04/15/2017, 10.51
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An Easter for the Young

by Bernardo Cervellera

In Mark’s Gospel a young man announces the resurrection of Jesus. The crisis of youth: "distrust, indifference, indignation towards institutions", even toward the Church. They learn to live without God and the Church. The importance of next Synod and the testimony of those who are kept "young" through mission.

Rome (AsiaNews) - A dead body, a stiffened corpse, marked by suffering and humiliation, comes back to life and shines, although with signs of the Passion: This is the proclamation - unlikely in the mind of man – that the Church proclaims at Easter. In order to render that proclamation credible and reasonable, theologians explain that the basis of all the Gospels is the empty tomb, a concrete fact experienced by almost 2 thousand years ago in Jerusalem. The recently restored shrine of the Holy Sepulchre, proclaims this joy enveloped in icons, lamps and candles, built on a worn stone: for Christians that tomb is nothing to shrink from, but the foundation of our hope.

The empty tomb alone is not enough to believe. The evangelists speak of "an angel (Matthew), two men (Luke), two angels (John), who explain to the weeping women that the Lord they seek "is not here", he escaped death. Among all, it is striking that the evangelist Mark entrusts this proclamation to a young man: "On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were afraid. But he said to them, "Do not be afraid! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen, he is not here. See the place where they laid him "(Mk 16: 5-6).

This passage sprung to my mind following Pope Francis’ decision to choose youth as the theme for the next Synod in October 2018, namely: "Young people, faith and vocational discernment". The Synod’s preparatory document highlights the general aspects of a crisis in the world of youth (and others): fluidity. Uncertainties, rapid changes, relativism. In fact, in contemporary society, young people are seen and valued as consumers. They are exploited, underpaid or even kept away from the world of work by adults, jealous of their privileges.

This leads young people to feed "distrust, indifference or anger towards the institutions", even toward the Church, increasingly seen as a useless relic of the past. "Young people - the document says – are not 'against', but they are learning to live 'without' the God presented by the Gospel and without the Church".

But in the bigger picture of uncertainties, "young people have a need for persons of reference, who are close-by, credible, consistent and honest, in addition to places and occasions for testing their ability to relate to others (both adults and peers) and dealing with their feelings and emotions. Young people look for persons of reference who are able to express empathy and offer them support, encouragement and help in recognizing their limits, but without making them feel they are being judged".

In the Message for the 32nd World Youth Day, which this year is celebrated at a diocesan level on Palm Sunday, Pope Francis takes up this theme and suggests young people meet with adults and even with their grandparents: " Do you realize how extraordinarily enriching the encounter between the young and the elderly can be? How much attention do you pay to the elderly, to your grandparents? With good reason you want to “soar”, your heart is full of great dreams, but you need the wisdom and the vision of the elderly. Spread your wings and fly, but also realize that you need to rediscover your roots and to take up the torch from those who have gone before.  ... As Mary did with Elizabeth, look to the elderly, to your grandparents. They will speak to you of things that can thrill your minds and fill your hearts."

All this might seem to contradict what we have said previously, that the proclamation of the resurrection was given to a young man. But there is a youth that is of the heart, and can even exceed the stillness and slowness of old age, it is youth gifted by faith and the desire of the mission to communicate the joy that God has conquered death to all. Of my first trip to India, I can still see the image of a nun, Sister Ida a Missionary of the Immaculate (“cousins" of PIME),an octogenarian dancing with the children from the kindergarten. It is the resurrection of Christ that makes everyone, young and old, youthful announcers. Happy Easter.

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