Mass for Catholic Home School FamiliesOur Lady of Lourdes ChurchFebruary 24, 2007(Isaiah 58:9-14; Psalm 86:1-6 and Luke 5:27-32)
In the concluding blessing from the Rite of Baptism these words are addressed to the parents: "You will be the first teachers of your children in the ways of faith. May you always be the best of teachers." And then this prayer is offered on behalf of the parents, the newly baptized children and those present: "May He make you always, wherever you may be, faithful members of His holy people and send His peace upon all who are gathered here, in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Dear parents, you have taken seriously your role as the first teachers of your children in the ways of faith. You understand why the Second Vatican Council states, "It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught to have a knowledge of God, to worship Him and to love their neighbor." (Declaration on Christian Education, 1965, # 12) Thank you, parents, for your example of faithful married love and for giving the Church and our diocese the precious gift of family life, so well represented here today.
The words from the prophet Isaiah today highlight a serious responsibility you have as teachers: You must let the Light shine in the midst of darkness. More than ever in our modern world we are aware of the darkness: a lack of reverence for the sacredness of human life; a disregard for the call to purity and chastity; constant temptations and obstacles placed in our midst and a world where people so easily treat each other as enemies or strangers. And so, parents, you are obliged to make sure the darkness never overshadows the light of Christ within you and your children.
The prophet Isaiah teaches us how to fulfill that mandate: (1) Remember that the Lord your God is in your midst-be with Him as much as possible and stay holy; (2) Imitate the compassion and love of God in all your dealings with family, children and those in most need; and (3) Believe firmly that it is the Lord your God who will guide you, renew you and provide you with the grace you need. Dear parents, your desire and intention to be faithful teachers of your children in the ways of faith are most evident. Today and especially throughout this sacred season, perhaps the Lord is simply asking you to rely more and more on the strength He provides and less and less on your own limited resources.
To the children and young people present today: You heard me speak earlier about the Sacrament of Baptism-that moment when God claimed you as His own and made you a member of His Church. Please always remember how precious you are to God and how much you are loved by Him, your parents, by your bishop and the entire Church.
There are two special words from today's Gospel that I want you to remember. It is when Jesus says to the tax collector today, "Follow me." You are very blessed in having parents who so much want you to hear the voice of God speaking to your heart. And to each one of you He is saying the same: "Follow me." How do you respond to that call? (1) You stay close to the Lord Jesus in prayer; (2) You strive every day to know Him better; (3) You leave the crowd-especially when individuals are not doing things of God, so that you can walk in the ways of the Lord; (4) You treat one another, especially friends who are lost or sad, with kindness in word and deed; and (5) You repeat the words of the psalmist every day, especially in your time of need: "I trust in You, O Lord my God."
In a special way, the Lord will say to many of you, "Follow Me in and through a life of service as priest or consecrated religious." I pray every day that many of you will respond generously to that call. Our diocese needs you!
As we gather at this Eucharist today, we ask the Lord for the grace we need to grow in our knowledge and love of God; to follow Him, with complete dependence on the strength He provides. In that renewed faith, I again pray for you, dear parents, that "you will always be for your children the best of teachers," that He will make them and all of us "faithful members of His holy people and send His peace upon all who are gathered here today in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen."