Today a crisis exists in the Church. The question is often raised about how are we going to get our young people to actively participate in the sacramental life of the Church?
Well Jesus, and before Him Ezekiel, had the same problem. The people they knew best, the very people they lived and worked with and lived their daily lives, would not respond to the message that the prophets delivered. “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” And the Gospel tells us that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith.
Today, because of the information overload that exist because of instant communications, this information serves as a stimulus in the lives of young people. They are constantly pulled in every direction and bombarded with ads that tell them what they need to do to be perfect human beings. Except the advice that is given often does not include God in the equation.
In my experience, I have found that young people are not bad people. They have been influenced by a culture of death and materialism and the lack of caring shepherds to bring them into the assembly of the faithful. They do not hear the message of the good news of God’s love and mercy and struggle to find meaning in the world in which they live. Nothing is permanent and everything is disposable.
So, what can parents and grandparents do to shepherd our children into a meaningful relationship with the Lord?
Firstly, do not preach to your children and grandchildren. Instead, pray for the insight that only God can provide and see them as God sees them. They are people who are searching for a relationship with the Lord, but they are not aware that they are searching. We need to accept them where they are, not condoning their behaviors, and see the good that God has placed in their hearts.
Secondly, we need to be shepherds. A good shepherd must first be a good follower. We must attach ourselves in relationship to the Lord and let this relationship grow so that our lives give praise and honor to the Lord. We need to be examples of how to live life and live life to the fullness as God intended and not the world. Being a shepherd means sacrifice. We must be willing to turn away from the things of the world and embrace the things of heaven. In other words, we must be the very example of who we want our children to be.
Thirdly, we must claim salvation for ourselves and our children as the Blessed Mother taught us at Medjugorje. Mary told the children see appeared to, if people want salvation for their then they need to claim on behalf of their children.
Fourthly, we pray everyday for our children from the heart that they may experience God in a special way.
Fifthly, get out of the way. Let God be God. Because, as Paul tells us, in our weakness we find strength. In our humility, knowing we do not have the strength or the means to bring our children back to God, we surrender to our weakness, and we let God.
Today, we celebrate Independence Day when we declared our freedom from England and began to fulfill the vision the Holy Spirit of a country where all would be welcomed and free to worship their God, find meaningful work to support themselves and their families. We would be a country where all are equal, and we would not be ruled by other people but have the freedom to govern ourselves. Our founding fathers were inspired by the Holy Spirit to create a new Jerusalem.
Today, we find that vision blurred by those who think that the people are not smart enough to govern themselves and want to abolish the dream and replace it with the evils of an oligarchy, a nation ruled by a few. Those few promote a culture of death and foster separation to weaken the will of the people and turn us against each other.
We must not let this happen. We must pray for our nation and our representatives in government. At times it may seem as though we are too weak to do anything about the evils in our world and society. But when we are weak, and allow God to be God, miracles happen.
May God continue to bless our families and our nation that we love and protect us from the snares of the evil one in our world and in our society.