God decided to be born so that He could die… How lucky we are to be a member of a family like that!
I was praying today for parents. All. Of. Them.
I prayed for old parents and young ones. I prayed for inexperienced parents and experienced ones. I prayed for parents with children still living and those with children gone before them to eternal life. I prayed for people who long to be biological parents with no children of their own. I prayed for people who are unwilling parents. I prayed for parents of healthy children and those of sick ones. Prayed for adopted parents and stepparents. I prayed for spiritual parents. And of course, I prayed for priests, religious and the Holy Father, who are the spiritual fathers and mothers in our Church.
As I prayed for parents, I realised one thing for sure… parenting is a difficult, difficult job!
When I was a university student many many years ago, I had many weird hours for study and part-time work, which meant that I was often home during the daytime between classes and jobs. During those hours at home I often watched the talk show, “Oprah” on a weekday afternoons in the days before Netflix and Stan. Though she has no surviving biological children (she miscarried when she was younger), Oprah Winfrey often spoke about the difficulties of parenthood, and expressed her belief that parenthood is “the most difficult job in the world.”
I am not sure that I entirely agree with that gross exaggeration. After all, last year, my tiny little newborn niece required a cardiac surgeon to perform his job by repairing a tiny valve inside her heart, which was smaller than a 20cent coin. This giant surgeon did this job using a magnifying glass, a tweezers and his own two hands… He then worked with his team to keep her alive through the days and weeks that followed her surgery. That job seems harder than parenthood to me.
But though I disagree with the exaggeration of the statement, there is something true about the difficulties of parenthood. For with parenthood comes great responsibility.
I recently read a book called the “Twelve Rules for Life” by the psychologist Jordon Peterson. One of the prevailing themes of the book is that parents have a responsibility to disciple their children, because without discipline, children do not learn to socialise correctly and will not assimilate into their communities, growing up to be lonely and mentally damaged adults.
It is an interesting idea, and perhaps one of the reasons that parenthood is seen as such a difficult commitment, this idea of responsibility. There is, after all, a LOT at stake when we raise our children and most parents are generally trying their level best to get things right and raise good people to adulthood.
Have you ever spoken to a parent who is watching their adult child make terrible terrible life-choices? Have you ever spoken to the mother of a woman who is living in an abusive relationship and who cannot or will not leave? Have you ever spoken to the parent of a drug addict? Have you had words with a father whose son has children with several women and still will not commit.?
If you wish to see heartbreak – real and honest heartbreak – talk to one such as these...
How much a parent suffers in watching their beloved child make terrible decisions! In my mind, it is perhaps the greatest torture in the world to watch a beautiful child who is loved with all your heart make choices that are NOT GOOD FOR THEM. Such poor decisions cause great grief in a family…
The whole family suffers for the decisions of the child!
No wonder, the Good Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go in search of the lost sheep…
“‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?’” (Luke 15:4).
For the Good Shepherd is our Father, and losing ONE of His children grieves His whole family.
That simple and profoundly beautiful truth is what the great saints understood. That is why a little girl from Fatima – Saint Jacinta – made extraordinary sacrifices for the reparation of sinners. She fasted, denied herself water, refused to complain about her excruciating pain, told the Blessed Virgin that she would remain alive and in pain grieving for her beloved brother Saint Francesco than die and rest in peace… Why?
Because she understood the truth… not one should be lost!
Saint Charbel was the same. He lived a life of fasting and abstinence in the mountains of Lebanon – alone as a hermit for the reparation of sinners. And he died of a stroke while holding the Blessed Eucharist during the consecration during Mass.
Saint Francis de Sales said, “Suffering becomes nothing because of the reality that there is Heaven.”
Saints such as these understood that concept! They did not see the Communion of Saints as a mere theoretical premise. They did not see the Communion of Saints as a hypothetical or philosophical theory. They saw it as their LIFE on Earth, and because of that, they CONTINUE TO LIVE it eternally in Heaven. In this way, they understood the Communion of Saints for what it is… The joining of all the souls that ever were in Heaven AND on Earth – we are a family, and we work together as a family to help each other.
The Communion of Saints is the truth.
Scott Hahn in his book, “Consuming the Word” writes, “The proclamation of the Gospel presupposes not the activity of scribes, but rather the institution of a community—a communion.”
In this cynical world of ours where we think we have all the answers, and we only listen to the truth to whittle it away to almost nothing using our supposedly superior intellectual understandings, we have forgotten something important – perhaps we have forgotten the MOST important thing…
Christ came to call sinners – ALL SINNERS. He did not want to leave any sinner behind.
God is our Father. And as THE PERFECT FATHER, God does not wish to only save some of His children. He wishes to SAVE ALL OF US – for we are ALL in His family…
That is why Christ died for our sins. Think about it. Really think about it… OUR GOD DIED FOR US…
We say it all the time, we repeat it in prayers since we are old enough to pray, we mutter it without thinking or feeling and are completely desensitised to the fact that OUR GOD DIED FOR US…
Our God who has no NEED of us and no CAUSE for death allowed Himself to be born – NOT of necessity as we are – but out of LOVE…
He was born to suffer and die for us. It was US – not HIM – who have need of death…
For death is our key to eternal life – But God had eternal life already and so He had no need of death.
“Death comes quickly. What is your life? It is a vapour, which is dissipated by a blast of wind, and is seen no more. All know that they must die, but the delusion of many is, that they imagine death as far off as if it were never to arrive.” (Saint Alphonsus Liguori).
Christ is not many. He is ONE. He is God. He had no delusion. He knew from the moment of His conception that He must die. He knew from the moment of conception that He would soon die.
And He made the decision to be conceived.
How could we possibly thank our Heavenly Father for being part of a family like that? How could we possibly?
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.