Read a newspaper, watch the news on television, or listen to a talk show on your car radio and you will hear stories about young people. Some of the stories describe pre-teens and teens who have volunteered their time, broadened their education, and responded to an emergency situation. Other stories describe pre-teens and teens who have disappeared on class trips, who are using drugs, or who have thought out plans to take their own lives or the lives of classmates and people in authority. It seems to me that whenever we hear a story about young people, be it good or be it bad, we hear only a brief description usually given by an adult. It appears that through the years, somehow limits have been established either by young people or adults or perhaps by both on the amount of time young people are given to speak for themselves.
In today’s gospel we hear a story within a story about Jesus healing an adult and giving life back to a young girl. Unfortunately, like our news reporting today, the gospel writer gives more time in the stories to the adults rather than the twelve-year-old girl. She is simply called the daughter of a synagogue official. Like many of our young people today, she went unnamed and unnoticed.
Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from death and restored her to her place in the family. His command to “give her something to eat” reflected the idea that a place at the table was a place in the family, a place in society, and a place with God.
Jesus was aware that young people need to be acknowledged and given a voice by adults. The message of today’s gospel is to do the same and the challenge is to do more. Adults should affirm young people as persons while challenging them to a greater knowledge of God. Adults should invite young people to search for God a little more explicitly and passionately in their daily lives. Adults should make God appealing, inviting, hospitable, welcoming in our attitudes, words, and actions. Adults should be long on hearing young people and short on telling them. Adults should be serious about their own faith development so what they have they can pass on to young people. Young people will only have life if we believe in them, acknowledge them, and support them.
Fr. Bob Kelly
artwork © LPI – Liturgical Publications