St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Our Children and the Church -Homily June 12, 2016

Our Children and the Church                                                         -Homily June 12, 2016

 

In today’s Gospel Jesus shows us again how merciful God is. Let me say a few words that may be helpful to those parents who struggle because their children don’t come to church. But let me reflect on last Sunday’s Gospel also.

 

We cry sometimes for our children like the widow of the Gospel. Her child was now dead. Our children are not dead perhaps, but they don’t have the life that comes from the Bread of life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54).

 

A mother wants the best for her children, and the best is faith, the life of faith, eternal life. That is why we want our children to come to church: so that they may have life. The health of the body is not enough, because the healthiest body will die one day, no matter how much you do. The health of the soul is more important. It gives meaning to life, it gives strength to live, it gives peace in front of suffering and death, it gives the greatest possible joy on earth. It is the joy of having been loved by God himself.

 

Let me say three things that may be helpful.

 

1) Pray with confidence. Jesus rose the child of the widow without even being asked. How much more he will attend your prayers! You are not asking only for the health of your children; you are asking for their spiritual good. If you were asking for something of this world, you could wonder if it is the will of God that you obtain this; but why would God not listen when we ask for something spiritual? “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13). You and God want the same: the salvation of your children. God wants it even more than you. He can do it. Why should we doubt that he is listening, and in due time they may come back?

 

2) Do not just think that what happens is your fault. Our children are free. They will not be judged for what we did, but for what they decided. Sometimes children of bad parents are good people, and sometimes the opposite. Moreover, there is no perfect father or mother. Who can say “I didn’t make any mistake in the education of my children”? That is not the point. But even in the case that you did something wrong, two things: 1) Do you think that God cannot forgive? There is nothing that gives more joy to God than to forgive us. “There is more joy in heaven for one sinner who repents than for ninety-nine righteous who do not need conversion” (Luke 15:7). If we did something wrong, we have to repent. Period. 2) But most important: Do we think that, because of our sins, God will not listen to our prayers, if we repent? That is wrong. The readings of today are speaking about this. The love of God does not respond to our own perfection, but comes across our imperfection to save us. We do not obtain things in prayer because we are good, but because God is good. We have just to be humble and pray. God does not give his graces to those who pray thinking that they are good enough to obtain what they ask. God gives his grace to those who realize that they are not worthy of receiving anything, but they also know that God is good, that God forgives, and so they ask; “God resist the proud, but gives his grace to the humble,” says the Scripture, and also: “The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds.” Let us pray for our children with confidence. Let us not think that our prayer is not heard because of our sins. Repent and pray. God is good. He is much more merciful than we think...

 

3) Invite your children, but don’t judge them. We don’t exactly know why they don’t come to church, in the bottom of their hearts. They may not know as much as we know, how important the mass is. Invite them in a positive way. It is very important that we ourselves try to find joy in the church. Sometimes our message is misunderstood, because it looks like we want to impose a burden on them: “You to Come to church! Fulfill your obligation! Pay your taxes to the Lord!” Instead, they need to see that we find something else in church, that we enjoy it. In that way, they may understand that in inviting them we are loving them, because we want to share with them the most beautiful thing we have: the Bread of life.

 

Let us offer this Mass for our children and our friends who for any reason don’t come to church any more. Let us pray with confidence to the Lord, so that many people may “taste and see the sweetness of the Lord (Psalm 34:8).  –Fr. Andrew