Thursday, July 06, 2017

Giving my Children to God

Feast of St. Maria Goretti

A very common, yet overlooked, reason for the "vocation crisis" to the priesthood and religious life is that parents don't support or encourage their children to consider if God might be calling them to that vocation. I have heard many parents comment on how they would not allow their children to "waste" their talents. They are well meaning but very confused. To answer the call to any vocation is to put one's talents in the service of God.

In today's readings we see to examples of giving our children to God. They are wonderful examples of placing all of our faith in the Lord and His plans.

The story of Abraham taking Isaac to sacrifice has always amazed me. To start, I would have seriously questioned whether or not I was really hearing the voice of God asking me to do such a thing. Yet Abraham was a man of God and knew God's voice well and responded generously. Then there is Isaac who is obviously old enough to talk, work, and be knowledgeable about sacrifice. Did he fight when his dad began to bind him? Was he screaming for help when his father raised the knife to slaughter him? We know that regardless of what took place at that moment, Isaac became faithful to God. He was at an age that he perhaps remembered the terror and the miracle. He remembered wondering why his father would do this, yet He understood his father's faithfulness when he heard the voice of God and saw the ram.

Abraham shows us that no sacrifice is too great for the God who has given us everything. I like to think that my children belong to the Lord. He has entrusted them to me for a time and I must be ready to give them to Him and His service at any time. With six boys it is a painful thought that I might never have grandchildren if they were all to become priests but I will make that sacrifice. It is also painful to think that none of them will become priests but I will make that sacrifice too if it is God's will.

I associate today's Gospel with children because Jesus calls the paralytic "my son." In other translations we are told that they brought "the child" to Him on a mat. This episode shows how important it is for me as a parent to lead my children to God. I must seek to live a life that points to Christ. My vocation must be viewed as one in the service of the Lord. My vocation to being a husband and father must complement the vocation to the priesthood and the single life. Fulfilling my calling to the best of my ability must show my children that the "trinity of vocations" are complementary and that they support and foster one another.

Of course there is the chance that my children will reject Christ. They may end up being like those in yesterday's reading who "begged Him to leave them." However, I cannot let this possibility disable me. If those carrying the paralytic would have been concerned only with whether or not their friend wanted to see Jesus or what the crowd would think, that man would have remained paralyzed and they would have been responsible. In the same way, if I do nothing, hoping only that my children follow Christ, I will be held accountable. But if I do all that I can and they still fall away, it rests upon them.

I must have the faith of Abraham even when, and especially when, I don't understand what God is doing. I must have the faith of those friends of the paralytic and do all that I can to bring my children to Christ.

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Mother's Day Weekend.