Gods Loves the Young.
Don Bosco refers to Matthew 18:5-6 to argue that God has a particular love for young people, because “he considers all favours done to [them] as done to him… [and] threatens terribly those who give [them] scandal.” He suggests that this is because the young “are natural, humble, and innocent; in a word, because [they] have not yet fallen a victim to the snares of the devil.” It is based upon an appreciation of this particular love that young people should find motivation for “the sincere resolution to act in response to [God’s] love by doing whatever pleases him, and by avoiding whatever might offend him.”
The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church would suggest that, if God has a particular love for anyone, it is for the Church, Jesus’ bride, for whom he “delivered himself up… and whom, finally, He filled with heavenly gifts for all eternity, in order that we may know the love of God and of Christ for us.” Within the Church, we would not so speak of much preference among members based on age or personal attributes, as degrees of incorporation through “profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion,” which are “attributed not to [one’s] own merits but to the special grace of Christ;” it is the response to this grace which must motivate their response, and upon which their salvation hangs. John Bosco warns that if people “begin badly in [their] youth, [they] will surely continue so until death, and inevitably secure hell for [themselves];” the Church after Vatican II certainly recognised the urgent need for early catechesis amidst the contemporary world’s increasing youth population, and like Bosco, insists on the “prime importance” of children being exposed to the love of God (ideally by their parents) from infancy, and of being initiated “organically into the life of the Church” by early childhood.
The main theological point we can draw from these two perspectives is that our love for God must, first and foremost, be a response to the grace of Christ, which is the knowledge of God’s love for us, before it is a fulfilment of obligations or a display of self-sacrifice. It is precisely because the young, in their innocence, lack the full appreciation of moral obligation and of self-sacrifice that their love for God is primarily able to be a response to God’s love for them; in other words, it is not because people are young that God loves them exceedingly, rather, it is by embracing the innocence of youth that people are exceedingly capable of being loved by God.