St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Our Children and the Church -Homily July 12, 2015


Dear Friends, Many people tell me how much they would like their children to be in Church. They invite them always, or they have invited them sometimes, but without success. Because we understand how important the Church is, we worry about them, even if we do not judge them. Sometimes people feel guilty about their children; sometimes they give up; sometimes they keep trying but without hope of success and even question their own faith as something old fashioned.


Todays Gospel may help us to reflect about these issues. Jesus is not wanted in his hometown. There are reasons for that: people cannot believe that Jesus is a messenger from God because they know him. We know you, we have seen you growing, are you now coming to tell us what to do? When someone tells us something that we do not want to hear, it is very human to try to find an excuse for doing what we want. In this case, for these people, Jesus cannot be God because he is too human. In our case, it is sometimes our own past mistakes, or other reasons. Our children know our past mistakes, maybe our past lack of faith or practice, and they could say to us: You did this and that, and now you come to tell me what to do? Jesus himself said: A prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown.


1. But this is not a reason for him not to preach to them. Their lack of acceptance did not prevent him from being merciful to them. He bore with rejection, in order to show them how merciful God is. He could not help curing some sick people. In that way, nobody would say that out of anger he closed the door of his mercy. He teaches us in this way that even when we do not expect much success; we have to talk, because in that way we show to the other person that we are still waiting for them, that we care for them.


2. Let me point to another thing that we can learn from this Gospel. Jesus had already given a great example to the people of Nazareth. They all remembered him as the carpenter. Nobody remembers anything evil about him. They all probably loved him: they had enjoyed his company during his youthful years, his conscientious work, his beautiful pieces of furniture, his honesty, his kindness. But now, because he is coming as a messenger of God, as someone from whom they need to receive something they despise him.


This is for those who feel guilty about their children not coming to Church, or because they do not do this or that: Did I do something wrong? Jesus could not give a better example, and still he was rejected by his own kin. But, we have to pay attention to this, his love was greater than their rejection. He kept giving the good example of the one who speaks with courage, despite the possibility of being rejected. They would never forget that. That is why I think many people come back to Church: they remember how important it was for their parents or grandparents to come to Church.


3. Sometimes our children do not understand the importance of religion and the Church because they have been poorly informed about it. Sometimes the mass media provoke scandals with either true information in the wrong way, for the sake of scandal, or just false information.[1] We need to heal the wounds of scandals. I was very pleased to read Laszlos insert in the bulletin on Fathers Day weekend, The Gift of a Parent. The idea was to pass on our faith to our children, discovering for them the beauty and the importance of true religion, and explaining them the mystery of evil in the Church. We are all sinners on the way to forgiveness. If the Church were a community of perfect people, it would be either empty, or full of foolish people who think that they are perfect.


4. The last thing I want to say is for those who think that their efforts are useless, that our children will not come back despite our efforts. Please think about this: when you love a friend, you love also his family and friends, and you respect and care for whatever is his or hers. God loves you, because you try to keep his commandments and you even try to bring other people to God. If God loves you and wants to take you to heaven, will he not love those you love? If he is your friend, will he not take care of your family also? If as a good father or a good mother you love your children, how much more our Father in Heaven will love them and take care of them. Keep praying and keep inviting them.


One of the most astonishing miracles of Jesus in the Gospel was the resurrection of a young man who was being carried to the cemetery (Luke 7:11ff). Jesus did it because he could not stand the tears of the mother. And behind the great St. Augustine, as you may know, there are many years of prayers and tears of another mother, St. Monica, who begged God for her son Augustine until his baptism, when he was 37. St. Ambrose, the famous Bishop of Milan, had said to her: Woman, the child of so many tears shall never perish.


Let us pray for our children, especially for those who struggle with their faith. Have we ourselves been the cause? Even in that case, this is not a reason for doing nothing: there is also forgiveness for us! We all have a job to do: let us pray for them, let us speak to them and keep trying. Let us work with the secret joy that in the end the victory is ours: God loves them more than we do. May our Blessed Mother intercede for her children. -Fr. Andrew









[1] And may God bless all the good reporters who, in saying the truth, share also the good things that happen in the Catholic Church. I am talking about other people here.