Don’t let anyone look down on you because you of your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself completely to them, so that everyone can see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:12-16).
Not long after terrorists rocked America and the world with the evil of the World Trade Tower and Pentagon attacks, the first reading from the daily Mass on Thursday, September 20th, was a special message for youth. 1st Timothy 4:12-16 starts with the very important words, “Let no one look down on you because of your youth, but be a continuing example of love, faith and purity to believers.”
In his response to the horrific events of terrorism, Pope John Paul II mentioned the special importance of our youth:
“… the vision and the moral strength, which America is being challenged to exercise at the beginning of a new century and in a rapidly changing world, call for an acknowledgment of the spiritual roots of the crisis which the Western democracies are experiencing, a crisis characterized by the advance of a materialistic, utilitarian and ultimately dehumanized world view which is tragically detached from the moral foundations of Western civilization. In order to survive and prosper, democracy and its accompanying economic and political structures must be directed by a vision whose core is the God-given dignity and inalienable rights of every human being, from the moment of conception until natural death. When some lives, including those of the unborn, are subjected to the personal choices of others, no other value or right will long be guaranteed, and society will inevitably be governed by special interests and convenience. Freedom cannot be sustained in a cultural climate that measures human dignity in strictly utilitarian terms. Never has it been more urgent to reinvigorate the moral vision and resolve essential to maintaining a just and free society.
“In this context my thoughts turn to America’s young people, the hope of the nation. In my Pastoral Visits to the United States, and above all in my visit to Denver in 1993 for the celebration of World Youth Day, I was able personally to witness the reserves of generosity and good will present in the youth of your country. Young people are surely your nation’s greatest treasure. That is why they urgently need an all-round education which will enable them to reject cynicism and selfishness and to grow into their full stature as informed, wise and morally responsible members of the community.
“At the beginning of a new Millennium, young people must be given every opportunity to take up their role as ‘craftsmen of a new humanity, where brothers and sisters — members all of the same family — are able at last to live in peace‘ (Message for the 2001 World Day of Peace, 22).”
We at Good News Ministries want to strongly emphasize the need for parents, catechists and other teachers to find new and creative ways to give our youth more opportunity to grow in the faith, to provide ways that enliven their relationship with God and excite their participation in Church community (which might not be the quieter, traditional ways us older folks are used to), and to empower their giftedness by recognizing what they can do and giving them room to do it in.
To all: We urgently invite you to join us in praying that today’s youth will do great things with their role as “craftsmen of a new humanity” as the pope envisions it. And since prayers without action are nothing but words, we ask the youth to realize your importance and to seek the doors of opportunity that God is giving you to make a difference. And we ask everyone else to spend time discerning what more we can be doing to encourage our youth and give them the opportunities to do what God is calling them to do.
We are at an exciting turning point in history. The groundwork for change has been laid in the growth of the contemporary Christian music industry, in the development of LifeTeen Masses and similar worship experiences, in World Youth Day and national youth conventions and other good youth retreats, etc.
Are we using every opportunity available to us? Are we answering the Lord’s call? Some of the youth reading this are called to become priests or join a Religious order; others are called to be lay ministers who do more than their parents did in building up the kingdom of God on earth.
Let us pray that we hear the Lord. And let us respond with an enthusiastic, energy-filled “YES, Lord, here I am, make a difference through me!”
Next: See more WordBytes on Victory in Spiritual Warfare >>
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© 2001 by Terry A. Modica
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