be Campus Misericordiae – ‘Field of Mercy’.
Pope Francis has described the Church as being like a ‘field hospital’ where the many injured and suffering can come to have their wounds treated. In the field hospital, there is not always time for a lengthy diagnosis and profound judgement of a person’s condition. You simply have to do what you can in what precious moments you have.
The initial encounter is what really counts. Isn’t that exactly the same with the people who come today looking for welcome, help or healing from Christians?
Perhaps the Field of Mercy extends far out from Krakow – not in geographical terms, but in a mysterious way. Perhaps there is a place of mercy within each of us? If so, that should be a place we visited not just from time to time but often; a place to inhabit and know well.
Just as the next World Youth Day in Krakow follows naturally from the amazing experience in Rio, I am sure that the field of faith within each of us must lead directly to the field of mercy.
The challenge for each of us is to become representatives of the Church, and Christ, who are able to reach and welcome those who come searching for forgiveness and a place of welcome.