Most of my adult life has been blessed with the opportunity to work with young adults, first in colleges and later in the years after graduation. I always enjoy the humor, intelligence, honesty and searching of this age.
Here in Charlestown, we have whole new generations of young men and women, single, engaged and married. Inevitably well educated and hard-working, the young are seeking to find fulfillment in life. Career choices, friendships, relationships and social life are all a part of the search. For some volunteering is important, and for all some kind of service is respected.
Though perhaps not true of all, I seem to find in many an underlying restlessness among young men and women. No matter how much work, how successful and promising the career path, how well remunerated the job, how brilliant and exciting the social life and how special the relationships with others, there seems to be a pervasive feeling that something’s missing – that there must be something more they are meant to achieve, secure or experience. So the restlessness is met with a choice to do more, accomplish more, acquire more, and see more. The resulting “busyness syndrome” does little other than increase the perceived deficit because it cannot be resolved by more of the same.
As if to exacerbate the sense of incompleteness, from time to time a young adult will meet another who seems to possess an inner happiness, completeness and goodness that is untethered from typical achievements. A person for
whom personal accomplishments are of less importance than working for and within some ideal – one for whom the “other” takes precedence over “self”. Unfortunately our present day culture rewards more what David Brooks calls our “résumé virtues” versus our “eulogy virtues” (New York Times: 4/11/15).
And yet everyone realizes that eulogy virtues are those we most appreciate in another and aspire to in ourselves.
In these Lenten days perhaps a gift each of us can give ourselves is to listen to the restlessness within. I’ve long been convinced restlessness is often a way God’s Spirit is working in our lives – and not just in the young! For if we are honest, most of us would agree whatever our life is about, come-day go-day is not enough. What fulfills and completes ultimately does not come from the outside, but rather from the inside; from the awareness of God’s love for us and our love for one another, and how we live that out.
Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 13/14, 2021
This weekend’s Gospel reading gives us the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee and leader of the Jews who comes to Jesus by night, recognizing Jesus as a teacher from God, but coming in secret for fear of being put out of the synagogue. Jesus rebukes him for his lack of understanding. Good stewards realize that for the sake of this world, God gives his most cherished beloved son. And so they are willing to confess Jesus as their Lord and savior in a public way. They do not keep their faith to themselves, in darkness. The Gospel reading challenges
us to profess our faith in word and deed publicly, not to hide it away. Are we willing to accept the Gospel’s challenge? Are we willing to get out of our personal “comfort zone” and confess our faith in Christ Jesus in an open, tangible way?