In his opening Mass homily, the Holy Father described Jesus as “eternally young.” When I heard this, it reminded me of a song by the artist, Jay-Z, that was popular a few years ago. The song was entitled “Forever Young,” and it was a remake of a popular tune by the German group, Alphaville, from the 1980s. Jay-Z sang for the young — and for all of us –“I want to live forever and be forever young.”
The image of Jesus as “eternally young” is not only beautiful but powerful. As we deal with the many outside pressures on the Church today, and the problems we also face within our believing community, we need to remember that Jesus is alive and vigorous, and constantly offering his disciples an abundant new life. Thank you, Holy Father, for reminding us of that.
Of course, the Jesus who came into the world as an infant did not end his mission as a youth. He matured into an adult man of courage, self-mastery, and mercy guided by justice and truth. He was a teacher both tender and forceful; understanding and patient — but also very clear about the kind of human choices and actions that would lead to God, and the kind that would not.
The wealthy societies of today’s world that style themselves as “developed” – including most notably my own — are in fact underdeveloped in their humanity. They’re frozen in a kind of moral adolescence; an adolescence which they’ve chosen for themselves and now seek to impose upon others.
The instrumentum does a good job of exploring the roots of that underdevelopment and the challenges to young people that flow from it. But it needs to be much stronger and more confident in presenting God’s Word and the person of Jesus Christ as the only path to a full and joyful humanity. And it needs to do this much earlier in the text.