If there’s one thing Jesus and Satan had in common, it was their low estimation of Millennials. That was Jesus’ generation (Millennials of the FIRST Millennium), and repeatedly throughout the gospels Jesus is quoted saying some pretty harsh things about his generation. For example:
Matthew 16:4: “‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.’ And He left them and went away.”
Luke 9:41: “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you?”
Acts 2:40: “And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’”
Millennials of Jesus’ age have a lot in common with Millennials of ours. Both exhibit a sense of entitlement and narcissism. They also don’t like rules—at least not the ones that the boss gives them. As a result, they often have to be saved from themselves. Today’s Millennials have “helicopter parents” to save them from tough situations—some even accompanying their kids to job interviews. Jesus’ Millennials had…HIM.
In this Sunday’s gospel reading (mt 16:21-27), Jesus is confronted by the ultimate Millennial: Peter. After Jesus tells his disciples his mission—to go to Jerusalem, suffer greatly at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes, then be killed and on the third day be raised, Peter argued:
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
Jesus answers: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Jesus calls him Satan because he received the same treatment from Satan when he was in the desert for 40 days. The devil figured this Millennial could be tempted to call upon angels to make life a bit easier for himself. He also figured this Millennial would bow down before him for the assurance that great power would be his as a result. This Millennial surprised him.
Even Paul exhorts the Millennials among the Romans in our second reading (rom 12:1-2) not to succumb to their weaknesses:
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age.”
In our first reading (jer 20:7-9), the prophet Jeremiah does his best imitation of a Millennial by complaining to God:
“You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.”
But Jeremiah, as Jesus’ disciples do, overcomes his human frailties and becomes a loyal member of God’s workforce. That can happen with today’s generation of Millennials too. All they need is the right motivation. Christ’s death and resurrection did it for the first Millennials and for every generation thereafter. None of those generations was perfect, but they were all saved by God’s grace—a gift to which none of us is entitled.
Confession: This blog was inspired by a YouTube video link I received at work this week; I couldn’t help thinking of it when looking at this Sunday’s readings. I’m doing something very Millennial by sharing this link with you. Enjoy:
That first reading is a challenge to me… Who duped whom? … Do we see an immature understanding here of the gift of free will, where we are made in the Image & Likeness, with freedom to be “duped” by our own power to sin?… Are we duped or just stumbling along in our choices that need to continually get better and better over time? .. Are we angry that God gave us free will?