The reason why so many (of) YOUth are miserable – Joel 2:12-18
As we prepare for the season of Lent, I would like to reflect with YOUth on the first reading that the Church offers us on Ash Wednesday. This is will be a series spanning over a few days.
How seriously do you take the season of Lent? While this question may be pertinent to all ages, I want to address this question particularly to young adults. So, I ask this again, “how seriously do you take this season of Lent”? What does the Lenten season mean to you?
The Church has a direct message with no compromise. Take your foot off the accelerator, slow down and take the next U turn back to God. But perhaps these lines are so simply spelt out, perhaps the hopes and aspirations of your life are spinning so fast in your head that you just felt compelled to turn up the car radio, pretend you did not hear what I just said and zip off, burning more fuel as you hit a hundred and twenty.
The people at the time of the prophet Joel did the same. The book of Joel ranges from the ninth century to the second century B.C., but most scholars agree that this is a post-exilic book—written after Cyrus of Persia freed the Jewish exiles from their Babylonian captivity in 538 B.C. In your lingo, they were bad kids sent off to a seventy-year banishment and when their sentence was lifted (because God was merciful and not because they had done their time) they returned to their homeland with little remorse. They still had their head shoved up so high into their stuffy egos…or read it as you like.
So God stepped in once again. This time it was not just a couple of rumblers or a speed breaker. This time it was four flats all blowing out at the same time in the middle of nowhere. God hit them with a plague. Yup, the pandemic is not a once in a lifetime event meant for a bygone era. When that too did not work, he sent in an invading army with the hope that they would recognize their folly and turn back to him. He even took credit for hitting them hard. If you don’t believe me, read Joel 2: 25 where God admits, “my great army which I sent against you.”
Taken from the second of its short book of three chapters, Joel speaks of the blessing that is possible for Israel ( and for YOUth), IF only they would repent. Yet like many young adults today, we see a lack of response to this invitation. The lack of response leads one to ask, “Why? Why are people in general and young people in particular so reluctant to repent even when they know that blessings are waiting that great personal transformation is possible?”
The answer is simple. Repentance necessitates recognition and admission of guilt, of having done wrong, of being sorry for the hurt one caused another. You need to have the guts to say you have sinned and too much of our lives today is lived in justifying our sin. Individually or collectively, propped up by a false sense of self, people would rather live in denial than have a contrite spirit. They are loathe to admit they were mistaken, and say “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me” even to a God who is so forgiving.
With a strong sense of urgency, Joel calls on Israel to ‘give God a try’. So, here is what I would like to share with you as your read this. Give God a try, drop the justifications in your head, admit that sin is a sin no matter how beautifully you have wrapped it with ribbons in your head…find a Church, find a priest…confess! Lent is round the corner and this time is ‘LENT TO YOU’
If this article touches your heart please forward it other people especially to our youth #EvangelizeThisLent