In my few years in this country, I often get touched by narratives of parents talking about their children. The byline I often hear is, "My kid is a good kid." When a parent talks about their child this way, it reflects the approach to family upbringing. I'm touched the most when I see a grandparent relating with their grandchildren as they just walk together as friends. It is soothing for both children and grandparents. Coming from an extended family myself in Africa, I reminisce how I relied on my grandparents to learn the hard lessons of life.
Although we always disagreed on many issues, they used their better judgment to guide me and to show me all about life and what the future could be. When I look back at some of my interactions with them, I can only praise their sense of judgment, patience and love for me; a child without experience.
Today is the celebration of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph had to present Jesus in the Temple according to tradition as laid down in the Law of Moses. "Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord. Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer sacrifice . . ." Both had to be present to witness the re-birth of their child in the Temple and to offer sacrifice according to the law.
Every child's journey in life begins with the cooperation of mother and father. It does not end with the birth of the child; rather it goes to the next level of complete commitment to nurture this child until the age of maturity and independence. I often find joy when I see parents bringing their child for baptism and the baby is giggling and twisting in fine clothing giving all present smiles beyond any human imagination. The joy of watching this new life is a total testimony of the power of God to allow parents to enjoy parenthood holding a new life in their hands. No wonder the book of Ecclesiastes says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up." (Eccl. 4: 9). From watching parents during baptism, I know that parenthood brings a certain joy that no one else can explain because it allows the self to consider the new life as part and parcel of the union.
Simeon and Anna paid glowing tributes to the child Jesus since they knew that "this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted." What every child need is parental support that infuses self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.
The second reading says, "He himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested." This celebration should assist us to review our family life. Do we play our roles to promote harmonious growth in the family? Do we guide our children in the best way possible to infuse values and principles that make them stand the tests of time?
It is important to celebrate the Presentation of the Lord by rekindling the abundant joys in our families in a way that reinforces our love for children and the responsibilities of parenthood. Leo Tolstoy once said, "All happy families resemble each other, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." When you need some smiles, look at the pictures of your children. Again, when you want some laughter, invite the grandchildren for dinner. Keep smiling!BACK TO LIST