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Father Muench Says...

Sharing faith with youthful enthusiasm

April 29, 2015

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I am often asked where I find the ideas to share with people each Sunday.  We priests are instructed to preach a homily each Sunday and the homily is to be based on the Scripture readings for the Mass.  However, to make the message interesting, we search for some ideas that will make Jesus’ message more alive to the people of a parish. 

Recently, an idea sprung to my mind, right during Mass – out of the blue.  I had a homily prepared and then another idea came to me.

Now I know what you will tell me – that I, a priest, should have realized that it was simply God’s way of letting me know that God had a better idea for me that day to share.

What happened was this: I had carefully prepared a homily for a weekend Mass, one of the Sundays of the Easter season.  Then at the first Mass that weekend another idea jumped out at me when I proclaimed the opening prayer of the Mass, the collect.  Right away, I recognized a better thought than what I had prepared.

Here is the prayer: “May your people exult forever, O God, is renewed youthfulness of spirit so that rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption, we may look forward in confident hope in the rejoicing of the day of resurrection.”

In this prayer, the Church encourages us all to pray for that Easter hope that gives us all confidence to live in the joy of Our Savior by developing a spirit of youthfulness.

Right away I realized that this would be a perfect challenge for the people – discovering Christ’s life and love by becoming more youthful.  Jesus said as recorded in the Gospels “Unless you become like a little child, you will not enter the Kingdom of God.” 

The Spirit of Easter that Jesus brings to us in his resurrection is a youthful spirit.  This is the way we are able to live a good life and bring message to this world – when we live in that youthful spirit. 

So, I quickly thought about what it means to be youthful.  First of all, I thought of enthusiasm. A youthful spirit doesn’t do things halfway; a youthful spirit means being excited and joyful. A disciple of Christ discovers in faith the joy and excitement of the message of Christ.  It should take over his or her life. 

This message of Jesus should put enthusiasm into efforts to make one’s life better.  With a strong faith this enthusiasm will make us friends of Jesus.  As Christians, we are challenged to live like Jesus. May people see that spirit of Jesus in our lives.  Pope Francis said this, “Christians should not look like people that just came from a funeral.”

There is so much more in that idea of youthfulness.  Youths don’t like to be left out and a Christian does not want to be left out. When there are opportunities to bring Jesus into their world, they are ready to do something.  This youthfulness brings an openness and readiness to accept the challenge of making the world a better place.

Youthfulness means a spirit of joy; it brings to our Christian way of life a spirit of joy and happiness.  This joy truly brings Jesus’ love and peace to all that we do. 

From the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People of the Second Vatican Council: - speaking of young people and their spirit –

“Carried along by their natural ardor and exuberant energy, when awareness of their own personality ripens in them they shoulder responsibilities that are theirs and are eager to take their place in social and culture life.  If this enthusiasm is penetrated with the spirit of Christ, animated by a sense of obedience and love towards the pastors of the Church, a very rich harvest can be expected from it.  The young should become the first apostles of the young, in direct contact with them, exercising the apostolate by themselves among themselves, taking account of their social environment.”

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