Acknowledge the young faithful

By | September 16, 2009

The Scriptures for the 25th Sunday call us to reflect on the cost of discipleship. While we long to follow Jesus more closely, we sometimes hesitate when we are asked to give our time, attention, and energy for others.

The first two readings hold two realities in tension: our absolute certitude that God will care for us in the midst of difficulties and the reality of the evil which surrounds us and is sometimes even within us. Disciples are called to confront evil each day.

In the Gospel account we see Jesus journeying to Jerusalem. Since the disciples are still relatively new in their understanding of Jesus’ mission, he begins his teaching on the self-emptying required of those who follow him. Part of the lesson he uses is the child who is to be welcomed in his name.

A child conjures up images of innocence, spontaneity, lack of pretense, and a lack of power. Children are cherished and cared for but often have less “power” in the adult community and so are sometimes considered among the “least” who are to be received and served.

Children are a vital part of the Christian community. As some of our newest members, they are initiated into the faith in stages marked by the reception of the initiation sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist). Even before they receive Holy Communion for the first time, they are participating members of the liturgical assembly on Sunday, joining Jesus and all of us in worshipping the Father. They sing and pray together, listen to the Word of God, offer their lives to the Father, and are sent forth as young disciples.

All parish members have a responsibility to help raise our children in the faith. While parents have a special role, all of us are called to witness by our life of prayer, by our regular participation at Sunday worship, and by our lives of service to others.

Together we grow in our understanding of what it means to worship well. Just as adults serve as ministers for the assembly, children can be trained for some ministries, especially for Masses celebrated during the school day or as part of their religious education classes. They also learn to grow in their understanding of the liturgy as communal prayer — offering worship to the Father with and through Jesus and with the others who are gathered.

As young people serve at Mass, present their petitions in the General Intercessions and serve as cantors and lectors, we can encourage their participation by acknowledging and appreciating their efforts.

 

Sr. Rehrauer is the director of Evangelization and Worship for the Diocese of Green Bay

 

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