Monday, February 28, 2011

Confirmation I and II: February 27, 2011: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Read the Gospel: Mt 6:24-34

Journal: How did you live out last week’s Gospel message? What was tough? What was rewarding?

Dishonesty. It plagues our high schools. Many students will do anything to get ahead. Some teachers go crazy trying to develop ways to stop cheating. Others are heartbroken when students they respect justify academic dishonesty.
And Jesus said, “Seek first…the highest grade, the best college…” Uh, not exactly. I attended a Catholic high school. While in college, I helped out at Catholic high schools. I worry about the pressure students feel to be number one.
Here is the message many students pick up: “I have to get the highest grades and be in the most activities—otherwise, I won’t get into the best college. If I don’t get into the best college, I will be a failure.” Too often, even well-meaning parents and guidance counselors feed that message.
That message can devastate young people. It leads some to justify dishonesty. It leads others to use alcohol and other drugs. It leads others to experience depression and despair.
If you’ve heard that message, let me offer a different one—one from the God who will always be with you. “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will follow.” Here’s how you do that. Develop your character. Honesty, compassion, and generosity will make your life more meaningful than the highest grades, longest resume, or best college. Develop your prayer life. Using daily prayer and attending weekly Mass will remind you that God’s love and protection don’t depend on personal success.. Build time into your schedule for service. That reminds you that you don’t need a high ACT or SAT score to make a difference in the world and feel good about yourself.
Sure, work hard in school. Develop your brain and body through activities. But remember, almost any school can prepare you well for a career if you work hard. Also remember, our world needs more people with Christian character, not more millionaires.

Journal: How is the pressure to succeed leading some teenagers—or even you—to sacrifice character? How might you change the situation? What can you do? Be specific.

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