Author: BORJ DISTURA

A dealer of paltry words, a famished reticent rhymester and a vicious versifier.

CONSIDERATIONS IN TEACHING IN A DIGITAL LANDSCAPE

At the outset, let us look at the landscape of the world as regards communications which I limited only to the three factors namely the internet, television and cell phone.

INTERNET

ITU World Telecommunication estimated that “The world is home to 7 billion people, one third of which are using the Internet. Forty five percent (45%) of the world’s Internet users are below the age of 25. Over the last five years, developing countries have increased their share of the world’s total number of Internet users from 44% in 2006, to 62% in 2011.[1]” The survey also added that younger people tend to be more online than older people in both developed and developing countries. In developing countries, 30% of those under the age of 25 use the Internet, compared to 23% of those 25 years and older.

 In another internet use survey by world region distribution, Asia has the biggest percentage of internet users averaging in 44% while Europe ranks second only with the average of 22.7% internet users.[2]

There are about 1.8 billion households worldwide and one-third of these households have internet access compared to only one-fifth five years ago. And 25% of homes in developing countries possess a computer and of the 25%, 20% have internet access.[3]

TELEVISION

In another survey held by A.C. Nielsen Co. as regards TV statistics in the U.S., observes that the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of non-stop TV-watching per year. Almost all households possess at least one TV set and Americans spend an average of 250 billion hours annually in watching TV.[4]

CELL PHONES

Another form of digital communication is the mobile phone or cell phone. ITU World Telecommunication[5] reports that there are almost 6 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions. With 5.9 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions, global penetration reached 87% and 79% in the developing world. And according to the same survey, active broadband subscriptions reached almost 1.2 billion and a total of 159 economies worldwide have launched 3G services commercially and the number of active mobile-broadband subscriptions has increased. Mobile-broadband is often the only access method available to people in developing countries, the report adds.

THE DIGITAL AGE: What’s not to like?

Since the appearance of advanced electrical/electronic signals in the late 1920’s the world underwent a rapid change in the way people behave, think and the way people communicate. From a simple visual signal of fire and smoke, from simple audio signals like trumpets and drums, we now have very advanced and complex forms of visual and audio signals. We are now in the digital world of communication. What is not to like in this digital age of communication? It takes only seconds to connect with friends. It is now very easy to research for an assignment. With a click or two, you can enter into a vast source of available materials in the web. Having trouble locating your long lost relative? Or classmates?Or colleagues?Not a problem anymore, thanks to social networks. Here you can even see information about their status, their occupation, address and what they are up to.

Did you miss your favorite noontime show or your favorite drama series? It’s not a problem anymore as long as you are connected to the web, because you can always download them. Gone were the days of beeper, pay phones and radio handsets. We now have cell phones in all sizes, shapes and colors with all those installed applications of your choice. They come even with camera and radio and even TV and a whole lot more. No previous generation has been blessed with the means of communication like ours. And still new vistas in communications are constantly opening up today and in the future.

TEACHING: Employing the New Media of Social Communications

These advanced forms of communications also affect the way we communicate and teach. The modern media of social communication are cultural factors that play a role. As the Second Vatican Council remarks, “although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress clearly from the increase of the kingdom of Christ”, nevertheless “such progress is of vital concern to the kingdom of God, insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human society”.[6] Considering the media of social communication in this light, we see that they “contribute greatly to the enlargement and enrichment of men’s minds and to the propagation and consolidation of the kingdom of God”.[7]

Pope Benedict XVI in his message[8] for the Catholic Church’s 2010 World Day for Social Communications, called on the ministry to use the latest technologies, such as Web sites and blogs, to preach the gospel and encourage a dialogue with their practitioners. In his message, Pope Benedict told the people that church communities have traditionally relied on modern media to open the lines of communication. And as the culture changes, the church needs to use the latest technologies, especially if it wants to reach younger people.

HINDRANCES: Disadvantages of the New Media of Social Communications

There are hindrances also. There are disadvantages as regards these new media of social communication. Although referring to communication of and in the family, these hindrances can also affect the bigger picture of the society and hence the teaching too. According to Anthony G. Roman in his article Building Digital Bridges, some factors hindering authentic communication of and in the family are television, Internet, cellular phones.[9] Roman adds, “Many other facts can be added to this; facts about how families and communities are robbed of opportunities for authentic communication, dialogue and sharing.”[10] This advantages and disadvantages as regards the new media of social communications bring us into a dilemma, a crisis. But since the Chinese term for crisis consist of two characters namely danger and opportunity, we can therefore still have the possibility of turning this crisis into an opportunity.

