IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU: A HOMILY ON THE HOLY FAMILY, YEAR C
In the movie ‘Star Wars’, Han Solo was begging his son, Kylo Ren to come back hom, but his son said to him “I am not your son, your son is gone. He was weak and foolish like his father, so I destroyed him.” Eventually, he killed his father. Some experts have argued that Kylo Ren had a virgin birth and is not truly Han Solo’s son. But this is debatable.
THEY ARE NOT YOUR CHILDREN
Beloved: See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it does not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. “Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandments, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who keep his commandments abide in him and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit he has given us. : There is one serious fact that we all need to get used to. It is the fact that my life is not about me and your life is not about you. There is a constant battle between parent and children; the parent are telling the children what to do and the children have a different idea. However, learning to do the will of their parent and not their own is a training ground for them to learn to do the will of God. Therefore, the family does not exist for its own sake.
Every Child belongs to God and to forget this fact is to get it all wrong. So, parenting is not just about getting your children to fulfil your plans for them, but it is about helping them to fulfil God’s plan for them. It is not about them keeping your rules but about them keeping God’s commandment.
GOD HEARS! SO HEAR HIM!
And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.” And the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and abide there for ever.” And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. Then they slew the bull, and they brought the Child to Eli. And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me my petition which I made to Him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”: The name of Samuel means “God hears”. ‘El’ is God, as we see in names like Elshadai, Elohim, etc. Shamah is to hear, like we see in the Torah “Shamah Israel…”, which means “Hear, O Israel…”. However, later in his life, Samuel will be taught by Eli to say to God “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”. The obligation of every parent is to teach their children to be able to say the same thing. God hears us, but we in turn should grow to hear Him.
THE HOLY MASS
The images of flour and skin of wine is no coincidence here. The best way to teach our children obedience, the best way to dedicate them to God is by bringing them to the Holy Mass. At mass we learn in the liturgy of the Word to listen to God, and we learn in the liturgy of the Eucharist to receive Jesus who has given himself to us and to give ourselves in turn to him. Bring your children to mass, at least on Sundays. If possible, do not limit it to Sundays. Sunday is the least we can do. Get them into catechism classes, Sunday School, etc. Allow them to join the altar servers and to get involved in the church. Teach them to appreciate and worship Jesus in the Eucharist. This is the least we can do to dedicate them to God and to crown it all, pray with them at home.
Notice that she does not say she gives the child to God. She lent the child to God. First God lent her the child, then she lends the child back to God, then God will return the child back to her permanently.
This is what happens at every mass. God gives us the gift of bread and wine. We return the same bread and wine to God at the Offertory. The priest leads us in the consecration. After the consecration, the bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Christ. Then the priest gives him back to us and then we have a good communion. We cannot have the communion without the Offertory and consecration. At this stage, it becomes ours permanently. It is no longer lent but given. We have to lose them to gain them. It is in giving them to God that God consecrates them, and they are made into little Christs, and then we receive them as our true children.
MY FATHER’S BUSINESS
The parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.His parent did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; And when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.: The boy was 12 years old. Obviously, they did not start bringing him to the temple when he was 12, because it says they went, according to custom. They have a custom of doing this every year. They also have daily customs which is praying at home, and they also have weekly custom, which is going to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Many catholics today have an annual custom of coming to church either on good friday or ash Wednesday and after that they wait for another year. Some have a weekly custom of coming to church every week. All these are good customs but we can do better than that. How about also a daily custom of family prayer. This can make a big difference. It is important to establish these customs as soon as they are born, even before they are born. It is easier to make a lasting impression on young children than on grown ups. The older they get, the more unteachable they become.
Jesus insists He must be about His Father’s business. It was after this that Jesus followed them home, and truly became their son. If you prevent the children from being in their Father (God)’s house, they will leave home and never come back again. But the more they spend time in their Father’s house, then they will be able to truly follow you home and become your children. The only Children you can call your own are the ones you have shown the way to the Father’s house, the ones you have given back to God.
There is no communion where there is no community. Notice that his parent took it for granted that he is with the other people. They allow their children to mix freely with people. Sometimes we are too scared of other people, that we prevent our children from meeting other people, and mixing, even with other children. I feel sorry for children who are always in the company of their parent, with no opportunity to interact with other people. The beauty of the church is that it is a community, and as much as our children belong to us, they also belong to the community. Bringing them to mass teaches them that being at home is good, but we are community people and we are communally responsible for each other. If the children belong to the community, it means that someone in the community can tell the child what is right and wrong even if they are not the parent of the children.
It is very painful to look for a missing child, especially when you are not sure if they are alive or dead. Notice that Joseph did not just sit at home and ask Mary to go look for the child. And they did not spend the whole time arguing whose fault it was that the child is missing. Mary said “Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously”. Parent should work together in bringing their children home. And most parent look for their children at one stage or another, because one of the dangers of the children mixing with the community is that they can get corrupted by the bad elements in the community. This is why parent have to watch carefully and as much as they are to allow the children to mix with the community, they should also monitor where the children go and what they do, especially when the children at very young.
“This is not my child. My child is gone.”. Ask the intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary and St. Joseph, to intercede for you. Notice that he was found after three days. This is a sign of the death and resurrection of Christ. Dedicate the children to Jesus in the Eucharist. Let the evil side of their lives die with Christ, and after three days, your child will rise with Christ to a new life. Today we will dedicate all our Children to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and we will pray specially through the intercession of St. Joseph and Mary for our children who may have lost their ways in life.
Often, parent struggle between allowing the children to do what they want and making the children do what the parent want. But it is not about allowing the children to do what they want. Interestingly, it is not even about teaching the children how to do what their parent want. It is about helping the parent to fulfil God’s plans in their lives. To understanding this is to understand the secret to family life.
I am Fr. Ifeanyichukwu Henry Nwokoro, CSsR. I am your fellow child of God and this is my way of sharing my daily reflections with you. Please feel free to leave a comment, suggestion or question. Let everything that lives and that breathes give praise to the Lord.
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