St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Parents: Chosen to Give Life and Eternal Life -Homily January 2, 2016

Parents: Chosen to Give Life and Eternal Life                              -Homily January 2, 2016

 

The Family of Nazareth is the model of our Christian families. I wanted to share this opportunity to reflect on the role of parents in the education of children. It may help us both to see how important this role is, and how to fulfill it. I will use two texts for that. The first is from the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy from the II Vatican Council.

 

1. “To accomplish so great a work [the work of salvation], Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross", but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes, it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work, wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father.”

 

God could have saved men by himself, each individually, but he did not want to do so. He wanted to associate his Church with himself, as a bride, so that in the same way that life comes to the world by the union of man and woman, eternal life and salvation may also come to the world through the union of God with human beings. God wants to save the world through us, and not without us.

 

2. The same concept we see in a homily of Blessed Isaac of Stella. He is speaking about the power of the Church to do things that only God can do, particularly the forgiveness of sins. But what he says could be extended to other things: “When the Almighty, the Most High, wedded a bride who was weak and of low estate [our human nature], he made that maid-servant a queen. He took her from her place behind him, at his feet, and enthroned her at his side.” This is an important point: the reason God wants to save others through us, is to make us as equal to Him as it is possible. He loves men and women so much that He wants to share with them not only salvation, but also His own divine power to save.

 

Blessed Isaac continues: “And as all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son because by nature they are one, so also the bridegroom [Jesus] gave all he had to the bride [the Church] and he shared in all that was hers. […] He destroyed what was diabolical [sin], took to himself what was human, and conferred on her what was divine. […] The Church is incapable of forgiving any sin without Christ, and Christ is unwilling to forgive any sin without the Church.” Again, God could have done otherwise, He does not need us to save others, but He wanted to share with us everything, in order to dignify us, in order to make us greater than we were. God is unwilling to save without His Church, and so “What God has joined together, man must not separate. This is a great mystery, but I understand it as referring to Christ and the Church.” God chose freely His Church, as a man marries freely the woman he loves. We are chosen, chosen to beget children for God.

 

3. What has this to do with parents and children? Well, God wants to save your children through you, the parents. God has chosen you, mother and father, mother alone, father alone, to communicate salvation to your children, even once they are adults. God gives you the grace not only of giving them life, but also the grace of giving them eternal life. And let me tell you simply how: doing the same Jesus did for us. Pray for them, suffer for them, and teach them.

 

To suffer for your children is also a way to do penance for them. Your sorrow for their wrongdoings, your patience when they are not nice to you, your sacrifices to make their lives better by giving up your own life, are your own ways to join Jesus on the Cross. When you suffer for them, Jesus and you suffer together on the Cross for their salvation: you and Jesus are one. Jesus wants to save them with your help. St. Paul said: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24).

 

Teach them. Speak of God to them, speak of what you do in church, speak of what you learn here. Teach them most of all with your example. If they see you coming to Mass, they may think about it. Same thing with confession, with justice, with generosity. Teach them by the way you live, teach them by the way you die. How many children come back to church or to confession when a father or a mother calls the priest and receives communion before death. My family came back to church thanks to the way my grandmother died.

 

We can really make a difference in the lives of our children. God has chosen us to help Him in the most divine of all works: the salvation of souls. This is the reason why Jesus is born, is the reason why Jesus died on the cross, is the reason why he rose from the dead and went to heaven: the salvation of human kind, the eternal life of heaven. We are called to save the world with him, to share the mission of Jesus. Let us accept the offer of the one who has freely chosen us.   –Fr. Andrew