When Your Child Rejects the Faith, What Do You Do? by Janet Cassidy

/a>There are times that I am asked to do communion services for the parishes with which I am associated, and I love doing them because it requires me to dig deeper and actually study scripture.  Of course, communion services are not Mass, but today, as they are becoming a little more frequent due to priest shortages, I am happy to do them.

Since the Gospel of Luke is being proclaimed at this time, I thought I would share a passage that I had to reflect on for one of our services.  The passage is in Chapter 9 of Luke’s Gospel, verses 51-56.  This section of Chapter 9 opens Luke’s Travel Narrative, as Jesus begins his journey to his final earthly destination—Jerusalem.

Looking at the geography of the land, Samaria is physically centered between Galilee to the North and Judea to the south, so for Jesus to journey to Jerusalem (in the south), he would need to go through Samaria.  Of course, Samaria is home to the people known as Samaritans, who were not exactly friends with the Jewish people.

So in this passage, Luke tells us that the messengers of Jesus were sent ahead of him, to Samaria, to prepare a place for him.  The Samaritans rejected him, and when they did, the disciples of Jesus—specifically James and John—asked the Lord if they should “call down fire from heaven to consume them.”  Jesus rebuked them and they went to a different village.

For us today, we can take a great lesson from this passage.  How many of us have friends, or children, or spouses, who reject Jesus?  Or, if they do not reject Jesus outright, they do not attend Mass or have drifted away from the church?

How painful this is!  I believe it is a great pain for parents who must stand by and watch their adult children reject all that they have been taught.  Sometimes you can do everything right as a parent, and still lose your children spiritually.

When a parent asks, what should—or what can—I do for my child who no longer practices the faith, this is a very helpful passage.  You see, James and John, acting on what they thought would be a reasonable response, wanted to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritan people who rejected Jesus, but Jesus would have none of it.  In fact, if you look elsewhere in scripture (recall the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10, 30-37) and The Samaritan Woman (John 4, 4-42) for instance), you can find evidence that Jesus treated the Samaritan people with respect.  His response to their sinfulness or rejection was not one of punishment.

So, too, should that be our response to those who reject Jesus.  Calling down the fire of Heaven—or getting angry—is not going to help matters.

Adult children make their own choices.  You have done what you could do—what you knew to do at the time—so now you turn to prayer in the spirit of St. Monica (the mother of St. Augustine) and ask God for help.  Turn to Our Lady, the mother of Jesus, and ask her to stand with you by her Son’s side, on behalf of your child.

Be at peace in your relationship with your child and have confidence in the power of God.  Continue to be a good role model and witness to the faith with your life, and treat with respect those who have turned away from their faith.

The fact is, Jesus was accepted by some of the Samaritan people, so why would we think that he cannot reach our loved ones as well?

Anything is possible with God.

Copyright 2010 Janet Cassidy

One Comment
  1. Joe Bigliogo
    December 19, 2010 | Reply

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