Citing everything from declining church attendance to a lack of reverence for “the way it’s always been,” the ever-present cliché that people born from 1985 to 1995 are self-centered and don’t seem to care about the world beyond our phone screens has been accepted as Gospel truth.
It’s not that today’s young adults are lazy or not caring; to the contrary, our level of interest in causes and activities far exceeds that of previous generations.
Living in the age of “GoFundMe” fundraising and easy-to-change profile pictures, being temporary activist or part-time supporters of a cause is as easy as a swipe of the finger.
In 2017, it’s easy to be interested in something. Being “interested” in an event or cause seems to be the cool way to go; it shows you care, but you don’t care too much.
In an age when every person’s thoughts, opinions and what they had for lunch becomes public, and eventually scrutinized, showing you’re deeply committed to a cause or a faith is becoming increasingly countercultural.
Wanting to show we’re independent-thinking people, every statement of belief seems to come with a qualifier of non-commitment, a sense of “this is what I think, but I don’t want to offend anyone.”
During Holy Week, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron told the faithful about the need to be “intentional disciples” of Jesus Christ. That there isn’t room for “second-string” Christians.
That sense of being intentional in what we do and how we spend our time causes trepidation for many.
If people see that I’m fully committed to something, or I’m proudly staking my identity to my faith, does that open me up to criticism? Will people look at me differently for bucking the “interested” trend? Will people think I’m somehow surrendering my independence by being a practicing Catholic?
These are all the wrong questions. The real questions today’s young adults — and probably everybody else — needs to ask is: If I’m going to be a Catholic, does it not make sense to be a committed Catholic?
Jesus didn’t want people to go halfway. He didn’t worry if what He was preaching in the synagogue would cause people to get mad at Him or that He might lose followers — indeed many people in the Gospel did walk away from Jesus for saying things people felt went too far or weren’t popular. He did lose a popularity contest with Barabbas, after all.
There are times when being committed to the faith is the countercultural thing to do, especially in a culture that promotes the casual commitment, the casual hook up, the casual interest in 500 different causes that can be easily expressed by changing the filter of a Facebook profile picture.
But our faith can’t be a casual commitment. It can’t be a “maybe” or “I’m interested” subject. It has to be intentional, it has to be authentic. It has to be the part in our lives when we stop our schedule at least once a week and proclaim, “This is important, this is what I believe,” hazarding whatever judgment or ostracizing one might experience because of it.
Jesus wants us to be our authentic selves. He wants us to cut through the nonsense and proclaim we’re the sons and daughters of God.
We as Catholics should never be “halfway” about our faith. We should never be in the “maybe” category. We’re called to be bold disciples, to be intentional about what we do.
Every Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’ level of commitment to us, and there was nothing “maybe” about it.
The least we can do is return the favor.
Dan Meloy is a staff reporter for The Michigan Catholic newspaper.