A person could easily ask these days, just what exactly is the world coming to? I mean just take a look around. What about this younger generation? They flock to the beach in spite of warnings about COVID. In some places, they fill clandestine bars to capacity indoors, all crowded together in revelry, even in Canada according to some media.
What about this younger generation? What are things coming to? What about young people today? What about the coming generation?
Is that what Jesus means about generations?
Actually, comments such as those remind me of things I remember hearing from those who lived through the Great Depression. “Well sonny, things were different back then: it was rough. Lots of people lost their jobs. Men rode the rails in boxcars to find work. It was really tough. And then there was the dust bowl. That was more in the States but things weren’t good here either. You youngsters don’t know how good you have it.”
I remember hearing about the Second World War, rationing, bad coal for the furnace. And of course if you were an able-bodied male of the proper age, you were in the armed forces and most likely headed overseas to fight. “That’ll make a man of ya,” I heard more than one person say.
The upshot of a lot of this is basically the message that “way-back-when” young people walked everyday up hill to school even in full-out blizzards and ten feet of snow. No school buses either. “And we came home for lunch too,” they’d say. And then they’d point out that they walked uphill both ways.
Ah yes, it does depend on your perspective, doesn’t it.
For what it’s worth, from my experience of young people these days, based on my encounters at Trent [University], I’d say the world is in good hands. The so-called Millennials, and the cohorts who follow them, are fine young women and men. There is hope. A-N-D, due to the way the world is these days, I think they face challenges even more difficult than what we had to face.
Apart from all that, Jesus wasn’t talking about the various generations across the segments of the population alive at any given point in history. He was talking about the generation of the Church Militant on earth in the present at any one time as the ages pass. The Church Militant is the Church in the world today. The Church Triumphant, by the way in simple terms, is the communion of saints. We’re among the Church Militant. It’s the world-wide community of faith comprised of people of all age groups: the young, middle-aged, and elders— those who are following Jesus of Nazareth, those who are disciples of Jesus the Christ in the present age.
"But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon'; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."
Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.
It is difficult to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Paul points that out so honestly and authentically from his own experience. This is a difficult calling, indeed. Think about what you and I have signed on for.
My reading and my understanding of Holy Scripture is that the journey as a disciple is not for the faint of heart. And again, I call attention to Paul’s admissions to us about the challenges he faced. Pretty open disclosure, deeply vulnerable, and shockingly honest. Paul’s sense of mission enabled him to put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, one journey in mission at a time.
So what is our Mission?
What is our Mission in these times, in the midst of COVID and the challenges you and I face in being a disciple in the world today, in this generation of disciples?
We play the flute but the world doesn’t dance. We wail but the world doesn’t always hear. People take extremes: John had a demon; Jesus a glutton and drunkard, hanging out with the wrong kind of people. How the message of Good News becomes twisted or shunned.
As I said, it’s not for the faint of heart.
And to that Jesus says:
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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.
Powerful, very powerful words for the journey, powerful and reassuring words for venturing to the next step.
So, what can we do now that’s different from what we could do a few months ago? What can you and I do now that we could not have done without the impact of COVID?
I am asking you to think about, to pray about, to meditate about what we can do now that we couldn’t do a few months ago.
Beyond the moments of my homily, I am inviting you to think about how to be living the calling of a disciple in the world today. I am inviting you to pray about it.
What is the Mission of a community of disciples now? What is the focus of our vision and plan and how does our sense of calling and Mission, as disciples, inform how and where we focus—where we direct our energy?
I invite you to think about it, meditate about it and pray about it. These are not faint-hearted thoughts, faint-hearted reflections, nor faint-hearted prayers. The process takes time. One step at a time in faith as those who explore and yearn to understand the Teachings of Jesus.
We don’t have to be the super-wise or super-intelligent. We can have the openness, trust, vulnerability and unconditional love demonstrated to us in how any infant embraces the world and grows. We can recapture the wisdom of an infant, you could say.
I invite you to think about this, to ponder this, to pray about this and to listen to what you are hearing in the quiet. Listen for Wisdom. Listen to the Teachings of Jesus.
Jesus was pretty clear about what he meant by Mission. His teaching about Mission is that it is connecting with others and making disciples.
Jesus had learned about Wisdom from studying the sections of the Scriptures known as the Wisdom literature: The Book of Proverbs, The Psalms, Job, The Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, The Book of Wisdom, The Wisdom of Sirach. So remember also what he says about Wisdom. (capital ‘w’)
“Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds”, Jesus tells us. In other words, you can tell something is a product of Wisdom when you see the positive impact it has. May we have the openness and curiosity of a child as we go looking.