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