Tuesday the 19th Week of the Year
Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14.
It is not by accident that Jesus speaks about
leaving the 99 sheep and going after the one who strayed
in the same breath that he spoke about the child
being the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Why did he pick a child as the model for his discipleship?
Consider the characteristics of a child:
A child is dependent on others, curious about everything.
A child is also open to learning and always wants to help.
They have a beautiful disposition of lacking self-importance
because they know they are important
to the one to whom they are dependent,
a parent or a teacher or their Lord and God.
So, do our children on the whole
have this kind of relationship with the Lord Jesus
as they grow into adulthood?
We would have to sadly say, no.
According to studies by researchers at the University of Notre Dame,
50% of children baptized in the Catholic faith have left the Church.
Out of that 50% that do consider themselves Catholic,
only 7% of them raised in the Church still attend Mass weekly,
pray a couple of times a week
and say their faith is extremely important to them.
Brandon Vogt, author of Return: How to Draw Your Child Back to the Church, states that there are several reasons our children
growing into adulthood leave the Faith.
However, there is only one reason, and that is
because they have no anchor to hold them down –
grounding them in the faith as it were.
To put it simply, the ultimate reason people leave the Catholic Church is because they are not rooted in a living encounter with Jesus in the Church. If they consistently encounter the Lord, and despite all the problems, frustrations, and pain they may suffer in the Church, they would nevertheless echo St. Peter’s reply to Jesus when he asked whether Peter would leave him: ‘Master, to whom shall we go?’ (John 6:68).
When anyone loses the qualities of being childlike
in a relationship with the Lord Jesus and the Church,
they will seek out something else
in which to anchor their life and their values.
And this is why it is no accident that Jesus tells us
to leave the 99 and seek out the one who is lost
in the same breath when he speaks of his disciples
being like children to him.
Pray my friends in this Mass for anyone you know
who has lost that anchor and are seeking it elsewhere.
And pray that our Holy Roman Catholic Church
will always have a living relationship with our Lord Jesus
as we worship, pray, and serve him in all whom he sends us every day.