Insights from Jesus’ youthful years

Insights from Jesus’ youthful years

The Gospel does not intend to present a full biography of Jesus; however, it provides us with important insights into the very person of Jesus.  In Christus Vivit Pope Francis notes: “The Gospel tells us nothing of Jesus’ childhood, but it does recount several events of his adolescence and youth.  Matthew situates the time of the Lord’s youth between two events: his family’s return to Nazareth after their exile, and Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, the beginning of his public ministry” (CV 24).

“Between these two accounts, we find another scene, which shows Jesus as an adolescent, when he had returned with his parents to Nazareth, after being lost and found in the Temple (cf. Lk 2:41-51).  There we read that ‘he was obedient to them’; he did not disown his family.  Luke then adds that Jesus ‘grew in wisdom, age and grace before God and men.’ … This was a time of preparation” (CV 26).  Truly, like for Jesus, the time of youth and adolescence is pivotal; it forms the person to accomplish one’s mission in life. 

Mission Preparation.  Pope Francis continues: “From what the Gospel tells us, we can say that Jesus, in the years of his youth, was ‘training,’ being prepared to carry out the Father’s plan.  His adolescence and his youth set him on the path to that sublime mission” (CV 27).

During this period of his life, “Jesus’ relationship with the Father was that of the beloved Son.  Drawn to the Father, he grew up concerned for his affairs: ‘Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?’ (Lk 2:49).  Still it must not be thought that Jesus was a withdrawn or a self-absorbed youth.  His relationships were those of a young person who shared fully in the life of his family and his people” (CV 28).

“In fact, Jesus did not grow up in a narrow and stifling relationship with Mary and Joseph, but really interacted with the wider family, the relatives of his parents and their friends.”  On the journey home from Jerusalem, “his parents readily thought that as a twelve-year-old boy, he was wandering freely among the crowd” (CV 29).  Pope Francis concludes: “These aspects of Jesus’ life can prove inspiring for all those young people who are developing and preparing to take up their mission in life” (CV 30). 

Learning from Jesus.  The Church needs to continually look to the ordinary life-experiences of Jesus in its pastoral work with young people.  For Pope Francis, the Church’s engagement with youth should focus on “projects that can strengthen them, accompany them, and impel them to encounter others, to engage in generous service, in mission” (CV 30).

Addressing the youth, Francis asserts: “Jesus does not teach you, young people, from afar or from without, but from within your very youth, a youth he shares with you.  It is very important for you to contemplate the young Jesus as presented in the Gospels, for he was truly one of you, and shares many of the features of your young hearts” (CV 31).

The Gospel reveals a Jesus who “showed profound compassion for the weakest, especially the poor, the sick, sinners and the excluded.  He had the courage to confront the religious and political authorities of his time…,  [always] entrusting himself into the Father’s safe hands in the strength of the Spirit” (CV 31).  Thus, Pope Francis concludes: “In Jesus, all the young can see themselves” (CV 31).