Lately I have been reflecting often about dying and rising, and the prominent place they have taken in my life. The physical deaths of numerous family members, friends, and acquaintances; numerous births, marriages, and other beautiful beginnings; friendships that have ended, and others that have emerged and taken flight; the letting go of some of my deepest, long-held certainties about the world, and the realization that a change in perspective can provide powerful insight. For Christians, our good news is our belief in the resurrection of the dead, our hope that even amid the ashes, goodness, light and life can flourish, if lovingly cultivated and tended to.
I cannot speak for you, but I can tell you that I have spent a fair bit of my own time lamenting among the ashes of that which was. Gnashing of teeth, even. As you might imagine, this is not a life-giving space, and perhaps sheer frustration has led me to grow into a deeper appreciation for the way in which life can guide us to see evidence of truth all around us, even in today’s culture.
In October of this year, the Synod of Bishops will gather in Rome to address the topic “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” The Synod’s preparatory document states:
…the Church has decided to examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today. By listening to young people, the Church will once again hear the Lord speaking in today’s world…the Church can glimpse the world which lies ahead and the paths the Church is called to follow. (Synod of Bishops XV Ordinary General Assembly, 2017)
I thought this was a beautiful example of our openness to listening to the voice of God through our young people, who speak to us not only through their presence among us, but also by their absence. Fans of The Simpson’s might recognize this quote that has always resonated with me. In one episode (Homerpalooza, May 1996), Grandpa Simpson reflects on the changing nature of the world, and he states: “I used to be with it, but then they changed what ‘it’ was, and now what I’m with isn’t it. And what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me.” I see truth in Grandpa Simpson’s satirical statement. How many of us have experienced the feeling he is describing? What to do with the fear we experience when the world around has changed…that feeling of a rug having been pulled from beneath us? One response is to cling to a static worldview, unchanged. Another response is presented in today’s gospel, when Jesus says “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” To me, this is an invitation to transformation. A new covenant. A clean heart. To rise from the ashes.
Archdiocese of Moncton Office of Youth Faith Development