OPPORTUNITY: The Positive side of the Possibilities of Crisis

The media is not an all-evil phenomenon, nor a hot bed of vice as some people might think.[11] The Pastoral Instruction Communio et Progressio, magna carta of communications, says modern media have the capacity to carry the message of salvation. “Modern media offer new ways of confronting people with the message of the Gospel… are invaluable helps for Christian education… offer marvelous opportunities to all for considering the implications of their religious convictions through the discussion of events and problems of the day…” and make more interesting the “teaching of Christianity.”[12]

These new forms of social communications offer a place for those who seek religious and faith materials. Many faithful are turning to the Web. [13] In Apr 11, 2004, a newspaper reported that millions of online faithful use Internet for religious info and e-mail.[14]

 SILENCE AND THE WORD: Some Considerations

With all these opportunities that open new avenues for teaching in this new communication landscape and all the many dangers that lurk around these means of social communications two things are to be taken into consideration according to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, namely, silence and the word.

In his message for the 46th World Communications Day issued on January 24, 2012, the Holy Father points out that the relationship of silence and word, which is an important aspect of the human process of communication, is often overlooked.[15]

[Silence and the word must] be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved. When word and silence become mutually exclusive, communication breaks down, either because it gives rise to confusion or because, on the contrary, it creates an atmosphere of coldness; when they complement one another, however, communication acquires value and meaning.[16]

Silence is very important as we communicate as we communicate God’s word and as we communicate to the Word. Silence allows us to listen and understand clearly ourselves and the words we want to say. Silence allows us to understand not only ourselves but others as well and thus creating a deeper mutual understanding.

Not only that, the Holy Father also adds that silence gives way for deeper reflection which is important in determining what is essentially relevant from what is insignificant.

Contemporary man continues to ask ultimate questions of human existence but he is bombarded with enormous amount of ideas, unfamiliar questions and answers he has never asked. Search engines and social networks offer these unfamiliar ideas, questions and answers. In the face of these overwhelming upsurges of data, silence offers a path for him to discern properly.

Silence is an important state that can help man to rediscover himself and that Truth which gives meaning to all things. God is a God of silence and speaks by the mystery of his silence as seen in the cross of Jesus Christ which echoes the eloquence of God’s love.

In one interview with Cardinal Tagle, he said that “the church must discover the power of silence. Confronted with the sorrows, doubts and uncertainties of people she cannot pretend to give easy solutions,” he said. “In Jesus, silence becomes the way of attentive listening, compassion and prayer. It is the way to truth.” (attenditus, from Latin. attentus “heedful, observant.” It is a sense of “actively ministering to the needs and wants” of another person).

Tagle suggested that silence would be one signal of a new spirit of humility. “The church’s humility, respectfulness and silence might reveal more clearly the face of God in Jesus,” he told the synod. Bishop Tagle also said that “we see in our time so much exchange of words happening at high speed and across national boundaries. But unfortunately the world is as divided as ever. Why is communion not achieved in spite of the exchange of words?”

There are two ironies here. First, how can it be to evangelize through silence since proclaiming the message entails one to speak? Second, with such position of Bishop Tagle he was made VP of the Synod for the Message. Let us consider silence (as attentive listening according to Bp Tagle) and the word and take a look into it.

SILENCE: Effective Way to Teach and Preach

If God speaks to us even in silence, we in turn discover in silence the possibility of speaking with God and teaching about God. In speaking of God’s grandeur, our language will always prove inadequate and must make space for silent contemplation. Out of such contemplation springs forth, with all its inner power, the urgent sense of mission, the compelling obligation to communicate that which we have seen and heard” so that all may be in communion with God (1 Jn 1:3). Silent contemplation immerses us in the source of that Love who directs us towards our neighbors so that we may feel their suffering and offer them the light of Christ, his message of life and his saving gift of the fullness of love.[17]

Through silent contemplation, the Word of God, Jesus Christ is being incarnated, being born, being made present anew. The Word that which is not outdated but ever present and up-to-date, is Jesus our very own contemporary who continues to make us aware share in the plan of salvation that God is accomplishing by word and deed. And as sharers of this work of God we too preach salvation in our humble way “asheralds of hope and salvation, witnesses of that love which promotes human dignity and builds justice and peace.”[18]

The Holy Father concludes his message affirming the importance of silence and word in proclaiming Christ in this contemporary period, he favorably said: both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church’s work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today’s world.


[1] http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/facts/2011/index.html

[2]http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.

[3] http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/facts/2011/index.

[4] http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.

[5] http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/facts/2011/index.

