Facing a very unsettled world without feeling hopeless is one of the biggest challenges many of our young people deal with these days. Worries about how to get ahead; how to gain some sense of inner peace; how to hold on to faith in God when many of their teachers and peers see it as superstition. How to find hope; where to turn; who to believe? So many questions they struggle with.
The Gospel passage for this Sunday, Father’s Day, [Mt 9:36-10:8] about Jesus calling the twelve Apostles and sending them out on their first missionary journey holds some valuable answers to those questions. But it will take a little discerning on our part of Jesus’ instructions to them for us to draw out what this passage is saying to us in our times.
So many young people today don’t have supportive people around them. And some seem like they’re supportive but they’re actually leading them in the wrong direction. So, I hope this little explanation helps some.
What is the Kingdom of Heaven and what does
“the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” mean?
First of all, we need to recognize that Jesus instructed the Apostles “to go to the lost sheep” [Mt 10:6a] and give them hope by proclaiming “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” [Mt 10:7b]. So, what is the Kingdom of Heaven and what does “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” mean?
The Kingdom of Heaven, as spoken of by Jesus, is not a place, and He was not talking about Heaven; rather it is a state of being, in this life, where God reigns in the hearts of believers such that they transform the world around them. Jesus said it is “at hand” because the long-awaited reuniting of God and man on earth has come about in Jesus Himself. 1 This is the foundation of all hope; there is no greater encouragement that could be offered to mankind in a troubled world than to be in Christ.
We are not asked to stand alone; we are called to stand with others.
So, how do those who experience the Kingdom of Heaven transform the world around them? Thorough prayer, good works, care and compassion for others, and standing up for what is right together with other like-minded people. We are not asked to stand alone; we are called to stand with others. It’s “we believe this; we reject that; we hold to these truths.”
Jesus also instructed those He was sending, “do not go into pagan territory” [Mt 10:5b]. That is: do not spend yourself on those who have no interest in being persuaded. Instead, they were to “go to the lost sheep” [Mt 10:6a] – go to those who are seeking the right path to follow. With them you can make a difference; with them you can be transformative. Don’t be discouraged; transforming hearts happens in the quiet of hearts. It’s not likely you will know whom you have affected. It’s not for you to know, it’s for you to trust. That’s what living in Christ is all about.
You can do this. You, young people have great strengths; you are more self-reliant than any generation before you, you are inventive, you are entrepreneurial, and you are more open to religion in your lives than the generation ahead of you. 2 But you need a sound base to work from in order to discern who to believe and who to avoid.
You might be surprised at the wisdom and insight
your father can offer, if you will just let him.
I suggest you start with a patron saint. Consider the saint you chose at your confirmation. It is a blessing and a great help to have a heavenly friend and counselor in your corner. And, you might be surprised at the wisdom and insight your father can offer, if you will just let him. You might think that because of your age difference that he can’t relate to what you are dealing with. Well, the challenges faced in life are remarkably unchanged, generation after generation.
The details, of course, are different but the challenges are still the same. Most fathers have dealt with bullying, peer pressure, conflict, job loss, failures, relationship troubles, times of doubt. For many, they won’t bring these things up, until you “open the door.” What better time to start drawing on one of the best resources God has given you than on this Father’s Day.
‘Till next time,
Dcn Bob Evans
June 18, 2023
1 . Bishop Robert Barron, “What is the Kingdom of God?” April 2, 2014
2 Pew Research Center Survey, “Generation-Z,” May 2020