Raising Faith-filled Children

Photo by Bok Pioquid, Christian Service Involvement Program, Ateneo High School
Photo by Bok Pioquid, Christian Service Involvement Program, Ateneo High School

23 June 2013. 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Zec 12: 10-11, 13:1; Psalm 63; Gal 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24

I have a story: A new neighbor struck up a conversation with a 7-year-old boy living next door.

“How many kids in your family?” he asked.

“Eight,” the child said.

“My, my. That many children must cost a lot of money,” said the neighbor.

“Oh, we don’t buy them. We raise them,” replied the boy.

We do raise children. It would have been easier if they can be taken off the rack, but no, raising children requires not just our lives, but the whole community. Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote a book in 1995, titled after an African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Her book, “It Takes A Village” affirms that how children develop and what they need to succeed are intertwined with their social environment. In that book, Mrs. Clinton believes that we have to make necessary changes for the sake of our children. Technology has strained the fabric of family life. It has had many effects on the lives of our children, physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally and spiritually.

Remember the days when we spent family time dining together, sharing our stories together, over the meal our parents prepared for the whole family? Today, it has been eroded by many telenovelas, that the television has lessened the time to personally talk about events in our lives, rather than the events of Ser Chief and Maya in “Please Be Careful With My Heart,” or Celyn and Margaux in “Ina, Kapatid, Anak.” The McCann-Erickson Youth Study in 2000 and 2005 indicated that virtual technology has impacted the way our young connect and bond with the important people in their lives. In 2000, 38% of families in the Philippines eat out as one of their leisure activities; in 2005, it has reduced to 18%. Do the math, how about in 2013? In 2000, 29% spend time with their families; in 2005, it was down to 19%. How about now?

The experience of family and community impacts also our lives of faith. Faith grows in community. And therefore, if we are to raise faith-filled children, how do we do it? Are there ordinary opportunities that can nurture spirituality at home?

Jesus asked his disciples in the Gospel today who He was to them. They have spent ample time together to get to know him better, beyond first impressions or common knowledge. But what they said — that He was John the Baptist, or Elijah or one of the prophets — indicated a stagnant relationship. But Peter was able to know Him. He said, when asked, “The Christ of God.” Peter’s knowledge of Jesus has become the Truth, because he spent time with Him and at the same time, spent precious moments with his companions.

As a family or a group of friends or as one community, what can we do so that we do not just mouth what other people say who Jesus is, but genuinely allow this intimate knowledge of Jesus to grow in our lives?

First, strengthen your own faith. It is important that we too spend time with the Lord. It would be best if we could pray using Scripture, not just coming to the church and talking to the Lord about what we need. Of course that is fine, but to know the Lord intimately is to read from the bible.

Second, keep good company. Mrs. Clinton said that it takes a village to raise a child. The same thing applies: It takes good company to raise faith-filled children. To keep our faith through the many ups and downs as life unfolds, it helps to surround ourselves with others who share our values. Many in our culture do not value the practice of religious faith and practice. So, find people whose attitudes and life choices support your highest values. If you don’t live what you believe, you will, over time, come to believe what you live.

Third, watch your language. There is a difference when we say, “I have to pick you up,” than “I get the chance to spend time with my kids as I drive them home.” Do you want to make a quick improvement in your attitude throughout the day? Then let’s change the way we talk about ourselves and our duties. Rather than, “Let’s go! We have to go to church” we can say, “Let’s go worship the Lord with our neighbors.”

Let us strive then to raise our kids spiritually by encouraging them to develop their relationship with Christ personally and communally.

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