“Tell me what’s more important than being present for children and listening to them. I’ll wait.” ~ Maxime Lagacé
Unfortunately, fate chooses our parents. Children need champions in their lives if they are to succeed and survive. Many children are born into broken homes with broken parents, and some with no parents at all. Parentless children put tremendous pressure on social workers and government agencies to find homes for these children. The foster care system is necessary but has a history of being exploited for nothing more than a revenue stream. This reality causes many children to get bounced from one foster home to another. People are curious why so many of these children grow up dazed, confused, rebellious, and trusting nobody, duh.
Jesus is direct in His teachings about children. As adults, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, we have a significant responsibility to protect and teach the children in our care. God commissions us to teach them the truth about God and demonstrate by example, not by words, what it means to love God and love our neighbors. This teaching we are about to read from Jesus is clear that if we fall short of God’s chosen idea for caring for God’s kids, and don’t attempt to change our behavior and reconcile our past, then woe to any one of us who fail the children.
Matthew 18:1-9 (CEB)
Greatest in the kingdom
18 At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 Then he called a little child over to sit among the disciples, 3 and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Falling into sin
6 “As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and be drowned in the bottom of the lake. 7 How terrible it is for the world because of the things that cause people to trip and fall into sin! Such things have to happen, but how terrible it is for the person who causes those things to happen!”
I was raised by a single mother who walked away from a prior marriage due to dysfunction and alcoholism, leaving behind a son and two daughters. In my early years, my mother turned her life over to God and set out to reconcile her relationship with the son and two daughters she left behind. My mother once again became their mother, and reconciliation took hold in our family. Our mother would go on to be the leader of our family and a hero to many. She was the most incredible winner in my life, and we miss her dearly. Momma Long’s legacy continues to influence our family as we journey onward in this experience called life.
My father, on the other hand, was nowhere to be found. I saw him only a handful of times until my teens. In 1988 I set out to reconnect with my father only to discover that he had taken his life in 1986. I have long forgiven my father for his absence in my life. He was a broken man with many demons, alcoholism being his biggest. Later in life, as I started my recovery journey, I discovered a giant hole in my soul, and it was in the shape of a dad. Children need their fathers. If you are a father who has fallen short of his responsibilities, today is the day that changes. It’s time to suck it up and get in the game.
Friends, children need their parents to be healthy, present, and responsible. It’s never too late to make a difference in your children’s life. Many who read this devotional today have strained relationships with their children, grandchildren, etc. Reconciliation is possible, but first, you must have your own life in order. Turn your life over to God, get help by seeking wise counsel through mentorship, sponsorship, and professional support when necessary. It would be best for everyone if you go to any lengths to heal and reconcile with the children in your life. Who makes that possible? God makes that possible! God always responds when you honestly seek a relationship with God.
You may be empty nesters or a family called to bless other children by fostering or adopting them into your care. Premade families create many challenges for both the children and the caregivers. If you are committed to these children, the Spirit of God will provide you the spiritual mojo it will take to care for these children. Children need love, children need heroes, and children need God to thrive. We have the ability to deliver all three; let us not fail God’s kids.
For the Family (Mother Teresa)¹
you have given us the model of life
in the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Help us, O Loving Father,
to make our family another Nazareth
where love, peace, and joy reign.
May it be deeply contemplative,
revived with joy.
Please help us to stay together in joy
and sorrow in family prayer.
Teach us to see Jesus in the members of our families,
especially in their distressing disguise.
May the Eucharistic heart of Jesus
make our hearts humble like his
and help us to carry out our family duties
in a holy way.
May we love one another
as God loves each one of us,
more and more each day,
and forgive each other’s faults
as you forgive our sins.
Help us, O Loving Father,
to take whatever you give
and give whatever you take with a big smile.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cause of our joy: Pray for us.
St. Joseph: Pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, be always with us, guide and protect us. Amen.