Many people from our "neck of the woods" travel to the beach for vacation during the summer or winter in Florida where it is warm. Around here, common destinations include the Outer Banks, Myrtle Beach, Ocean City, Cape May. For years I would spend a week in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, with a number of priest friends. For a few of those years we had a place on the boardwalk in front of which a local church had their vacation bible school on the beach the week we were there. We would sit on the porch and listen to youngsters celebrating their love of Jesus in the sand. There is something awesome about a beach vacation. No beach yet this year, though.
There are hundreds of thousands, maybe a million or more, young people gathered this week on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janiero, Brazil - not for vacation, but for a spiritual "re-creation" at World Youth Day. They worshiped last evening on the beach at a Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Rio, they will gather for the Way of the Cross on the beach, and of course be there for the closing liturgy with Pope Francis as the week long gathering comes to an end. They come to celebrate, they come to be taught and nourished, they come to listen to and witness to Jesus as his Church gathers. It is a remarkable sight, a tremendous gift to the secular world of the vitality of the Church's future, and a life changing experience to so many. I hope that you are following these days through the press or especially through EWTN's coverage.
And today's gospel reading had Jesus and his friends going to the beach at the Sea of Galilee, with those hungry for truth and teaching, those longing to see Jesus, and those desperate for an encounter with this gift from the Father, following along. Jesus spent a great deal of time at the beach. It is a good place.