As many of you know I spent a week north Chicago with my brother and his family, including his wife, four children and four grandchildren. What a nice family event celebrating and loving each other! On Thursday, August 10, we celebrated the baptism of my nephew’s new little baby girl Elisabeth,in the same family where I baptized twin boys last year; they are sixteen months apart. On the weekend, August 12 and 13, we welcomed cousins from Louisville. One of them, Kenny, is 6 days older than me. We wanted to celebrate our 70th birthday together. Saturday afternoon and evening was the birthday party. Sunday morning we had Mass together and a brunch. Then the visiting cousins headed back to Kentucky.
On one hand, you could say it way a wonderful family reunion, and it was, but it was more. We celebrated the generations faithful Catholics who passed on the faith to their children.
My generation has a clear perception of five generations of faith in our family. I knew my grandparents and parents. My brothers and I were raised in a family where faith made a difference. My brothers married women of faith and passed that faith on to their children. Now their children are baptizing their own children into the faith as well. I have known these five generations by blood and by faith.
The woman in the gospel demonstrated incredible faith, as a Gentile reaching out to a Jewish healer. Faith gave them a connection and her a miracle. St. Paul in the second reading said that faith in Christ can unite Jews and Gentiles. Faith not only unites us to the Lord Jesus but also to each other. Faith give us strength to face challenges. Faith empowers us to hold on when we want to give up. Faith empowers us to love, to give, to forgive, and to hope.
Here’s the challenge. Our family and ancestors for centuries cared enough to live the faith and pass it on to their children. Will we do the same? Parents have a special responsibility to live lives of faith themselves and to speak of faith to their children. Not just mothers, fathers have special role. When fathers practice their faith and pray and worship with their children, it makes a big difference, more than mom can do by herself. The chain of faith has been unbroken for two thousand years. Hopefully we do not mess things up.
I have ministered as a priest for several generation. I buried my parents and grandparents. I married my brothers, I baptized their children and married them. Now I am baptizing the next generation. Because of my age, I may not be around for the marriages of the babies I have recently baptized, but I have great hope. I pray that these families, graced by God, will make sure that the faith of Jesus continues for many generations.