How do we respond to our children when they look at the world we are handing them and ask “If there is a God, why does he allow all this bad to happen?” It is embarrassing to admit the amount of times I have failed to answer this question adequately. Unfortunately I am not alone. The fact is most of us have a hard time answering that question. I have come to believe that the exodus from the American Church is due, in large part, to our collective failure as a church to effectively answer the question above. A Pew Survey from 2014 showed that over a third of all millennials now identify as “unaffiliated” while only 16 percent identify as Catholic. We have to do better!
It is not long after a teenager, in a very serious way, asks the question “why are bad things allowed to happen” that they either are diving feet first into the Faith or they are saying “I don’t believe in God”. At the moment that they insist on an “real” answer, the relevance of the Church is made clear to them or it is made clear that the Church has no relevance. In last weeks readings, Habakkuk like so many of our young people wrestled with God over questions of oppression and justice. Habakkuk heard God’s reply and our youth need to hear God’s reply too. Habakkuk uses an imagery of wicked people gathering the righteous into fishing nets and hauling them away to be consumed and objectified. In the Gospels we find Jesus using Habakkuk’s imagery to answer Habakkuk’s concerns.
Jesus calls us to be fishers of people! We must weave our own nets, and gather our own people to respond to our mission. So when our children ask “why does God allow injustice?” Our answer should be “God does not allow it; that is why God created you! This is your purpose, to put an end to injustice!”
Our children were baptized to be Priest, Prophets, Kings, and yes fishers of people. Expecting anything less from them is insulting and will surely send them to find their baptized call outside of the Church.