The last two Sunday Gospel readings have been about sowing seed, and the challenges that prevent the seeds of the Gospel from taking root. While the parables that Jesus told were tailored to the experiences of his first century audience, the parable of the sower and the seed is particularly meaningful for many Catholic parents today.
Despite their best efforts to cultivate ‘good soil’ in their children for the seeds of the Gospel to grow, many Catholic parents have found that the weeds of our culture have grown alongside their children and prevented the Gospel from taking root.
That was the case for a listener who recently called in to The Inner Life®. She shared that she and her husband did everything they could to instill the faith and love of the Lord in their children from a young age, but now her daughters no longer practice their faith.
She said, “As they grew and they left the house, I feel like that soil got contacted with some kind of weeds. And now all these weeds are around them, they choked them, and now my kids don’t come to church. They want nothing to do with the Catholic Church.”
Fr. James Kubicki, a regular Relevant Radio® contributor, acknowledged that this is a common story, saying, “You’ve given us a good example of what’s going on in our world, and how this parable is playing out today in our world. Everywhere I go I run into a very similar story. People say, ‘I did my best, I raised my kids to be faithful Catholics, and now they’ve fallen away from the practice of the faith.’ And what you did is just what the man did in the parable that Jesus told. The man went out and sowed good seed. And that’s what you did, you sowed good seed.”
“But you’re absolutely right, there were weeds that your two daughters encountered,” he told the caller. “The culture that we live in has been called a culture of death, and that’s really true. Because the soil which your children encountered, after you had raised them, this culture had lots of weeds in it sown by the devil. And unfortunately those weeds took root in them.”
There can be a temptation to be angry, frustrated, or despairing when your children reject that which is most important to you. But Fr. Kubicki advised that it is more Christ-like to remain rooted in love and hope.
“You are called to be like Jesus, the Master of the house, who does not say to destroy these people,” he pointed out. “He does not write them off, they are his children.”
“I heard it said once by a priest that you love your daughters very much, but you can’t love them as much as Jesus loves them. Because Jesus is infinite love. Our love is finite, it’s human. So try to keep in mind that you love them, but Jesus loves them even more.”
Even when children are grown, the Lord is still seeking them out, desiring to pour his grace into their lives. Though the seeds of the Gospel may not have taken root during childhood, there is always hope that they may later down the road. And though they don’t have the same authority as when their children were little, parents can still pray that their children will embrace the faith as adults.
“[Jesus is] not going to take away their freedom and force them, nor are you,” Fr. Kubicki said. “They are adult children. But what you can do is pray for them. I don’t think nagging is very helpful, I think just being a quiet witness to the importance of your faith. ”
“Hopefully the time will come where people will say, ‘Where is God?’ or ‘How do I continue in this situation?’ and it’s a challenge for people to go deeper in their faith, or to find their faith again if they’ve lost it. So keep praying, keep being a loving parent, witnessing to the love of Jesus and his patience. That’s doing the best you can right now.”