Remember to check Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on this link at the Vatican site. Starting with paragraph 12, the Holy Father looks “In the New Testament” for Biblical examples of young people. Here’s one that’s been at Mass and perhaps on our minds lately:
12. One of Jesus’ parables (cf. Lk 15:11-32) relates that a “younger” son wanted to leave his father’s home for a distant land (cf. vv. 12-13). Yet his thoughts of independence turned into dissolution and excess (cf. v. 13), and he came to experience the bitterness of loneliness and poverty (cf. vv. 14-16). Nonetheless, he found the strength to make a new start (cf. vv. 17-19) and determined to get up and return home (cf. v. 20). Young hearts are naturally ready to change, to turn back, get up and learn from life. How could anyone fail to support that son in this new resolution? Yet his older brother already had a heart grown old; he let himself be possessed by greed, selfishness and envy (Lk 15:28-30). Jesus praises the young sinner who returned to the right path over the brother who considered himself faithful, yet lacked the spirit of love and mercy.
The elder brother get a lot of bad press these days. But the Lord turns expectations on their heads. It is not enough to have the outward actions of virtue. Spiritual guides like Pope Francis know God looks deep into the heart. Is the contrition of the son a sign of a young heart? I don’t know that’s necessarily true. But young people can show surprising flexibility compared to self-righteous folks.
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