The greatest generation
The concept of a “generation gap” was amplified and re-amplified among the generation that began to come of age in the second half of the last century in the United States and other places: generational narcissism and ageism rang loudly throughout the dominant culture.
Later, the younger generation usually recognizes the great worth of the generation that went before it – just in time for the tables to be turned on it as a newer generation starts asserting itself in the world.
There seems to be a generation gap battle cry in the words of Saint Peter in today’s first reading (Acts 2:36-41), as he says, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Saint Peter, of course, is not speaking of the baby boomers or Generation Xers and he is certainly not speaking of what a news reader famously called “The Greatest Generation.”
Nor is Saint Peter speaking only of the elite ones of that time and place who were responsible for our Lord’s crucifixion.
To be sure, the individuals who plotted Christ’s death were indeed corrupt, but the corrupt generation from which we need to be saved is not isolated to a particular point in history.
The root of the word translated here as “generation” is shared by the word generally translated as “to be born”.
It is this word that John uses in the beginning of his Gospel (1:10-13):
He was in the world,
and the world was made through him,
yet the world knew him not.
He came to his own home,
and his own people received him not.
But to all who received him,
who believed in his name,
he gave power to become children of God;
who were born,
not of blood
nor of the will of the flesh
nor of the will of man,
but of God.
This passage illustrates perfectly the truest and most serious “generation gap”.
The greatest generation is of God.
The generations of this world are all in some ways corrupt.
We should not live our lives based on where or how we were physically born.
We should not live our lives based on desires and the will of the flesh.
We should not live our lives based on the will of man: personal preferences, peer pressure, or popular opinion.
By the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – crucified and risen - we should live our lives based on God.
Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.