God’s Word and young people
In Christus Vivit Pope Francis asks: “What does the Word of God have to say about young people?” (CV 5). Francis then draws upon “some of the richness of the Sacred Scriptures, since they often speak of young people and of how the Lord draws near to encounter them” (CV 5). Francis cites examples from both Old and New Testaments.
Francis notes: “In an age when young people were not highly regarded, some texts show that God sees them differently. Joseph, for example, was the youngest of his family (cf. Gen 37:2-3), yet God showed him great things in dreams and when only seventeen years old he outshone all his brothers in important affairs (cf. Gen 37-47)” (CV 6).
“Samuel was still a young boy, yet the Lord spoke to him. Thanks to the advice of an adult, he opened his heart to hear God’s call: ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening’ (1Sam 3:9-10). As a result, he became a great prophet who intervened at critical moments in the history of his country” (CV 8).
Additional Youth Models. Continuing his Scriptural Reflections, Pope Francis affirms that God continues to use the youth to achieve his purposes. “King David was chosen while still a boy. When the prophet Samuel was seeking the future king of Israel, a man offered as candidates his sons who were older and more experienced. Yet, the prophet said that the chosen one was the young David.” Why? “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (CV 9).
“Solomon, when he had to succeed his father, felt lost and told God: ‘I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act’ (1 Kg 3:7). Yet, the audacity of youth moved him to ask God for wisdom and he devoted himself to his mission. Something similar happened to the prophet Jeremiah.” Pope Francis affirms that the call and mission of various youth in the Old Testament “shows what can happen when the brashness [boldness] of youth is joined to the power of God” (CV 10).
Some Gospel Insights. Employing the New Testament, Pope Francis penetrates deeply into a “youthful,” vibrant faith. Francis writes: “In the Gospel of Matthew we find a young man (Mt 19:20-22) who approaches Jesus and asks if there is more that he can do; in this, he demonstrates that youthful openness of spirit which seeks new horizons and great challenges. Yet, his spirit was not really that young, for he had already become attached to riches and comforts. He said he wanted something more, but when Jesus asked him to be generous and distribute his goods, he realized that he could not let go of everything he had…. He had given up his youth” (CV 18).
Also, in Matthew (25:1-13), the Gospel “speaks about a group of wise young women, who were ready and waiting, while others were distracted and slumbering.” The Pope notes: “We can, in fact, spend our youth being distracted, skimming the surface of life, half-asleep, incapable of cultivating meaningful relationships or experiencing the deeper things in life. In this way, we can store up a paltry and unsubstantial future. Or we can spend our youth aspiring to beautiful and great things, and thus store up a future full of life and interior richness” (CV 19).
Conclusion. Indeed, God can and does speak to the heart—at any age! Happily, this same Scriptural pattern continues to unfold in the Church today!