Today is the feast of the Presentation, and when contemplating this event, I often marvel at the faith of Mary and Joseph as parents. They were given a great gift from God in the form of a miraculous baby, and the first thing they do is to give him back to the Lord!
Now this might not seem too impressive, considering the events surrounding Christ’s birth, but if you are a parent, you might recognize the great faith involved in such an action. Every parent is given a great gift that we don’t deserve every time we are blessed with a child. An eternal soul is placed in our care and we are graced with that child’s presence in our lives. Our capacity to love is expanded and through the sacrifices we are required to make for that child, we are given a sure means to holiness if we just take it.
But what do we often do in the face of such a gift? We cling our children with a miserly grip. We act like these precious children are “ours” and that we deserve them. Instead of presenting each and every one of them to the Lord, we refuse to let them go, trying to control their destinies and ultimately afraid that God will not take care of them like we will.
This can be most obvious when we discourage religious vocations in our children, either explicitly or implicitly. Most people reading this blog would never outwardly reject a religious vocation for their child, but we can often do things to subconsciously lead our children to a “safe” vocation, i.e. married life with a nice comfortable job.
But there are other ways we cling to our children. Whenever we do not trust in the Lord to take care of them – when we are anxious about their futures, when we hold them back from their God-given dreams because they don’t conform to what we want for them, or when we try to direct their life path – we act as if these children are our own, instead of realizing that they are simply on loan from God.
Let all of us parents look to Mary and Joseph as perfect examples of how we should raise our children – they are not our own, let us present them to the Lord!