Borgjie B. Distura
Going back to the question: What can the youth learn from this incarnation of the ‘word of God.’ Jesus is the word of God made flesh and St. Paul’s admonition to the Colossians is very relevant for today’s youth, a generation characterized by being a POST TRUTH. St. Paul admonishes the Colossians to adhere to the Word of God so that they may not be deceived by false teachers with false ideologies.
The apostle to the gentiles warns the people that, yes, there are deceivers, there are serpents. And in order that they may be preserved from fall, from giving in to the deception St. Paul insists that the Word of God, Jesus Christ, is the ground and the foundation. The apostle uses two metaphors- the plant and the building- being the people. And in order for the plants to grow and the building to stand firm, both must have Jesus Christ, the Word of God, as the grounds and foundation. Only in this way can they maintain their identity from the ensnaring insinuation of the enemies, the deceivers, false teachers who hold enticingly false ideologies and teachings.
The Word made flesh, the only begotten Son of the Father, came and vested Himself with His creature’s image. More than 2000 years have passed but the echo of the Word of God is still very relevant today especially for the youth whose vulnerability to the complexity of modern and secular world has fatigued and anesthetized their moral values.
THE WORD OF GOD AS SOURCE OF COMFORT FOR THE STRESSED YOUTH
In this period of anxiety and too much preoccupation, the youth’s faculty and faith have been jeopardized. His life has been almost always synonymous to stress, all because of his bondage to the secular world thus subjecting his freedom to perversion. His being- the youth’s existence is suffering from alienation. With all these atmospheres that engulf the contemporary youth, the Word of God offers comfort to the anxious, alienated and stressed young ones. Who could fail to feel the comfort brought about by the idea of a God identifying himself with his lowly creature? Who could not be moved by the comforting sound that the Word resonates: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28-30)
THE WORD OF GOD AS SYMBOL OF UNITY
Life has advanced so vastly in the field of scientific research and technology in the last hundred years. Man has been in the space to and fro. He has made remarkable breakthroughs in the field of medicine, genetics, transportation, agriculture, communication and many others. Yes we conquered many and different horizons. Modern technologies have brought dramatic changes in the way people lived. Thanks to modern technology life is made more convenient and fun.
The young ones today spend more and more time to computer, T.V., or cell phone screens. Today it only takes seconds to connect with long-lost friends and relatives, to search for an assignment, to find a date or romance- thanks to modern technology. Despite all these achieved technological heights there are paradoxical and ironic effects especially to the young ones. The young looks disoriented with himself with his neighbor and with his God. He has become short tempered. He has narrowed viewpoints. Social networking and communication reached another level, but the young ones have less and less communication to his real neighbors. He has virtual friends and cyberkadas instead of real ones. He has a new god- internet and online-game-addictions. Surfing the net, checking an email, update profiles, send message, poke, and upload a photo become part of the daily activities that without going to the café or wi-fi zone even just for a day is very scary for the young ones. Yes, the young ones have less and less time to pray, to go to mass or confession. God has been unimaginable or just virtual one.
The Word of God, Christ Jesus, is the perfect symbol and model of unity for the disunited youth. When Christ took on the flesh of man, He united Himself with him. This shows that God is a God of unity. This is a reminder that life ought to be always a union towards oneself, towards others and most especially towards God.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
THE WORD OF GOD IS PARTICIPATIVE CONTRARY TO SOFA-HAPPINESS
Sociologically, the Word of God is also relevant to the youth in the society. To arrive at this affirmation, the consideration of the Word’s incarnation must be taken into consideration. This incarnation is a revelatory of the participation which is evocative in the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Word Incarnate. By the very fact that the Incarnate Word is a participation in the divine plan of salvation, it has also a great implication for the youth of today. The Word presented a model of participation to the other, to the society and to the Church. The youth of today ought to participate also, just as Jesus. This is because, according to Pope Benedict XVI, the Church depends on them. She needs their lively faith, their creative charity and the energy of their hope.
Pope Francis said during the World Youth Day (WYD) at Krakow, Poland that “[t]he times we live in do not call for young ‘couch potatoes’ but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced. It only takes players on the first string, and it has no room for bench-warmers.” He also warned the youth against the “sofa-happiness,” calling it the most “harmful and insidious form of paralysis.” He said that, “a sofa makes us feel comfortable, calm, safe,” away from any kind of pain or fear, spending hours playing video games or in front of a computer screen. He said it’s a dangerous paralysis because as “we start to nod off” other people, “more alert” but “not necessarily better, decide our future for us.”
For many people, the pope warned, it’s better to have drowsy, tone-deaf and dull kids who confuse happiness with a sofa than having young people who are alert and searching, trying to respond to God’s dream and to all the restlessness present in the human heart, the pope said, adding that they hadn’t come into this world to vegetate, to take it easy but to leave a mark. But when we opt for ease and convenience, for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price indeed: we lose our freedom. Following Jesus, the pope continued, demands courage and a readiness to change the couch for walking shoes. God is encouraging you to dream. He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different, Francis said.
The Church and the society need the youth because their presence renews, it rejuvenates and provides energy. There is a necessity for the youth to live a life of participation- a life of give and take relationship. This life of “participation” requires immediate being- there (incarnation), it requires direct involvement. It is exactly the same immediate being-there, direct involvement and “participatio” when God participated in man’s being. The Word of God was sent to participate directly-immediately.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)
The youth is vulnerable, easily swayed by the secular insinuations but there is the Word of God, Jesus Christ as the perfect foundation and ground for growth and maturity in the faith.
The Word of God gives tender loving care. He gives comfort despite the many stressful atmospheres in this age of complexity, anxiety and to much preoccupation which disintegrate and break the stillness of the youth’s being.
The distantiation of the youth from himself, from others and from God due to our age of technological advancement creates a gap, a disunity from oneself, from others and sad to say from God who gives meaning to life. Despite all these, the Word resounds relevantly that life is a unity- never an isolation. The Word of God reminds the youth furthermore that life is an “immediate being-there which requires direct involvement.”