What was it like when you first believed that Jesus has power over death? When you had that conversion that led to your personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
For me, it was (literally and figuratively) a springtime. A new part of my life had opened up. I was a disciple of Jesus. I was bursting with a new joy and a new assurance of eternal hope. My enthusiasm was youthful–completely untouched by the inevitable challenges of Christian living and experiences of living in a fallen world that more mature disciples of Jesus Christ grapple with.
This week’s Sunday collect prayer [collect=the prayer after the Gloria and before the first reading] encourages us to maintain a youthful spirit as disciples. Now youth is different than immaturity. We’re to pursue more mature discipleship at all times–growing in wisdom and friendship with God by yielding to the Holy Spirit more and more in our lives. The youthfulness we’re called to is about vigor, having a fresh and lively commitment to the Gospel, rather than one that’s gone stale, lukewarm, or complacent. Easter is the season for renewing our youth as disciples, invigorating our Gospel witness.
How do we stay youthful? Some insights from yesterday’s collect prayer:
1. Realize the what God has already done for you.
The collect prayer describes us as “rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption.” To be adopted by God is no small thing! It means that you’ve been, “snatched away from sin and led into the mystery of God’s love” and called to enter into a personal relationship with God in Christ” (Second Vatican Council, Ad Gentes §13). If your friendship with God has grown tired or emotionless, get back to this basic truth first.
2. Add confidence to your hope.
We throw the word “hope” around a lot. Sometimes, in our day-to-day conversations a “hope” is just a slim chance, a long shot. But Christian hope isn’t like this. In this week’s collect prayer we asked that “we may look forward in confident hope to the rejoicing on the day of resurrection.” Confident hope. Pope Francis explained that the essential knowledge of a preacher is that he “be certain that God loves him, that Jesus Christ has saved him and that his love always has the last word” (Evangelii Gaudium, §151). And this applies to all of us! We don’t have to invent doubt out of a misguided humility–our hope in our own resurrection is to be confident, and confidence leads to vigor.
3. When in doubt, ask God for joy.
In the collect, we prayed that God would let us “exult for ever.” This means rejoicing, exalting in good times and in bad because the ultimate victory has been won in Jesus Christ and we have been adopted by God in Jesus Christ. If you’re lacking a youthful, exuberant joy, ask God for joy. Ask God to allow you and all of his adopted children to “exult for ever.”
So far this Easter season we’ve heard stories of the youthful spirits of Mary Magdalene, the “other Mary,” Cleopas and the other disciple, Thomas, Simon Peter, and others as they came to believe that Jesus defeated death.
How does your youthfulness compare? No matter how long you’ve been a disciple, take time this Easter season to renew and refresh your youthful spirit!
This post originally appeared at NewEvangelizers.com.