Throughout life we have been presented with a variety of questions. Some were light and easy while others were more difficult and complex. Can you think of a question you had to answer that would change your life forever? Jesus proposed the most important question of all time to his apostles centuries ago, and he sets it before you this day. Each person’s response will guide the course of his or her life both here on earth and for all eternity. What is the question that Jesus asks? It is found in the Gospel of Mark. He asks, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29) This question invokes an intimately personal response. I encourage everyone reading this to reflect upon and write down your answer. Peter responds with a declaration that should be our own, “You are the Christ.” The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”, which means “anointed one”.
What exactly is Jesus anointed to do and what does that mean for individuals and families? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets. This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively. It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet. Thus, Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.(CCC 436)
All baptized individuals are incorporated into the life of Christ and therefore are called to share in his three-fold mission. “Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them” (CCC 783). Parents have a unique responsibility for introducing this mission to their children and providing a culture in the home that fosters a deep realization and execution of this divine calling. Let’s explore each of these divine missions and how families can incorporate them into daily living.
You are Part of the Common Priesthood
A priest serves as a mediator between God and humans and offers sacrifice to God on behalf of others. Parents can fulfill their priestly mission by creating a culture in the home where encounters with Christ occur daily. We experience the presence of Christ in his Word, in prayer, and in the sacraments, most especially the Eucharist. The world our children are exposed to can be hostile towards holiness. Make your home a sanctuary of the sacred, a place of spiritual retreat and refreshment. Become a family rooted in Scripture. Place a Bible in a prominent place, read it together, memorize Bible verses, and have family Bible studies or discussions.
Establish a regular daily prayer routine with the family. Jesus tells us, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). The Church provides a richness of various forms of prayer like the Divine Office, recitation of the Rosary, grace before and after meals, novenas, and chaplets. Finding a rhythm of prayer that works with the many demands of family life may take some time. But persevere! People find time to do what is most important. If we are ever too busy to pray, then we are far too busy. The greatest of saints had the same amount of time in a day as we do. The big question is how we choose to prioritize our time.
Fill your home with items you may find in a church: a small holy water holder at the entrance of your home; religious candles; images of Christ, the Blessed Mother and the saints; and religious/ prayer books. Create a small home altar or designated prayer space in your house. Seeing sacred objects draws us to sacred truths; be generous in your use of these religious items. The faithful also encounter Christ through the sacraments for the grace of God flows abundantly through them.
Frequent reception of the sacrament of reconciliation allows us to encounter the immeasurable mercy of God. Participating in the Eucharistic Sacrifice as a family during Mass on Sundays and feast days is powerful for the soul’s progression in the spiritual life. Through this sacrament we are intimately united with Christ and spiritually nourished. Eucharistic Adoration is an extension of the worship of our Lord.
Plan regular visits or make impromptu visits to an adoration chapel or church to spend time in the presence of Christ. Jesus, the high priest, offered his body on the cross and in the Eucharist. A beautiful yet challenging element of family life is its sacrificial nature in imitation of Jesus. Romans 12:1 says, “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” Work on creating an environment in the home where each member of your family can learn to grow daily in sacrificial love for each other, even when it’s difficult.
You are a Prophet
A prophet is a messenger of the Lord and proclaims God’s truth to his people. There may be this idea that the role of prophet is reserved only for a chosen few, but all baptized persons are anointed as prophets called to proclaim the gospel through word and deed. A child’s first exposure to Gospel happens in the home. Parents exercise their prophetic mission by being the primary teachers of the faith to their children. I worked in education for eleven years and, speaking from my own experience, teaching was incredibly difficult if I did not have knowledge of the subject matter. Participating in faith formation opportunities, religious education classes, and reading spiritual writings are a great way to grow in knowledge of the faith.
Our children learn many things through our own actions. Living an authentic Catholic faith and following the teachings of the Church will be a compelling prophetic witness for your children.
Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery…Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.(CCC 2223)
The prophets of old also went out to the people and shared God’s Word. Provide opportunities for your children to practice actively sharing God’s message. Having them read a Bible story and re-telling it to you is a good introduction to proclaiming God’s Word. Encourage them to reach out and invite others to your home to celebrate feast days, host Bible studies, or prayer events. Evangelizing can be intimidating, but parents can inspire confidence by being an example and offering encouragement and support to their children.
It is also important to teach your children that sharing God’s message is not always popular. Many times prophets, including Jesus, were not well received among the people. They suffered persecution for what was right. Jesus warned his disciples that they would be like “lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3). Fear of persecution and suffering is a great silencer of speaking truth. Do not be afraid for we have been given the Church with a wealth of grace which flows from Christ through her. We are also surrounded by a cloud of heavenly witness who boldly proclaimed God’s truth—Jesus, his Blessed Mother and all the angels and Saints in heaven—whom we can rely on for assistance.
You are Royal
A king is one who holds authority and serves as lord over a certain area or people. In order to understand our kingly mission, we must understand the type of king Jesus is. He is not a dictator or tyrant who lords his power over his people. Christ says in Matthew 20:28 that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Jesus, the Lord and King of all, made himself a servant to all. A family rooted in service to God, its members, and to God’s people is a kingly family.
Practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy is a good way of involving your family in some type of service on a regular basis. Parents, your kingdom is your home. You have full control to create the rules, expectations, and structure of your home life. The environment established in your home matters because it speaks the truth of what you value. As parents you have tremendous power to create an environment at home that says, “Jesus is the King and Lord of this house.” The governing of your home should orient your children towards a life in Christ where they can flourish in the faith and love of God.
Do your best to remove obstacles that are obstructing your child’s view of Christ. Yes, some tough decisions will have to be made about friend groups and what is allowed in the home regarding pop culture and modern society. Great care should be taken in decisions about appropriate TV shows, music, movies, social media and time spent on technology. And yes, your children may at times vehemently disagree with you and even profess their disdain for the rules of your home, but God has placed these precious souls in your care to guard, protect, and lead to Jesus.
The culture in your home needs to be more powerful than the culture outside the home. The “do as I say not as I do” model is not effective. Parents are called to lead by example. Participating in the kingship of Christ involves overcoming the reign of sin in our lives and allowing truth, grace, holiness, and charity to prevail. If you want your children to pray, you pray. If you want them to be gentle, patient, and kind; you must be gentle, patient, and kind. If you want them to love God, you must love God. They must see God’s love in action through you.
The undertaking of rearing your family is an endeavor of the utmost importance. Imagine what the world could become if all Christian families made Jesus the Lord of their homes by participating in his three-fold mission as priest, prophet and king. Who do you say Jesus is? How you answer will shape the culture of your family life. God wants to infuse supernatural life into your home. Suffering and death was not the end of Jesus’ story. He rose from the dead! He is a God of resurrection and new life. Whatever the condition of your current family life, Christ can claim it, resurrect it and breathe new life into it. You must first begin by uttering these words, “You are the Christ.”