Sunday, December 30, 2012

Still In There

So, I've used this joke before--and even on this feast--but it works so well and still gets laughs!

Blessings on all of your families...

   The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, & Joseph   

A Sunday school teacher wanted to make sure
that her young class understood
that Jesus wasn’t just a made-up story,
but is real and living even now.
So she asked her students, “Where is Jesus today?”
Stevie raised his little hand and said, “He’s up in heaven.”
Maggie was next called upon and answered, “Jesus lives in my heart.”
Jake was waiving his hand furiously in the back of the room.
“I know!  I know!” he blurted out.  “Jesus is in our bathroom!”
The whole class got very quiet.
His teacher gathered her wits, swallowed hard, 
and asked Jake how he knew such a thing.
“Well,” he said, “every morning my father gets up,
bangs on the bathroom door, and yells,
‘Good Lord, are you still in there?’”

A few years ago,
the childhood home 
of Pope Benedict XVI
was turned into a small museum 
in his native Bavaria.
During the course of renovations,
a Christmas letter was discovered,
handwritten by a seven-year-old boy 
back in 1934.

The letter was just put on public display 
for the first time;
translated, it reads:
Dear Christ Child!
Come quickly down to earth.
You will bring joy to children.
You also will bring joy to me.
I would like a prayer book for Mass,
a green Mass vestment,
—he and his brother, Georg, 
liked to "play church"—
and [an image of] the heart of Jesus.
I will always be good.
Greetings from 
Joseph Ratzinger.

Clearly, the Catholic faith
had a central place in the Ratzinger household.

As that Sunday school teacher asked:
Where is Jesus today?
What place does the good Lord have in your family’s life?

Parents have an essential role
in shaping the religious imagination and identity of their children.
That’s an amazing power and an awesome responsibility. (cf. R. Smith)
(And while I say it belongs to “parents,”
I’m thinking of grandparents and godparents, older siblings,
aunts and uncles, teachers and neighbors, too.)As we can see from their annual Passover pilgrimage,
Mary and Joseph were diligent
in passing on their most deeply held values—
especially their religious tradition—to their Son.
Likewise, regularly coming here, to the Lord’s temple,
as a family for Mass
is at the heart of Catholic family life;
for it, there can be absolutely no substitute.
But things mustn’t stop even there.
Jesus went down with them to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them.
It takes real discipline to raise disciples:
to not only instruct them in the truths of our faith,
but to also inspire them to lovingly and faithfully
live out God’s commandments.
Nothing teaches children more
than the example—good or bad—of their parents.

It’s fairly safe to say most parents here today
don’t have to worry about raising a future Pope…
…but we should all be trying to raise future saints.
Headlines these days can make us wonder
how well we’re doing in this arena.
Yet I was touched and encouraged by a small scrap of paper
I found on the church floor after Mass late on Christmas Eve.
First, in the clear handwriting of an adult, it reads:
Dear Jesus
I Love you
God I Love you
And then in the large, shaky letters
of a child imitating Mom or Dad, it says,
GOd I LovE

It really is that simple!
And that’s what it’s all about.

Using all the means at our disposable,
we must constantly strive to make sure our youngsters
never lose sight of Jesus,
as did Mary and Joseph those three anxious days in Jerusalem.
Let’s instead make sure that our children know
that God’s Only Begotten Son,
who came down from heaven to earth at Christmas,
dwells with us still.
They can always find him here:
in the church, in the Eucharist.
May they also learn from us
how to find the good Lord at home,
in all the twists and turns of family life—
maybe even in the morning wait for the bathroom.

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