Image: Young child in Tuktoyaktuk
The saying goes, “A self-made person relieves God of an embarrassing responsibility”. Fortunately, there are none of us that can say we are self-made, at least not in any way that is meaningful.
From the moment we are conceived we are the inheritors of the results of millions of years of biological evolution. We are born into a world which is the product of billions of years of galactic formation. We were raised in a family which we did not choose and into a culture and community in which we were not involved in building. We made no decisions about; the color of our skin, the health of our body nor the capacity of our intellect. Maybe there are things that we wished were different about ourselves, but for life and breath we can be thankful. Without our knowledge or doing we find ourselves given a few brief moments on this earth to experience the life we have been given by God and those who ensured that we had the necessities of life and who loved us.
Our readings today talk about what it means to live a life grateful for having received so much. The prophet Hosea continues speaking the words of the Lord to the Kingdom of Israel saying, “It was I who taught Ephraim to walk… I took them up in my arms like those who lift infants to their cheek. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love.” Hosea reminds the people of all that God has done for them and how they have forgotten where it is they have come from. Despite their lack of gratitude Hosea continues saying that even now God still loves them and will not abandon them.
To me this sounds like the difficult years of family life as teen-aged children begin to question the authority of their parents. As they begin to exert their independence adolescents stretch the boundaries and rules as they venture outside the comfort and safety of home. This often results in arguments and the frustration of everyone involved and, while normal, is certainly not an easy time in the life of a family. While it is difficult, parents do not stop loving their children even when they rebel. They continue to watch and pray and trust that what they have taught their children will give them what they need to succeed as they find their way.
As the young person matures the hope is that they begin to understand that they are not separating entirely from their family but, rather, growing into a unique individual who still carries the lessons and values of those who raised them. They will have to grapple with what they have received so that they can make it their own and begin to make a life for themselves. As they do so they will come to understand the wisdom in what they have been given. They will realize also that what they have received was not just for them, but must be shared with their own children when the time comes.
In the gospel Jesus invites his newly appointed apostles to give freely of what they have received. Their time, their resources are all put at the disposal of the mission of building the kingdom. This is the task that young parents take on when they start their family. They are building something which will require self-giving and their total commitment to the children they bring in to the world. They are called to give as they have received as the circle continues.
Give thanks for those who brought you into this world and who gave you the foundation upon which you built your life. Be patient with your children, pray for them and love them as your Father in heaven has loved you.