April 21 – Good Shepherd Sunday

When I was in eighth grade, we had that classic project where we would be given a baby doll to take home with us for a weekend to experience what it was like to be a parent. The baby would cry randomly, especially in the middle of the night, and we had to make sure we were there to touch a special wristband to its back to stop the crying. I was a very dedicated “parent,” taking the baby with me to Mass, Confession, and a friend’s house. The only hiccup was that my sister broke off the baby’s leg. Somehow that did not cause the baby to cry, and we were able to reattach it without any problem. I even got 100% on the project. But this project missed the point.

If we made a list of all the sacrifices that parents have to make for their children—getting up in the middle of the night to soothe a crying baby, changing diapers, giving up their free time—I don’t think many people would be eager to do that. But a child is not simply a list of sacrifices. Fathers and mothers say yes to these because they love their children.

This is why St. John describes the love of God as the love of a loving Father for His children. But living for others, laying down our lives for others, making sacrifices for others, is hard. We only find the strength to live this way through love, both the love we received from Christ and the love we have for others.

There is one sacrifice which parents are called to make which often gets ignored, and that is passing on the faith. The Church tells us that parents are called to be the first teachers of the faith to their children. This is a great responsibility, and it might seem daunting at first, but what it boils down to is that parents must first know the love of the Good Shepherd so that they can bring their children into that love.

Here at Our Lady of Mercy, our faith formation model is different from what you might find at most other parishes in that it is based around the family. This means that when the children come for formation, the parents also receive formation at the same time. But the goal is that the formation doesn’t stay in that classroom. The goal is that both parents and children can encounter the love of the Good Shepherd here, and take that love home with them. On the weekend of April 20th and April 21st, we will have an open house so that you can learn more about Family Faith Formation here at Our Lady of Mercy. And thankfully, there will not be any baby dolls involved.

Father Frank