BSM Blog: A Season of Reflection
Recently, I read a piece by Donelle Poling, Associate Director of Youth in Theology and Ministry from the University of St. John’s, as she wrote about engaging kids in faith. She recalls the parable of Jesus and the wineskins:
When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees why his disciples weren’t following the law by fasting he replied, “no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” Matthew 9:14-17
Poling writes that “Jesus’ point was this: the old paradigm from which they interpreted the law was shifting. Jesus was bringing a new way of being and a new way of doing things. Jesus’ way and message is still the new wine. How the current generation practices their faith is the new wineskins.”
Benilde-St.Margaret’s Junior High is approaching the question of engagement in faith and theology in a similar way. No longer are students sitting down to memorize the Baltimore Catechism and expected to suddenly become a “better” Catholic or more faithful to God. Rather, students are seeking to be engaged in their faith and the parables of Jesus in a new and innovative way. For too long, schools and catechetical programs have used “old wineskins” in hopes that students will be sustained in learning out of obligation to traditions of the Church. On the contrary, this generation of students is more connected -- socially, globally, and technologically -- than any other group of people in history. As a result, we must change the way that faith is presented to them.
The first Sunday of Advent is upon us and we are called into a time of reflection and waiting in joyful hope of the coming of Jesus. This season, I encourage you to talk with your student(s) about ways in which he/she encounters God in life. At this age of development, God is often found in every place but a church. Maybe your student feels God in nature when spending time hiking or looking at the sunset or breathing in deep, cold winter air on a starry night; or, maybe your student encounters God’s presence after a particularly grueling basketball game or hockey tournament. Especially for kids, God is felt first. We feel God’s presence before we understand the complexity of our faith and spirituality. Finding God in daily life is equivalent to this generation's new wineskins. This advent, I will continue to pray for the cultivation of new wineskins in the lives of our students and families; and, for the recognition of God in our lives.