Gospel Message & Recording
In the Gospel reading today we hear about the birth of St. John the Baptist, who would become the forerunner to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. St. John made a pathway for Christ, who would go on to the Cross, the grave and finally be seated at the right hand of God in power and glory. In the Gospel of St. Luke it states that when St. John was born, everyone asked, “Who will this child become, for the hand of God is with him.” This former question is one that is asked not only by those standing and witnessing the birth of St. John; but also by us parents today living in the 21st century.
Let me first and foremost say that this message is not reserved for parents or soon to be parents; rather, it is for everyone who listens. In other words, I hope there are pieces of truth that a single person can use from this sermon. For the words, “Who will this child become?” is not only reserved for parents, but for everyone. We in turn can ask ourselves, “Who have I become?”
As parents (or soon to be parents) we may often contemplate with our spouses about “how our children will turn out.” This can bring us worry or make us conscious of our parenting skills. However, one thing is for sure, God has called some of us to be parents to ask the question, “Who will my child become?” Similarly, God has called us as individuals to search our own heart and ask ourselves the question, “Who have I become?”
Here are a few points that could aid us in our journey so that the outcomes to those questions are positive.
Be Honest: As parents we have to be honest. We should always remember that our children are watching us, attempting to pick-up on any contradictions. It is only natural for a child to do this. It is a part of their growth process. Because if they are told to do something, they need some sort of concrete example; and naturally they keep an eye out to see if their parents actually do what they say. As parents we are not perfect, but we should try our best to be as honest as possible. Mistakes happen, at which point, we should make sure to explain any contradiction that might be apparent in our lives. As a Priest, one of the main complaints that I receive from the youth is that their parents don’t follow what they say. If we are concerned with who our child will “become,” then we have to be honest.
Church Life: As Orthodox Christians we have to be cognizant of attending church regularly and on a timely fashion. It is hard with children. I agree! But we should do our best. If we recall some of our upbringings, we would notice that our parents were mindful to attend church regularly and timely. As the generations progress forward it is expected that these qualities get watered down. However, I would say that we don’t have to accept that idea. It is true that times have gotten tougher to raise children, but that only means that we have to get tougher on ourselves—to attend church, to take part in ministries, to pray the evening and morning prayers at home, to do the fasts at home, etc. These are all areas that my wife and I have difficulty in. So, please remember that I am not preaching to you but preaching with you. There is a famous saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” If you want to know “Who your child will become,” just look at yourself. This is indeed a strong indicator. Now, this doesn’t mean that life has to be about doing everything right. In fact, we will probably get a lot of things wrong; but in the end, will our children see a true relationship with Christ, lived out in the life of the Church? So, this leads us into the self-introspection, “Who have I become?” Let us pray that we can answer this as best as possible in light of the values and virtues that Christ teaches us in the Gospels.