On 8 July 2018, we celebrate Bible Sunday. The Church in Peninsula Malaysia has chosen the theme “YOUNG PEOPLE, FAITH AND VOCATION DISCERNMENT” which is the same theme as that of World Youth Day 2017. The Local Church encourages our young people to welcome the Word of God into their lives and to engage with the Bible in ways that are appropriate to them.
The world is so greatly advanced but the human heart is restless and growing in hopelessness, especially among the younger generation. The Church realises that there is a lack in development of faith and vocation discernment amongst young people. Thus, St. Paul’s writing to Timothy (2 Tim 3:15) recalls that the greatest kindness parents and grandparents can do for their children or grandchildren, is to get them to know the Bible early. Children experience true learning when they understand the Scriptures and Traditions in order to attain salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. There are two areas where parents and teachers can apply Scripture to encourage faith in young people to be disciples of Jesus and these include:
1) Starting them young for their ultimate future.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn away from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This verse reminds parents of their duty to pray with and for their children, instruct and teach them about Christianity, and set good examples of holy life. Within this environment of faith, they will grow in endurance, facing the trials of life and continue to walk in the path of truth and holiness.
2) Rooting our children in faith.
The first seven chapters of the Book of Proverbs exhorts the fear of God and obedience to parents. The fear of the Lord, (Pro 1:7) is about reverence towards God and respect for Him. Parents should instruct godly wisdom to their children so that they will learn to be wise in the present as well as in the future in order to choose the right thing to do. True wisdom comes from the Bible and when we implant these seeds of wisdom in them, surely they will remain in them, even when they grow old. A life which is rooted in faith will help our children stay in Church till the end.
Two areas young people can apply Scriptures to develop their faith and vocation discernment include:
1) Rekindle the Gift of God.
St. Paul reminds us “to stir the flame of the gift of God that is within you…” (2 Tim 1:6). Young people are urged to watch and fan the flame in their hearts, to keep it burning brightly. They ought to set the flame ablaze by daily prayer, meditating on the things of God, using their gifts to improve the spiritual ability, which God has given them.
2) In the Spirit of power, love and self-control.
St. Paul says, “God has not given us a Spirit of timidity but a Spirit of power, love and self-control,” (2 Tim 1:7). Very often, our young people fear standing up for Jesus and for His Church. They are somewhat weak and timid in nature, when it comes to placing the Word of God in their lives. The Spirit of power and courage are with them, to meet difficulties and dangers in life. The Spirit of love – to love God and His people, and the Spirit of self-control, to avoid temptations and pleasure.
On this Bible Sunday, let’s remember the message of the Holy Father for the young people, inviting them to rekindle faith in their hearts and hope in mission to bring Jesus joyfully to every street and corner of the earth.
(EXTRACT FROM THE KL BIBLICAL COMMISSION MESSAGE ON BIBLE SUNDAY 2018)
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy