“As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him.”

Luke 2:33

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Luke 2:22-40

Parenting is probably, I think, one of the most challenging tasks for any adult today. We live in a complex world with many pressures and demands. Many parents constantly live with the pressure of helping their families survive, making enough to feed their children, and offering them a decent education and future. They have the challenge of forming children who change and develop in the different growth stages, which demands their attention emotion and energy. The transition from early childhood to adolescence is not plain sailing for young people. Then there are also social pressures.

Raising children and being a mother and father – or a guardian – is a privileged means to holiness. It seems to me that there are very few things in this life that challenge and change people, and call them to maturity, more than parenting. Becoming a parent reshapes lives and hearts. It jolts us out of an inherent self-preoccupation.

Theologian and mother, Dr Wendy Wright, says that parenting moulds us to be more compassionate as God is compassionate. She says that parenting stretches the heart as the womb stretches in pregnancy. Out of all loves, parenting love pulls your heart out of its self-love. Wright suggests that parenting love reshapes the core of our being to help us love more as God loves. Seeing your own child’s vulnerability and fragility, she says, creates in our hearts the inexpressible tenderness that helps us feel what God feels when God looks upon us. To be a parent, she says, is to be formed in a school of love.

Being a parent means that you naturally open your heart, your plans and your life permanently to someone else: your child/ren. To be a mother or father is to ultimately let go of all your own dreams and aspirations for another. Your own agenda is never your priority.

In that moment in the temple, when Joseph and Mary heard Simeon speak of their child, did they wonder how he would change their lives? Did they, at that moment, recognise the sacrificial love they were called to which would become his destiny and how this would reshape all lives for eternity? Were they jolted, at that moment, to realise that their lives would change forever?

Take some time today to give thanks to God for your own parent/s or guardian/s. If you are a parent, take some time today to give thanks to God for the privilege and challenge of being one. Thank God that your child/ren form/ed you in the school of love.

God,

you are father and mother to us, Thank you for the gift of children who form us in the school of love. We are grateful for the privilege you give us in and through children and parenting. May we too look at the children around us and, like Joseph and Mary, stand wondering.

Amen.

 
Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
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