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We can learn a lot from teens!

Just a few weeks ago we heard the Gospel parable that has been named by some as the parable of the foolish rich man. In that parable in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells the story of a man who is apparently so successful that he no longer has enough space for all his stuff. The man’s solution is to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones that will safely hold all his possessions. Satisfied by his material success, the man thinks that he should “eat, drink and be merry,” since, from his perspective, he has nothing to worry about. Little does he know that God will, that very night, demand his life, calling him a fool for placing too much trust in material goods and not storing up enough treasure in heaven. This is certainly a tough parable for us to hear in our own time and place.

In this month’s issue of FAITH, we feature a variety of teens from around our diocese whose lives and dedication to service provide a powerful and helpful corrective to the attitudes that we adults can sometimes display that too often mimic those of the foolish rich man in Jesus’ parable. These young women and men have found some pretty amazing ways to blend together a desire to be of service with a desire to continue to grow and stretch their faith. They have also grown in their understanding of many of the challenges that face people every day in the quest for food, shelter, safety and dignified work to support themselves and their families. These young people have been changed by those encounters. We, as readers, have the opportunity to be touched and transformed by their stories.

In Jesus’ time, what made his parable so shocking was the rich man’s attitude that he could be greedy, hoarding all his material blessings. As a successful and blessed individual in his own time, the people of his village or town would have rightly expected the man to share some of his material blessings with them. In fact, it was an expectation that the rich man would be especially sensitive to the needs of the folks on the margins—the poor, widows and orphans.

The teens whom you will meet on the pages ahead don’t draw big salaries, most likely don’t have big 401k’s, and are very unlike the foolish rich man. They know they have gifts. Their gifts are not material ones; instead, they have the gifts of loving hearts, lots of energy, nearly boundless altruism, and a deep desire to love God more and more each day. They remind us that we adults have unique gifts too, and that we can put them to good use. These young people show us that perhaps we should not be worried about building bigger barns. Instead, we can cooperate with God’s grace, and allow God to build in us bigger, more loving hearts.

And so our journey in FAITH continues.