We have all heard the Scriptures tell us, “Faith without works is dead,” but have we considered that faith without work is not much better? Consider two readings, one from the Old Testament and one from the Gospel.
In the first reading, manna is provided by God from heaven for the Israelites to eat. If you read further though, it becomes clear that loaves of bread did not fall. The manna was similar to flakes that had to be collected, ground to flour, and made into cakes.
In the Gospel reading, Christ tells his disciples that He will pay the temple tax. He then instructs His followers to go and fish, and check the mouth of the first fish they catch. In the fish’s mouth, they will find a coin worth twice the tax.
Why is there work involved in both these events? I believe it is because we have a vested interested in something we work at. When a child helps to plan their room and the organization of their toys they seem to work (a little) harder at keeping it clean. When we put energy into a project we protect the fruits of that project for longer.
When working with youth, we can encourage them to participate more in matters of faith. I often hear adults complain that they, “Don’t get anything out of the Mass.” By learning the Mass, becoming a lector, or Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist they will, “get more out of it.” A youth who sings in the choir or altar serves will also have a greater attachment to the Mass, teachings and Traditions of the church.
I have witnessed the change in my own teens when they have helped out a women’s shelter, gone to a youth conference or helped build houses at work camp.
Faith requires a leap from the head to the heart. Action can be the catalyst to help bring that change about. We expect to work hard at all other areas of our life. Perhaps we go to college or an apprentice program to accomplish our career goals or work hard at creating a piece of art we are proud of. In these things we see the link between work and understanding. We can help our youth understand that there is a link between work and faith as well. God bless.