Rebel with a cause

By  Camilo Guzman, Youth Speak News
  • September 28, 2012

Blessed Pope John Paul II said that youth “must not miss out on the great opportunity to live the Gospel radically.” But why would the head of the Church call youth to live in a way that is radical? 

Often in modern society, I believe there is a tendency to domesticate God. In other words, we tend to adapt God to fit our own needs and desires. We can also adapt Christ to the point that we believe He approves or permits negative actions and lifestyles. I have often met people who believed firmly that it was perfectly fine to lie or cheat if they are just white lies. Sometimes, I find it comforting to be on the receiving end of a white lie. But these actions conform to society, which marks the turning point away from God. In a society where God has no place, we, by adapting to it, leave no place for God.

As a young person, it is difficult to fight against an entire society. But Christ was called a rebel in His day and He calls us to be the same. He spoke against the evils of His time and protested against any authority that contradicted the law of God and oppressed the freedom of the children of God. He didn’t shave His head or start a secret society. But He was a radical with a capital R.

I felt confused when I heard my parish priest speaking about Christ in this way. I always thought about Jesus as being meek and gentle and never pictured Him as radical. Had I not understood the message of Christ? My then-spiritual director led me to a Gospel passage: “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning” (Luke 12:49). Wow, I thought, is this the same Christ that instructs us to turn the other cheek? As I read the Gospel of Matthew, I continued to be in awe: “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the Earth. I came not to bring peace, but a sword” (Mt 10:34).

I began to study the Gospel and my parish priest directed me to the lives of the saints, on which I found, surprisingly, well-made full-length movies, which aside from their personal text were perhaps some of the greatest resources to see and experience this double message of Christ: to be meek and a warrior at the same time; to be obedient and humble, yet a radical and a rebel.

As the the messiah and the son of God,  anyone who follows Christ belongs to His kingdom and must be ready to defend it and live His message.

A holy priest who had the privilege to celebrate Mass with Pope John Paul II once told me that giving ourselves entirely to Christ meant denying the world entirely, for the enemy of our faith is the king of the world, and with our valour and youth we can rebel against the evil of this world and fight with the weapons that Christ fought with — His love, sacrifice, prayer and example of life. So our war must not be through violence or hatred, for that would be conforming ourselves yet again to the world. Rather, through those things which the world mocks — peace, meekness, love and truth — we will succeed. This is why youth are called to live the Gospel radically and this is why Christ says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

(Guzman, 20, is a third order member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word.)

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