[6] Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium etSpes, 39.

[7]Vatican Council II, Decree on the Media of Social Communications Inter Mirifica,

[8]Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the 44th World Communications Day “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word”

[9]Building Digital Bridges: Considerations for the ministry in the Emerging Communication Landscape, Anthony G. Roman. Available at http://www.fabc.org/offices/osc/docs/pdf/

[10]Building Digital Bridge, p 3.

[11]Building Digital Bridge, p 5.

[12]Pastoral Instruction CommunioetProgressio 126-131.

[13]San Jose Mercury NewsApril 8, 2004.

[14]Chicago Sun-TimesApril 11, 2004.

[15]Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the 46th World Communications Day.  Available at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/communications/documents.

[16]Ibid.

[17]Ibid.

[18]Ibid.

DESENSITIZATION OF FAITH

The Church affirms the profound crisis of faith caused by much concern of Christians for the social, cultural and political consequences of their commitment while denying the presupposition of faith.

A crisis is both a danger and at the same time, an opportunity. The Holy Father wants that this crisis be an opportunity for rediscovery and a renewal of a desensitized faith. We must not accept that the salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden (cf. Mt. 5:13-16).[1]

The people today can still experience the need to go to the well, like the Samaritan woman, in order to hear Jesus, who invites us to believe in him and to draw upon the source of living water welling up within him (cf. Jn 4:14).[2]

Can we turn this crisis into an opportunity of rediscovery and renewal of our faith? To answer this we must first know some of the reasons of this crisis, in this case in philosophical terrain because faith involves reason. And at the end offer some proposals for the spring time of faith.

In his book Christian Philosophy, Fr. Joseph M. de Torre states that, “there is a trend for practical atheism which sometimes not only practical; i.e. living as if God did not exist, ignoring altogether but full conscious and theoretical people who are openly godless, and they say so.”[3]

This trend of religious indifference in the twentieth century is an undeniable fact today. It is true that vast and increasing numbers of men looked upon God as dead and gone.

This trend or spiritual climate was at first largely dominated by Nietzsche and followed by Marx, whose philosophies did much to disturb settled beliefs and to create totally new ideas and attitudes.

Atheism has from the dawn of creation, been the great temptation for intelligent creatures. Many philosophers succumbed to this temptation. Consider Feuerbach who asserted that humanity becomes God; for Nietzsche, God becomes superman and for Marx, God is the cosmic classless society. Others consider God as mere passion of the heart; while others consider God as myth of the modern ideology; still others say that God has become a victim of man or the reverse.

The General Catechetical Directory, a post conciliar document of the II Vatican Council affirms this problem of atheism. It says that, “very many people gradually fall into religious indifference or run the risk of preserving a faith which lacks the necessary dynamism and real influence in their lives.”[4]

The problem is not only with the ordinary people. The document also stresses that the problem also affected many baptized people. In section seven of the same document, it affirms: “many baptized people have become so distanced from religion that they profess religious indifference or, almost atheism.”[5]

The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) states that: “atheism must therefore be regarded as one of the most serious problems of our time, and one that deserves more thorough treatment.”[6]

Atheism is of two kinds. Archbishop Gordoncillo wrote:

Atheists can be practical or theoretical. Practical atheists are those who, although in doctrine admit the existence of God, in real life are living or acting as though for them God does not exist; while theoretical atheists are those who in doctrine do not admit of the existence of God.[7]

 At this point we might as well ask what caused people to expressly deny the existence of God. What caused others to maintain that man cannot make any assertion what so ever about Him? Or what caused others to languish in their faith? Or what caused others to affirm man while denying God?

We can ask many questions about the cause of atheism, but from the above questions we single out the main question i.e. What caused the decline of man’s belief in a Supreme Being? Fr. de Torre in his book Christian Philosophy asked a quite similar question: “How did we come to this situation (religious indifference)?”[8]

According to him there are reasons why so. First, he said: “very often the so-called atheists are people who have not studied their faith seriously. Religious ignorance is rampant, and particularly damaging among educated people who are becoming the majority.”[9]

But research would tell us that the great apostles of atheism who ushered its growth were not ignorant in a sense but are considered giants having great minds i.e. wise, e.g. Comte, Sartre, Heidegger, Tillich and Robinson among others. We will be putting ourselves into jeopardy if we hold that they are religiously ignorant so much so if we hold that they have seriously studied and totally grasped their faith.

