On emboldening our children

“LIFE can be messy,” I told my friend the other day as we were talking about the problems and challenges of people in families, parishes, and other communities.

“It’s definitely not a perfect world, “ I added. “The reality is that no matter how we try our best to build a good church or school we’ll often encounter problems. There will always be struggles and conflicts.”

But do we really want our children to live in a perfect world? In other words, do we want to insulate them so that they won’t go through the angst and anxieties of this life?

I believe there is a value in suffering, tension, and pain. We’ll just have to think about our own lives, how many times these same things that we often reject in our lives are the ones that make us strong individuals.

They make us tough, flexible, and resilient in dealing with changes.

This is how we should train our kids, not stay away from any tension or conflicts but to know how to face them. If we do this, they will become stalwart, courageous and independent individuals.

There are parents who intentionally put their children in a multi-cultural setting, in order that there can rub elbows with those who are different from them. There are those who put their kids in a hard-up community so that their kids will be exposed early to the difficult realities of this world.

It’s not that these parents are masochistic, they are realistic. Indeed, they realize that their children would not be living in a perfect world or situation. So why not put them in these situations early on in their lives so that they can be trained to live with tensions and know how to resolve them. Then they can become effective leaders anywhere they go.

The Scripture Readings that we have today are about tension and anxieties. In the Acts of the Apostles (6:17), the Twelve Apostles and the early Christian community faced a challenge.

While earlier, they seemed to be living in harmony by sharing goods with one another, later on they experienced a tension: the minorities (in this case the Greeks) felt that they were being treated poorly. This seemed to be contradicting their Christian values, how they should treat everyone charitably.

The Twelve Apostles had to resolve the issue by selecting among them seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom they had to appoint to this task, while they would devote themselves in prayer and to the ministry of the word.

The Letter of Peter (2:4-9) talks about the role of suffering in the early Church. The early Christians must endure any rejection or humiliation like Jesus Christ. Their perseverance would show to the world that they are indeed “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own…

The Gospel (John 14:1012) even reveals a deeper pain. Jesus Christ was saying his last discourse to his beloved disciples. And the pain of his departure was difficult them.  Jesus had to appease their anxiety by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” 

We need to encourage our children to see the value of tension, pain, and suffering. We have to allow them to accept them, in light of our Christian faith.

In their struggles, they must never lose hope that Christ, who has empowered them with the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments, would embolden their hearts. Amen.

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Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas attended St. John Seminary in Camarillo, California and earned his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.  For twenty years, he has been in the parish ministry of large multi-cultural communities.  Since 2002, he has been the pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Los Angeles. Please email Fr. Rodel at odey413@aol.com.

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