Today we mark the end
of our religious education program
until the fall.
It’s an opportunity to thank our catechists,
who give a lot time, and heart,
to help our young people deepen their faith.
In the first reading,
St. Peter says to the crowd,
you didn’t realize who Jesus is—
so Peter makes Jesus known to them.
That’s the purpose
of our religious education program.
But I must tell you that what we attempt to do,
about an hour a week,
for 30-35 weeks a year, is just not enough!
I trust you understand that, parents.
But if any parent expects
this to carry the weight
of your child’s religious education,
I must tell you—it doesn’t! It won’t!
During the week,
our children learn
arithmetic, science, history,
and they get several hours’ instruction
in these subjects, every week!
We don’t come anywhere close
to that on Sunday morning!
Our Sunday morning program presupposes
parents are providing the "meat"
of that religious instruction at home.
Now, maybe we wonder if our kids
need as much religious instruction,
as with vocabulary
or mathematics, or reading.
Look at the world around us.
Does it look like an easy place to navigate,
in terms of moral choices?
I went to a bookstore Monday;
you’ve seen, or heard about,
what’s out there:
books that claim
Jesus and Mary Magdalene hooked up,
that Jesus didn’t really die on the Cross,
or if he did, he wasn’t resurrected;
Judas wasn’t a villain,
the whole thing was made up.
And you know what?
A lot of our Catholics
don’t know how to respond!
When folks from other religions come knocking,
do you feel confident in responding?
And if we can’t explain why we believe,
how can we ever do as Christ commanded,
in today’s Gospel,
to lead others to salvation?
So, yes, religious instruction is important;
and what the parish provides
is not nearly enough.
Down the road,
we’ll talk further about this:
I welcome any thoughts you may have.
In the Gospel,
the disciples recognized Jesus
"in the breaking of the bread"—
This was on that first, Easter Sunday:
Luke, who wrote this Gospel,
is teaching us about the importance
of gathering, every Sunday, at Mass;
where we have the same encounter
with the Risen Lord.
And, we’re doing that right now!
I want to encourage and thank you
for bringing your children to Mass.
I know when they’re infants,
they don’t always do well at Mass—
as one parent put it, they have "meltdowns"!
Sometimes, other sets of eyes
turn like laser beams!
But let me say this to anyone
who is distracted:
If you’re distracted at Mass,
it’s not the baby’s fault—
it’s not the parent’s fault.
It’s your fault!
We do our best;
yes, it’s considerate
to turn our phones to silent;
but we can’t turn off babies!
But, if you want Mass without these things?
Only when this church is empty
of people will that happen!
So, instead, here’s some practical advice.
You’re at Mass, and there’s a noise;
Don’t look: don’t think about it;
just go right back to praying.
I guarantee you’ll forget about it.
You know what the true distraction is?
Not what happens over there,
but here, in our heads!
It’s what we start thinking right afterward.
So, parents, don’t hold back
from bringing the little ones.
If you feel you can’t do both—Mass, and CCD?
Then skip CCD and bring them here!
They don’t have to get it here—
with their heads;
they will get it in their hearts.
When your children were newborns,
did you talk to them? Or, did you wait
until they would understand the words?
I’m sure you didn’t wait!
They "get" it before they "get" it.
Your children are never "too young"
to be with you;
how can they be "too young"
to be with Jesus at Mass?
An infant in her father’s arms
feels the heartbeat, hears a familiar voice,
singing or speaking:
that child connects, apart from intellect.
And all of us are no more than infants
in God’s arms, in our understanding
of the reality that happens at Mass!
See, our identity as Christians:
it’s more than as individuals
who believe something about Christ:
we are a family.
And Sunday Mass
is when the family comes together—
the whole family.
And Jesus is made known to us
in the breaking of the Bread.