When Christians act like Christians, even the secularists notice.

[TIME] Before the Pope and the crowds arrived, Sydney tried hard to be cynical about the whole affair. People asked why the government was spending $80 million on World Youth Day, a Catholics-only event. They grumbled that streets would be closed and traffic disrupted. Some feared the week-long festival of faith would overtax police and emergency workers. Racing fans were angry that the final Mass would lock up the city’s biggest racetrack. Activist groups saw the event as a chance to protest against Catholic teachings on homosexuality and abortion, and demanded that Pope Benedict XVI apologize for sexual crimes committed by Australian clergy.

Then the pilgrims came. The winter weather turned heavenly — one blue day after another. And the crowds of youths weren’t quite the kind party-mad “Sinny” is used to. They were happy, patient, peaceable. They sang hymns and waved flags. When protesters threw condoms at them, they shouted, “Jesus loves you, too.” When gay activists dressed as monks, nuns and devils shouted “Pope Go Homo, Gay Is Great,” pilgrims made peace signs. After a mass on Bondi Beach, some high-spirited worshipers plunged into the surf. “They don’t feel the cold, obviously,” said local resident Lilian Selby. “I’m freezing.”

Whether it was the sun or the smiles, Sydney thawed. “Go, pilgrims,” called office workers lunching in the park opposite the city’s St Mary’s Cathedral. The pilgrims were “pleasant people who don’t swear or brawl, commented reader “Thomas” at the Daily Telegraph website, “and they treat each other with respect.” Most of the populace seemed to approve. “People have been high-fiving us in the street,” said Sydney Catholic Marcia Moses, who took part in the event…

If we are no different, why would anyone else want to be like us? But when they see Christ in us, they notice. This is something we should always keep in mind. (Yes, even bloggers.) My message to the pilgrims in Australia? Good on ya!