Educating Young People in Justice and Peace

This being the 50th year anniversary of the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church is celebrating this by inaugurating this year as the “Year of Faith.” The Church is inviting us to reflect on the very core message of the Gospel and to reawaken in us the root of our faith which is in Jesus Christ. There is a powerful phrase that is used in the Catholic Mass which perhaps can serve us as a basis for this reflection: “May we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”  If we reflect on these words we may find ourselves a bit uneasy as we realize that our faith in Christ is not merely about affirming the divinity of Jesus who we acknowledge as a savior. In professing this statement we acknowledge our own participation in the salvific plan that God has for humanity. We may find ourselves call to share in the good news of the Gospel, the news that God wishes to transform the world in accordance to his vision of justice and peace.

In his message calling for this “Year of Faith” Pope Benedict XVI again invites us to participate in what he calls a “commitment to new evangelization.” This commitment is geared towards bringing in a new generation of disciples and to instill in them the commitment not only to profess Christ but to be Imagemissionaries of God’s love throughout our society and the world. This is the appeal that was made in the beginning of this year when Pope Benedict offered the 2012 World Day of Peace Message on “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace.” This message of hope was based on the expressed concern of the youth throughout the world and culminated in global popular movements such as the “Occupy” movement here in the US.

The concerns expressed in recent times by many young people around the world demonstrate that they desire to look to the future with solid hope. At the present time, they are experiencing apprehension about many things: they want to receive an education which prepares them more fully to deal with the real world, they see how difficult it is to form a family and to find stable employment; they wonder if they can really contribute to political, cultural and economic life in order to build a society with a more human and fraternal face.

Our Catholic Church recognizes the hopes and aspirations of the younger members of our society who recognize quite clearly the troubled situation that they face. In this message the Church is commissioning us to respond by offering the young adults a vehicle where they can engage with a holistic spirituality of communion with one another and fired up with the spirit of truth, solidarity and charity. By pursuing the truth this community will reflect further what they already perceive, that there is a great social suffering that they can attest to and that it is based on a social, spiritual and economic poverty of isolation. This community already recognizes a spirit of solidarity which shapes how they perceive the truth of their own authentic human dignity, a dignity that they should celebrate in themselves but that they must recognize with each other and with their global brothers and sisters.

May we be able to respond to the invitation of our Church in offering our young adult community a formation process where they can become dynamic agents of divine transformation and social change. The 2012 World Day of Peace message gives us a good recommendation for the appropriate setting that could make this happen.

Every educational setting can be a place of openness to the transcendent and to others; a place of dialogue, cohesiveness and attentive listening, where young people feel appreciated for their personal abilities and inner riches, and can learn to esteem their brothers and sisters. May young people be taught to savour the joy which comes from the daily exercise of charity and compassion towards others and from taking an active part in the building of a more humane and fraternal society.


About jdgonzo73

I am a Catholic lay minister in the field of Christian ethics, Latino theology and Paulacrucian spirituality. I am currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Fordham, an ad-junct professor at Molloy College and St. John's University and the Project Coordinator with the Catholic Roundtable.
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