The word of the LORD came to me thus: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. “Ah, Lord GOD!” I said, “I know not how to speak; I am too young.” But the LORD answered me, Say not, “I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:4-8).
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 2:9).
God’s words to Jeremiah are the same words he speaks to each one of us: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I dedicated you” (Jeremiah 1:5). God knows us-our strengths and weaknesses, dispositions, constitution, and preferences-better than we know ourselves. He even knows what we will freely choose to do with our lives. God has a plan for us, yet in every moment we are free to go our own way or to embrace his grace and the marvelous works he has prepared for us to do.
In Jeremiah’s case, God’s plan was that he be a prophet. Jeremiah had the freedom to try to ignore this call and refuse God’s grace, which seemed to be his initial response. What inclined him to accept? Though Scripture doesn’t explain, we can imagine that Jeremiah’s formation by his parents, grandparents, and other family members played a part in his accepting the challenges of a prophet’s life.
Like Jeremiah, you, as a Catholic man, are called to accept God’s call, and an important part of that call is to proclaim his gospel to the next generation, so that they too will be open to God’s call. If you are a father, grandfather, uncle, brother, or educator, you have a special role to play. God wants you to honor and respect the young people in your life. He wants you to acknowledge their gifts and reverence the truth that they are made in his image. He knows that the more you do, the more seriously they will think about what God wants them to do with their lives.
Are you a father? Think about how your home life can reflect and support God’s plan for your family. The Christian home is called a “mini-church,” and parents are consecrated to bring the good news of salvation to their children. Do you talk to your kids about the Lord and tell them stories about Jesus? Do you look for clues as to what God is doing in their hearts? Do you pray for and with your children frequently? Do your children see you praying on a regular basis as well? As you take a few small steps to make the Lord more real to your children, you will see the Lord produce great fruit from it.
Are you a grandfather or an uncle? Children are often quite subtle, but God can give you eyes to see. He wants to do great things through the children in your families. Look for opportunities for sharing the difference the Lord has made in your life, or how he worked in and through you in a difficult situation. Look for opportunities to pray for and with the young people. Take them to church with you, or to other spiritual activities. You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities will arise to share your faith, if you are open to them.
No matter what your current state in life is, God’s “grace is sufficient.” He will give you all you need to foster an atmosphere of spiritual openness with the children in your families. And you will be an instrument in enabling them to hear and respond to God’s call whenever it comes.
“Lord, it is so easy to feel inadequate when it comes to sharing your word with the young people in my life. But I believe that your grace can empower me to persevere and succeed in this important mission.”
Maurice Blumberg is Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men Center.
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- 1. In what way can you relate to Jeremiah’s initial reluctance to say yes to God’s call, especially when you think of your own inadequacies in proclaiming the Gospel to the next generation in your family? Why is it important to remember that God’s “grace is sufficient for you”?
- 2. What has been your experience in sharing your faith with your children, grandchildren, or other young family members? What has been the fruit of it?
- 3. If you are a father, with children at home, what steps can you take to make your home more of a “mini-church”?
- 4. If you are a grandfather (or an uncle), what steps can you take to be a Christian witness to your grandchildren (or other young family members)?
If you are in a men’s group, take some time at the end of your meeting to pray for one another for the grace, strength, and wisdom to be used by the Lord in proclaiming the Gospel to your children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and other young people.