Finding freedom to receive love and then give love.
Many parents are concerned about their sons and daughters who have wandered from the faith and appear to have been consumed by the world. The blame for the loss of faith lies, in part, with the Church. We have not helped our children and each other have that life-transforming encounter with the love of God that is the most compelling reason for faithfulness. This is what changes our hearts and their hearts. Adherence to the faith should not be achieved through fear of damnation, but through experiencing the love of God awakening in our hearts. Fr. Steve apologizes on behalf of those in the Church who should have passed on the faith to others and did not.
In response, our parish is attempting to provide opportunities for that encounter through Alpha and The Life in the Spirit Seminars. We also provide opportunities for us to be healed, so that all of us can receive the freedom we need to open our hearts to the love of God. When we receive healing, those connected with us, our relatives, our friends, our kids, notice the difference in us. This frees us from the compulsion to coerce our kids to go to Mass and cling to the faith without an encounter with God, and instead makes the faith intriguing, attractive and life-giving.
The answer, no matter what problem we have, is an encounter with the healing love of God.
When we overreact to something, that is a sign that the Lord wants to heal something in our lives. When dealing with the recalcitrance of our children, what makes a difference is not badgering them to change, or trying to control them, or making inner vows that they must remain in the Church, but instead seeking healing ourselves and loving them, by drawing on the strength of our relationship with the Lord. The more the Lord heals us, the easier our lives become.
God never stops loving us and wooing us back to him. He loves us as a father loves his children, to know his love personally through heartfelt experience. Let us let him take all of our pretenses away and let him make us whole.
In his post-communion comments, Fr. Steve refers to what pope Benedict said about the gospel message:
When understood at a sufficiently deep level, this expresses the entire content of redemption.”
(Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, pp. 175-176)
He encourages us not to hold out, but pursue a healing encounter with the living God.