Over the next while in the Parish we will witness the great work of our parents as they guide their children and young people into the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Those with children and young people will also be guiding their offspring through revision and the emotional examination time, for SATS, GCSE’s, A Levels and Degrees. They have learnt the art of gentle persuasion and sometimes even bribery to get the best for their children. They are taking on the role as Shepherds to their families.
We, sometimes, have a very romantic view of the work of a Shepherd but like the job of a parent it is a very challenging role. Parents who are trying to pass on their faith to their children have a very difficult job as our Secular world seems to have put no value on a belief in God or a life lived with basic Christian values of justice, equality, honesty and a burning desire to reach out to the poor. Catholic parents, priests and teachers are sometimes seen as an anachronism, an outdated and rather useless group looking to the past.
But, I believe, that we must really persevere at our role as Shepherds. The norms of our Secular society cannot give our children the direction, the care and comfort, or the tools to cope with our modern world. The very belief in a higher being, an eternal life, is a way and means to meditate and understand the complexities of our modern life. As Shepherds, Parents, Teachers and Priests are vital to health of our society. But we need to know what we are up against; we need to educate ourselves about the dangers.
In the Gospel Jesus speaks about the Shepherd as a “gatekeeper” and once again this role of a shepherd is a very vital one. We are to put ourselves as guardians of our children’s lives and protectors of their morals. We must guard them from the worst parts of the Internet, and from those pedalling drugs and pornography. Being a “Gatekeeper” means we need to know what we are protecting them from. “DIFFICULT”!