Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Savage Wolves

A reflection on today's first reading...

“I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock…so be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.” Acts 20:28-38

St. Paul’s words here could be any parents or teachers words, couldn’t they? Don’t we put our all into our children, hoping that if we train them well, they will be able to resist the savage wolves that most surely will cross their paths in life? How many parents are broken-hearted when their children disregard their parent’s advice and fall in with a wild crowd, or turn their backs on the faith in which they were raised?

I am an excessive worrier. I myself was one of those children who disregarded my parent’s advice and fell in with a wild crowd of savage wolves in my youth and it is only by the grace of God that I was able to turn my life around. But, knowing the struggles I went through in trying to return to a state of grace in my life, I would prefer to keep my own children from ever falling to the wayside. The only way I know of to eliminate my worry is to give it to God. So, I spend a great deal of time in prayer. When people ask me how my husband and I manage to raise such nice children, I always answer that I raise them on my knees-its my version of Paul’s unceasing admonishment with tears.

When my children began their elementary school careers, we found the cost of Catholic Schools to be beyond our reach. As a natural worrier, I fretted that my children would be lost souls without a Catholic education. My mother-in-law gave me some great advice. She said, “Any school can be a good school, as long as you’re involved.” So, I practically lived at the local public school that my children attended. Everyone knew me because I was involved in everything! My mother-in-law was right, the school was fine and my husband and I worked extra hard at home to instill our Catholic faith and values into our childrens lives. But still, even though the school was good, and I was as involved as I possibly could be, I couldn’t be with my children all the time, and there were moments when I had to leave them to fend for themselves in the world of savage wolves.

When Joe was in kindergarten, he took a liking to a little boy from a big family and a broken home. We knew that he didn’t get a lot of supervision and when he did, it was probably from a big sibling who wasn’t always loving or gentle. We’d hear this little guy using curse words as he walked out of the school doors at the end of the day and we’d be quite shocked. But Joe thought that he was the best guy in the world! We’d say, “Joe, Henry uses bad words. Can’t you play with someone else?”

Then one day, as I was standing with Joe before school waiting for the bell to ring, I overheard him tell Henry “Why do you use those bad words? Why don’t you say shucks instead?” I was at once proud and humbled. My little boy had a much better idea than I did! Instead of avoiding his friend, Joe tried to bring him around to the good side! It was then that I realized that if Paul and I continued our admonishments, and continued to put our trust in God, our children could be an influence for good in the world around them instead of being subject to falling into the wild ways of the world.

We will continue to admonish our children with tears, and turn to God with prayer, but if our faith is strong, we will put our trust in God wholeheartedly, knowing that his love is stronger than any savage wolves, and in the end, he will always keep our children close to his heart, and they will continue to bring God’s goodness to the world in which they live.

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