Peter and John

The Freeman - - OPINION -

I am re­fer­ring to the two apos­tles, St. Peter and St. John. The for­mer was much older than the lat­ter who, tra­di­tion says, was prac­ti­cally a lad only at the time of Christ. They both can rep­re­sent the ten­sion that usu­ally arises be­tween two dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions, a phe­nom­e­non that we con­tinue to ob­serve es­pe­cially nowa­days when the dif­fer­ences be­tween the old and the young are sharper and plen­tier.

In that gospel episode, for ex­am­ple, where Mary Mag­da­lene re­ported to them that the tomb of Christ was found empty, the re­ac­tion of both of them, while the same in sub­stance, was dif­fer­ent in man­ner. (cfr. Jn 20,1-18)

Both im­me­di­ately ran to the tomb, but St. John, be­ing the younger fel­low, ran faster and ar­rived at the tomb ahead of St. Peter. But to the credit of St. John, he stopped at the open­ing of the tomb and waited for St. Peter be­fore both en­tered to in­spect the empty tomb.

This part of the gospel some­how tells us that the young peo­ple can know more things than the older peo­ple, but it is the older peo­ple that know things bet­ter and more deeply than the young ones.

This re­minds me of that part of the song “What a Won­der­ful World,” where it says, “I hear ba­bies cry / I watch them grow / they’ll learn much more / than I’ll ever know.” Said in an­other way, the young ones are like the ice skiers who can cover a long dis­tance on ice, while the old ones are like the divers, who may con­fine them­selves in a small area, but they go deep un­der the wa­ter.

Of course, that’s not a strict de­scrip­tion of how the old and the young be­have. But what is im­por­tant is that like St. John and St. Peter, there must be some way of re­spect­ing each other and in­ter­re­lat­ing with each other de­spite the dif­fer­ences. In fact, the dif­fer­ences, and even the con­flicts, should serve as the trig­ger for such re­spect and in­ter­re­la­tion be­tween the gen­er­a­tions, in­stead of caus­ing divi­sion.

Both the old and the young should be al­lowed to be the way they are, with their dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics and qual­i­ties. The older gen­er­a­tion should re­spect the younger ones as they are, and the same should be true with the younger gen­er­a­tion vis-à-vis, the older gen­er­a­tion.

It also has to be said that it is usu­ally the older gen­er­a­tion that has greater ca­pac­ity to un­der­stand the younger ones, than the other way around. That’s sim­ply be­cause the older peo­ple have more ex­pe­ri­ence, have more ex­po­sure to life’s drama than the younger ones who may pos­sess more knowl­edge and skills, es­pe­cially in the tech­ni­cal side of life. Again this is a gen­eral state­ment that can ad­mit a lot of ex­cep­tions.

But the dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions should try to learn from each other, mu­tu­ally giv­ing their dis­tinc­tive con­tri­bu­tion to each other. The older gen­er­a­tion should share their ex­pe­ri­ence with the younger ones, while the younger ones should also share the new, in­no­va­tive things to which they are more ex­posed.

While each gen­er­a­tion should main­tain their dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics and iden­tity, without feel­ing su­pe­rior or in­fe­rior to the oth­ers, it should avoid keep­ing to it­self. It should rather learn to reach out also to the oth­ers. Oth­er­wise, we would be cre­at­ing tribes that would frag­ment so­ci­ety in gen­eral and un­der­mine the unity and har­mony proper to all of us.

With the fast pace of de­vel­op­ment nowa­days, it is im­per­a­tive that all of us in the dif­fer­ent stages, sta­tuses, and gen­er­a­tions in life, learn how to in­ter­act with each other, so that we can really achieve the authen­tic progress that is meant for us.

This will re­quire up­dat­ing and lev­el­ing up our so­cial skills that in the end de­pends on our vi­tal re­la­tion­ship with God, whose in­ter-trini­tar­ian life is the orig­i­nal and ul­ti­mate model of our in­ter­gen­er­a­tional in­ter­ac­tions, or of how we as Peter and John ought to be­have to­ward each other.

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