By Adam Burns
WHEN I was discerning becoming a priest, many people pointed out to me how young I was.
It was often a surprise to many people to see a 19 or 20-year-old training to be a priest.
The running joke at the seminary was that some of the other students were old enough to be my father.
Our society is so hung up on age.
We define ourselves by our generation.
As a Gen Y I’m supposedly non-committal, apathetic and inclined only towards that which will fulfil myself.
According to the latest research I’m likely to work four jobs before I’m 30. I’m already up to job number three and the job I have in my forties doesn’t even exist yet.
As a young person it is so easy to become disillusioned when that’s the box society puts us in.
We live in a rapidly expanding world and it’s easy to sigh, shrug shoulders and say, “what can I do, I’m only young?!”
The “too young” excuse is a cop out.
At the age of 18 Aretha Franklin began singing professionally, Edgar Allan Poe published his first book of poetry, Billy the Kid was charged with 12 murders and Samantha Larson became the youngest person to climb the highest mountain on each continent.
Ignoring Billy’s 12 murder charges, those are all inspiring achievements.
Being the change you want to see in the world is a cliché we throw around often: how do we affect change when as young people we often don’t have the money, power or influence to do that?
The reality is that no other generation has had the technology or the knowledge of how to use that technology to affect change on the world like this generation.
Social media is now often used as the platform to launch campaigns or to raise awareness.
Being young isn’t meant to be an obstacle, it’s meant to be a challenge:
“Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
Youth isn’t a disease; it’s a very real time in our lives, a time full of zeal, idealism and unravelling of potential.
Young people have a very real and very necessary vocation in our Church: to share God’s love in a way that only they can.
St John Paul II alluded to this in his closing homily at World Youth Day 2002:
“The world you are inheriting is a world which desperately needs a new sense of brotherhood and human solidarity. It is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God’s love.”
The calling is there, the challenge for all of us (not just young people) is to seek that calling every day, in whichever circumstances we find ourselves in. We’re reminded of the story of the Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-31): will we turn away downhearted, or will we accept the challenge to live full lives?
Adam Burns is a vocations officer for the Vocation Brisbane team.
Seeking your call? Contact Vocation Brisbane for more information or discernment opportunities by phone on 1300 133 5441 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.