Retrospective look, challenges for the future: accompaniment (2/11)
I would like to start with a question: To whom or to what things do we grant authority in our life? And of course, I am aware that just by mentioning the word "authority" I will lose the interest of 80% of those who started to read this reflection. Whether we are aware of it or not, everyone has a certain influence in our lives, be it for good or bad. As retrograde as it may seem to speak of authority now days, we cannot ignore that we all consent to something or someone to the point of affecting our life.
Do you know where the word "authority" comes from? The Conclusive Document of the synod on young people dedicated some lines explaining this in paragraph 71 saying: "In its etymological meaning, "auctoritas" indicates the ability to grow; it does not express the idea of a directive power, but of a real generative force. When Jesus met young people, no matter in what condition they found themselves in, even if they were dead, he told them one way or another: Get up! Grow up! And his word fulfilled what he said (see Mk 5,41; Lk 7,14). "
To achieve a true path to maturity, young people need authorized adults. Our youth are asked to consider their cunning and intelligence, their sensitivity and their fine intuition, to recognize the people, situations, initiatives or proposals that help them grow. We need people who are willing to exercise their authority this way: That their main desire be the growth of young people, without practicing any possessiveness, manipulation nor self-referential seduction.
I am aware that when talking about accompaniment, many important nuances must be considered are considered involved and that, moreover, they are all really important in order to help the young people to grow fully. But for now let us go back to the question we started with: To whom or to what do I give authority to in my life? Of course we must all offer authority to our parents, teachers, friends, the way a group manages itself, even an author whose work I admire, etc.
However, the question is much more direct: You, young man, do you have a person that you feel truly accompanies you, who knows your history, your successes and achievements, your fears and self-deceptions? Well, you should know that there are several people out there, in your environment, to which you can consider a trusting authority in your life. Your task is to cautiously identify that person whom you can trust and seem to be of encouragement in your growing process. Someone who can remind you that you can give more of yourself and continue looking for answers. You will never regret to find a companion you can count on to share your life discoveries.
There is a film that I consider summarizes what the synod on Youth, faith and vocational discernment wants youth to discover concerning accompaniment. The 80´s blockbuster movie is “Karate Kid”.
A teenager without a father faces his decisive moment in his life. Daniel Sam (Ralph Macchio), arrives to Los Angeles from the east coast, and faces the difficult task of making new friends. However, he becomes the bullying target of the Cobras, a threatening gang of karate students, especially when he starts becoming close to Ali (Elisabeth Shue), the Cobras´ leader ex-girlfriend. Eager to defend himself and impress the Ali, he begs his concierge Miyagi (Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita), a martial arts master, to teach him karate.
Mr. Miyagi starts teaching Daniel that karate requires self-control, of both mind and body. Fighting will always be the last recourse when confronting a problem. Under Miyagi's guidance, Daniel develops not only physical abilities, but also faith and self-confidence. In spite of having very little to his favor, he wishes to compete in a martial arts tournament. Little by little, while Daniel trains, he starts confronting his deepest fears, and ends up strong enough for the tournament and for the battles of his life.
This synod on young people did great in focusing on the need of the accompaniment for youth, and the characteristics to be a good companion. But what was even greater, was the presentation of Christ as the best companion anyone can have as we do our worldly journey as a Church, with special attention to the youth of this twenty-first century.
And how is it done? Going back to Christ, because his style never goes out of style: "Jesus himself came and walked with them" (Lk 24, 15). The Church must recognize the realities young people are living, recognizing their strengths and challenges. Today, Jesus, the risen Christ, wants to be with the youth, the way He knows is best. Be and walk with the youth no matter what they are going through or in what conditions they are in. Yesterday, today and always, Jesus, through his Church, walks, listens, shares and fills the hearts of young people with enthusiasm as it shares the journey with them.