“The age of Kant, Hegel, Comte, Renan, Taine and Marx had gone much further. The various…efforts of those minds led to the rejection of any faith whatsoever in a Transcendent Being… The God of Christian revelation now found himself disputed.”[10]

The Second Vatican Council also states that: “atheism is born…from the fact that certain human ideals are wrongfully invested with such an absolute character as to be taken for God.”[11]

Those giants but religiously ignorant men clothed wrongfully those ideals. Take for example the ubermensch of Nietzsche or Marx’s cosmic classless society as having absolute character.

Secondly, the rapid growth of materialism in the way people live and think is another reason.[12] According to him there are people who are also materialist in life and practice: they take material values as the supreme values in life, such as wealth, strength, comfort and health.

There is nothing wrong with all the material comfort but what is wrong is to consider them as the highest standards and eventually be blinded by it.

Vatican II council affirms this: “… because it (modern civilization) is so engrossed in the concerns of this world, (obsession into the world) can make it harder to approach God.”[13]

With too much concern and identification of man with the world often develop into prolonged, permanent, spiritual separation of man from his Transcendent Creator.

Lost in the love of the ever-present and splendid universe, the creature comes to possess himself, his society and his world as if they were exclusively his own.[14]

Thus atheism arises from a mentality and attitude which involves a flight from the invisible to the visible, from the transcendent toward the immanent, from spiritual toward the material in such a way that not only are the invisible, transcendent, spiritual rejected as dimensions of reality but they are denied existence itself.[15]

Positivism, which is quite similar to materialism is hard to distinguish from the latter and seemed willing to share the field of thought with it, holds that “the sole reality that truly counts is that which affects the senses and is perceived by the human intellect.”[16]

Materialism therefore pushes the individual to prefer himself and the world (that which is material) over and above God, the Invisible, Transcendent and Spiritual Being.

Lastly, the believers themselves caused others to languish in their belief. The way supposed-to-be-believers live lives and witness their faith sometimes can be considered as the culprit of the decline in religious aspects.

“Believers can have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and religion.”[17]

We might as well ask what’s the difference between a consistent hardened sinner who still believes from a practical atheism?

Both i.e. the believer and the atheist, break the bond of communion with God. But the sinner’s practical atheism is not so much a denial of God’s existence. The believer still clings to the cadaver of faith as a last link with God.

The believer-sinner or the practical atheist is a scandal to his fellowmen, encouraging religious indifference and even, at times, complete unbelief in those they scandalize.

In the scriptures, the Pharisees are like pseudo-follower of God and they try to reduce Him to their image and likeness, one that suits to their worldly plans

To top it all, it is very obvious from the above reasons and observations that the first shoots of indifference arise from the infidelity of man to his God. The causes of atheism always remain within the creature himself not to any other. Fr. Vincent Miceli writes:

“What the atheist does not see is that in rejecting God he rejects himself. In refusing to give himself in spirit to God, he refuses to transcend himself… In effect he banishes from the infinite visibility of God… God no longer influences his life or his world because God…no longer lives or exists everywhere.”[18]

After considering some of the reasons and causes, what can we offer for the rediscovery and renewal of our faith in crisis?

First, the renewal of the Church can be achieved through the witness of the believer in the face of the upsurge of materialism and secularism. The believer’s existence in the world is one that is expected to illumine and radiate the word of truth of the Gospel.

Second, the call to be committed to commitment is an avenue for rediscovering the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. Through this commitment to love the faith makes this very same faith to grow in as much as it is lived as an experience of love.

And lastly, it is through believing that others are strengthened and oneself too. So it is in believing that faith grows and become stronger.


[1] Ibid, 3.

[2] Ibid, 5.

[3] J. de Torre. Christian Philosophy, Vera-Reyes, Inc., Philippines, 1989, p. 6.

 

[4] A. Flannery, ed.  Vatican Council II: More Postconciliar Documents, Vol II, Paulines Publishing House, Pasay, Philippines, 2000, p.534.

[5] Ibid. p. 534

[6] A. Flannery, ed.  Vatican Council II: The Conciliar Documents and Post Conciliar Documents, Vol I, Paulines Publishing House, Pasay, Philippines, 2000, p.918.

[7] O. Gordoncillo. Theodicy Notes.____________, Roxas City, 2006, p. 29.

[8] Cf. Christian Philosophy p. 6

[9] Ibid. p. 6.

[10] H. Daniel-Rops, A Fight for God, J. Warrington (trans.), London, J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd., 1966, p. 12.

[11] Cf. Gaudium et Spes (GS) 19

[12] Cf. Christian Philosophy p. 6.

[13] Cf. GS 19

[14] V. Miceli, S.J., The Gods of Atheism, Arlington House, New York, 1971, pp. 1-2.

