Dear Young People
Nov 8, 2016
When I tell people that I worked with high school students, they often respond with exasperation, exclaiming, “I could never do that!” Yet, for the past fifteen years, young people have kept me young and engaged with the world.
The stereotypical teenager in our society is a person who is apathetic, addicted to their smart phones, and obsessed with celebrity culture. My experience ministering to teens is that they are bursting with passion for truth, beauty, and goodness. I believe God looks upon young people and sees great energy and potential. The Scriptures are filled with stories of God making His will know through the young.
There is the story of Joseph and his multicolored coat. Joseph, Jacob’s youngest son saved God’s Chosen People from famine in Cana. Even though Joseph's brothers faked his death and sold him into slavery, Joseph showed them love and mercy, welcoming them to Egypt. Remember David the ruddy, young shepherd and youngest son of Jesse? This was the young man God prepared to be King and the Prophet Samuel anointed with oil. And in the most profound, mysterious, and concrete way, God made Himself know in the Incarnation through a young women named Mary.
I have found that God can work through young people in ways that He cannot in adults. Young people are courageous. Teenagers have an instinct for justice and demand righteousness. Pope Saint John Paul II saw this in them. To foster the spirit and vitality of the young he started World Youth Day, attracting millions of teens and young adults to gather together in faith and stand as witnesses to the Gospel. In 1991 he challenged the youth, "Be demanding of the world around you!”
Without young people in my life, I fear I will fall into apathy toward the needs of others. Often feeling depleted by adult worries like debt, life insurance, mortgages, raising children, and paying bills, I can hardly muster the energy to watch the evening news without despairing. What a blessing it is in my life that I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of people that are full of ideas, compassion, and enthusiasm. It is from encounters with young people that I know deeply and undeniably that love is relevant; charity and justice are relevant; human dignity is relevant. We can encounter Christ in the young.