How do we respond to our children when they look at the world we are handing them and ask “If there is a God, why does he allow all this bad to happen?” It is embarrassing to admit the amount of times I have failed to answer this question adequately. Unfortunately I am not alone. The fact is most of us have a hard time answering that question. I have come to believe that the exodus from the American Church is due, in large part, to our collective failure as a church to effectively answer the question above. A Pew Survey from 2014 showed that over a third of all millennials now identify as “unaffiliated” while only 16 percent identify as Catholic. We have to do better!
It is not long after a teenager, in a very serious way, asks the question “why are bad things allowed to happen” that they either are diving feet first into the Faith or they are saying “I don’t believe in God”. At the moment that they insist on an “real” answer, the relevance of the Church is made clear to them or it is made clear that the Church has no relevance. In last weeks readings, Habakkuk like so many of our young people wrestled with God over questions of oppression and justice. Habakkuk heard God’s reply and our youth need to hear God’s reply too. Habakkuk uses an imagery of wicked people gathering the righteous into fishing nets and hauling them away to be consumed and objectified. In the Gospels we find Jesus using Habakkuk’s imagery to answer Habakkuk’s concerns.
Jesus calls us to be fishers of people! We must weave our own nets, and gather our own people to respond to our mission. So when our children ask “why does God allow injustice?” Our answer should be “God does not allow it; that is why God created you! This is your purpose, to put an end to injustice!”
Our children were baptized to be Priest, Prophets, Kings, and yes fishers of people. Expecting anything less from them is insulting and will surely send them to find their baptized call outside of the Church.
by Gabe Triplett
Most parents want their children to do good in school, be involved in sports or music or dance, go on to college, get a good job, get married etc. etc. etc. These wants for our children are natural and come from a place of love, of wanting our children to be happy and successful. But do we as parents push too hard? What is it that will make our children truly happy? What is it to be truly successful?
In my time spent with youth the one thing that always comes up is how completely stressed out they are by the expectations put on them. On top of school they have hours of homework and hours of practice. Everything they do has a background noise telling them that if they don’t do “good” and do “more” then they are doomed to overall failure. “If I don’t get an A on my 10th grade math midterm I will never get into a good college.” If I don’t make it onto the varsity team this year the scouts will never look at me and my parents will be very disappointed.”
In 2008 the National Library of Medicine reported that:
Experts say these statistics have only risen since then. Numbers like these are staggering and frightening. So how do we change things?
In last week’s gospel we saw Lazarus as the example of what we should strive for. Our faith tells us not to strive for worldly “success” but to strive for a relationship with our Creator. Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). I am convinced that as parents we are the ones most responsible for teaching our children the faith, we are the ones responsible for making sure they are receiving Christ’s peace.
So here is my plea, tell your children often that you will love them no matter how good they do in school or in extracurricular activities. LIKE, EVERY SINGLE DAY TELL THEM! On Sunday evening when they are weary from too much homework and burdened by the stress of the test the next day, send them to youth group for a little rest. It’s important!