Published on the Diocese of Stockton website
Given by the Most Reverend Stephen E. Blaire at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton.
The Word that God spoke to Jeremiah, the prophet, God speaks to each of you gathered here this weekend for the Youth 2000 retreat. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Just think, you were in the mind of God from all eternity. There never was a moment when God was not thinking about you. Imagine God speaking these words to you: “I know each of you better than you know yourselves. I know everything about you, the way you feel, what you do, all your thoughts, and I love you because I made you. Do not ever forget that I created you. You are made in my image and likeness. Do not ever forget your worth as a human person. Never do anything that degrades your humanity, that makes you less than the beautiful person you are. “
Everyone is born for a purpose in this world. If you always seek to do the will of God which you find in the teachings of Jesus, you will find out what your life is all about . Again imagine God saying to you: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you to be who you are, living at this very moment in history. “ God chose you to be alive at this exact moment. At this very moment in your life, Jesus is here with you and says to you: “Be courageous, I am with you, do not be afraid.” (Mk.6:50)
God also said to Jeremiah and says to you: “Before you were born, I dedicated you.” I hope that you will always understand by these words that you are dedicated to live for God. Whatever you do, whatever fun you have, whatever work you do, whatever friendships you develop, whatever sports you play, whatever food you enjoy, wherever you go, do everything for God. Before you were born you were dedicated to God.
David is a young man, second year in college, and is studying to be a pharmacist. One day he found a large swelling his leg. It was cancer and his leg had to be amputated. He now wears a prosthesis which he is not ashamed to show because he likes to wear shorts. He constantly learns the latest techniques of walking and has not let the cancer be a setback to his dreams. I was so impressed when I saw him visit children’s hospital and talk to some very sick kids, make them laugh and let them play with his artificial leg. What a great way to live one’s dedication to God as a Christian.
One of the hardest things about hearing these words of God is that in following them you may not always be popular. That’s what happened to Jesus. At first the people spoke highly of him. They liked his gracious words. This is still true today. People like the nice words of Jesus which make you feel good. But when Jesus began to speak some hard words they turned against him and tried to throw him down a hill. It may be hard at times to keep up your friendship with Jesus. If you pray everyday, go to Mass regularly, get involved in your parish, join the youth or young adult group, it will help you to stay close to Jesus. But even if you should forget, know that Jesus your friend always wants to forgive you. He always waits for you to come home.
When God called Jeremiah, he told God: “I am too young.” God said to him: “Do not say ‘I am too young.’” God loves young people. God calls young people. You have been chosen to be a friend of Jesus. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you….before you were born, I dedicated you.