[15] Ibid.  p. 2.

[16] Cf. A Fight for God, p. 12.

[17] GS 19 § 3.

[18] V. Miceli S.J., The Gods of Atheism, Arlington House, New York, 1971, pp. 11-12.

 

COMMUNION ET  MISSIO

It is not to be mistaken that it is not only the men of cloth and the religious men and women who are called to missionary activities in the church. This call to mission is universal. In this article, I will dwell more on the mission of the laity in this universal call.

In treating the call of God to all people I wish to discuss two things – communion and mission respectively. This treatment is based on the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici of His Holiness John Paul II on the vocation and the mission of the lay faithful in the church and in the world.

The analogy of the St. Pope John Paul II gives us the idea about laity as the laborers in the vast vineyard of the Lord – this vast vineyard of the Lord is taken to signify the world where there is so much work to be done and so much tasks to be accomplished. The pope said in the opening words of his apostolic exhortation:

The lay members of Christ’s Faithful People…are those who form that part of the People of God which might be likened to the laborers in the vineyard mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel: “For the Kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard” (Mt 20:1-2).[1]

From here we can say already that all are called to be laborers of God in his vineyard including the lay faithful. From here we can say further the call to communio and the missio of the laity. First, the laity is in communio with all the laborers in the vineyard and secondly, his missio is to labor.

 

THE CALL

From that distant day the call of the Lord Jesus “You go into my vineyard too” never fails to resound in the course of history: it is addressed to every person who comes into this world.[2]

The call is a concern not only of clergy and men and women religious. The call is addressed to everyone: lay people as well are personally called by the Lord, from whom they receive a mission on behalf of the Church and the world.

The laity, finding themselves in the very place where the interaction between the Church and the world is most visible and concrete, are simultaneously being called upon in a special way to accept their part in the Church’s mission.[3]

The Church becomes aware of the value of the laity by looking at the great contribution that the laity has been giving to the Church. The Synod of Bishops reflecting upon the mission and vocation of the laity in the church and in the world publicly expressed its gratitude to the lay faithful. The Synod said: “We give thanks that during the course of the Synod we have not only rejoiced in the participation of the lay faithful (both men and women auditors), but even more so in that the progress of the Synodal discussions has enabled us to listen to those whom we invited, representatives of the lay faithful from all parts of the world, from different countries, and to profit from their experience, their advice and the suggestions they have offered out of love for the common cause.”

 

THEIR MISSIO IS TO BE IN COMMUNIO

The lay faithful today must be in communio with the life and mission of the Church. Many lay faithful have to become aware of the Church’s responsibility to the world. The faithful should also be formed about this responsibility. That is why in chapter five of the apostolic exhortation the Holy Father teaches that the faithful must also be formed that you bear much fruit. The Pontiff said that the gospel image of the vine and the branches reveals to us another fundamental aspect of the lay faithful’s life and mission: the call to growth and a continual process of maturation, of always bearing much fruit.

The lay must be in communio with the Church’s responsibility in the world because through them the Church has the opportunity of making her present in the real life situations of human existence. Their utmost response to this communio would mean a maturation of the Church’s effectiveness in her mission.

What can their communio in the Church imply? Well, we can reflect from here that by their communio they can bear witness to the timeliness of the Redemption of Jesus Christ in building a more just world to live in. Their participation in the communio can combat the mentality of secularism that is very much present in the world today depriving human existence of its authentic meaning. Not only that, the laity in communio can also lessen the serious phenomenon of disintegration brought by secularism in the world. Further, their communio can lead the laity into a social awareness regarding the problem in the world like hunger, poverty, moral corruption and a bunch of many other serious problems. In being a communio, they cannot but be disturbed with a creative disturbance by giving and offering solutions to these problems and not just by being indifferent towards those pressing problems.

To conclude, Christians are called by God to a personal relationship with Him in love. And from this call also comes the personal dignity of the laity – the thought and the fact that each one of them has been called by God himself and invited to a personal relationship with Him. This communio of love must be manifested in concrete aspect on the part of the one called. Hence, their mission is to participate in the communio as concrete as it can be in the love and charity patterned before God and patterned according to the mind of the Church.


[1] Christifideles Laici on the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World (John Paul II) no. 1. Henceforward CL.

[2] CL  2.

[3] Instrumentum Laboris on the Vocation and mission of the Laity in the Church and the World Twenty Years after the Second Vatican Council (Synod of Bishops) 1.

THE YOUTH AND THE WORD OF GOD

“Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (Col. 2:7) 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 fell 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 cyber-kadas 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

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.

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)

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

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.”