Reflections on the Scriptures for Youth Ministers

1st Sunday/Zaccheus Sunday

1 Tim 4:9-15 -- St Timothy was a young man when the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to him. Timothy had been given great responsibility for a person his age and St Paul has high expectations for him. Today we ten to isolate youth from these kinds of responsibilities and expectations, thinking that they 'aren't ready' for them, St Paul reminds St Timothy to be an example to everyone in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.

  • What kind of example do we expect our young people to make?
  • What kind of example do we give them to follow?
  • How can we encourage do we give them to follow?
  • How can we encourage young people to take their faith seriously?
  • In what ways do we encourage young people to take active responsibilities within the life of the parish?

Luke 19:1-10 -- Zaccheus had a lot going against him. As the chief tax collector and a rich man he was rejected and hated for co-operating and working for the Romans who treated Jewish people as inferiors. As a short, it was difficult for him to see something that others could see easily. Despite these 'handicaps,' he refused to let anything stop him from pursuing his spiritual desire to get to know Jesus. His reaction and response to meeting Jesus made him resourceful in spite of his handicaps, zealous in his spiritual hunger, and eager to radically repent and make amends for things he had done. Often young people have many things going against them in their spiritual lives: they live in a society that degrades religious and even moral beliefs; they often don't have family structures that reinforce the need for genuine spiritual growth, and they may or may not belong to a community that gives them positive examples of Christian life.

  • What are other spiritual 'handicaps' that teens and young adults face today?
  • What do we think you people would say Jesus would want them to change about their lives?
  • In what ways do we encourage them to surrender to or overcome their spiritual handicaps?

2nd Sunday/Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

2 Tim 3:10-15 -- St Paul wrote this letter as he was waiting to be martyred. In it he gives Timothy what he feels to be the most important advice he can give to a man who he things of as a son. He tells Timothy to remember and stay true to what he was taught. Paul also prepares him for the difficulties that he will face, and reminds him how from the time he was very young, he was taught from the scriptures about the Christ and salvation.

  • Are we honest with youth and young adults about the realities of Christian life; about the persecutions they will face as they try to love a life in Christ?
  • What tools can we give youth and young adults to help them face this persecution?
  • What perceptions do we give young people about the holy scriptures? Are they essential and instructive for salvation, or irrelevant to 'real' life.
  • In what ways do we help young people become well-informed about the scriptures?

Luke 18:10-14 -- In the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, Jesus warns us about doing all the right things for the wrong reasons. This includes everything from how we live our daily lives to things we do as part of our parish communities. The publican was justified not because of what he did or did not do, but because he acknowledged that he needed God in his life.

  • How do we present the teachings of the Church to young people; as rules designed to prevent people from enjoying life, or as life-saving and life-giving guidelines?
  • Do we give young people the idea that the Christian life is about following rules on about getting to know the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
  • In what ways do we portray God's forgiveness to youth and young adults?

3rd Sunday/Sunday of the Prodigal Son:

1 Cor 6:12-20 -- In the epistle St Paul reminds us about who we are as human beings: how we, as Christians, are to behave in front of people who are not Christians; and how our actions affect us and those around us. These view differ radically from other philosophies which deny that our actions have real consequences and that we have a genuine connection and responsibility to others.

  • What do our youth think about who the are, what their bodies are, the meaning of their life, and what they should do with it? What does society tell them? How does the Church correct or reinforce these understandings?
  • How would youth we know react to the phrase 'You are not your own. You were bought at a price'?
  • What kind of approach can we use to instill within young people the Christian understanding of the human body, mind, and spirit?

Luke 15:11-32 -- The parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the most familiar stories in all literature and art. It has inspired numerous novels, short stories, poems, paintings, and even songs. It tells the reader about the universal experience of pride, rejection, greed, repentance, and reconciliation. It even outlines the steps involved in turning our lives around. In spite of this, youth and young adults often get the impression of God as a vengeful god who needs to punish those who offend Him. Young people need to know the real consequences of turning from God and the steps that it takes to return to Him.

  • According to the parable, why does the prodigal decide to return to his father?
  • What opportunities doe we give young people to discuss the real effects of their bad choices?
  • In what ways do we portray God's forgiveness to youth and young adults?

4th Sunday/Sunday of the Last Judgment

1 Cor 8:8-9:2 -- Though fasting is an essential part of Christian life practiced by the Church from the earliest times, St Paul writes that 'if food is a cause of my brother's falling I will never eat meat, lest I cause by brother to fall.' Often fasting is presented as a harsh rule or as something that can be discarded at whim. In the Christian life, fasting is seen as essential to a true knowledge and experience of God, but becomes secondary when it might impair someone else's relationship with Him.

  • What impression does our community give young people about fasting?
  • How can we better express to young people the connection of fasting to our relationship with God and others?
  • How would our youth and young adults respond to the phrase 'I am not my brothers' keeper'? What do we do to support or not support that attitude?

Matt 25:31-36 -- Jesus clearly tells us here how our lives will be judged. If we do the things in the parable out of love, then we will be saved; if we do not, we will damn ourselves. He calls us to love others as He loves us, without expecting anything in return. The people described in the parable are those who are not in a position to 'give back' anything for what we do for them, just like we can't give back anything for what God has done for us. Youth and young adults need to be challenged to love people even if they can't get anything back in return. They also need to know that this not because we wants to be 'nice' but because God made us that way.

  • How do youth think about the concept of answering to God? Of disappointing God?
  • How much does your community exemplify the kind of love in action represented in the parable?
  • How do we challenge young people to engage in this kind of love?

Taken from the OCA Resource Handbook for Lay Ministries