'Pass That Faith to Future Generations'

Here's the homily of the Most Rev. Mitchell Rozanski, bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., delivered at the afternoon Mass for Grandparents Day on Sunday Sept. 7, 2014, at the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine. (Readings: Ez 33:7-9; Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; Rom 13:8-10; Mt 18:15-20)

We gather on this beautiful sunny afternoon here in the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, and we do so because of the faith that draws us together, that allows us to open our ears and our hearts to listen to the Word of God, to take that Word of God into our lives and to make that Word living and real.

So gathering here today as we honor our grandparents, we realize the wisdom that comes from these readings, the wisdom that speaks to us of knowing, "What are the paths of righteousness. What are the paths that lead us to God? And what are the paths that help us to invite others to walk with us along that path of faith to the Lord Jesus and to His life for us?"

For what each of these readings speak to us about and Jesus' words in today's Gospel talk really about wisdom. They speak of the wisdom of being able to hear the Word of God, to take that Word into one's life and not only that, but to make that Word such a powerful witness that others will be attracted to it.

And so the words we hear in the readings speak to us of what is really our life's vocation as Christians and particularly what grandparents embody for us in their lives. Certainly, with age, we all know, comes wisdom - at least hopefully - and in that wisdom, we find ourselves more and more attracted to the path of the Lord and that path of the Lord helps us as we walk along life's journey to teach others what that wisdom is all about.

And so we have in our readings today thousands of years of wisdom that are unpacked for us, that are given to us, and in that wisdom, we find, in each of our lives, the way in which God calls us closer to Him, and the way that we can share that wisdom, particularly with the younger generations.

So this Grandparents Day certainly reminds us, first of all, of the gift of life that is given and the gift of life that continues and that is nourished by our grandparents, by those men and women who, through their vocation in life and their time on this earth, truly realize the wisdom of God, and how that wisdom has nourished their lives, and how they are called to bring that faith to future generations.

What we really celebrate today are the words of Jesus to His disciples just before He ascended into heaven. "Go," He said, "and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Those are words of commission. Those are words of action.

And so the only way that the faith could be spread from the Apostles to others is by the Apostles preaching, not only with their words, but also with their lives. And so each one of us, through both word and witness of life, are called to preach that mission, to bring the faith to succeeding generations, so that they will have the grace of redemption in their lives, and they will know the power of Jesus at work in them.

Jesus never says to us that spreading the faith would be easy. As a matter of fact, there are many times in the Gospel when Jesus reminds His disciples that they will suffer for what they believe, that they will suffer ridicule and persecution and even, as He predicted, death itself because of proclaiming the faith and so ours is not a timid faith. Ours is a faith that envelops our whole lives. Ours is a faith that demands from us whole-hearted devotion to the Lord Jesus. Teaching a faith like that in today's world is not easy, for there are many distractions. There are many other ways that seem to distract others from the Gospel. What we know is that Jesus promised to His disciples and to each one of us that His way is the way of salvation. His way is the way of life. It is not an illusion. It is not a trick. It is the real thing.

So on Grandparents Day, we celebrate the wisdom that is given to those who've been granted a blessing of years, who, in those years, have learned the importance of the words of the readings that we heard today, the wisdom that comes with the power of correction of others, with the power of teaching others, with the power of leading others, particularly children and grandchildren, in the ways of the faith.

We thank God for the faith that has been given to us, for the ways in which grandparents pass that faith on to future generations through their witness and through their sacrifice. Today we rejoice that the Lord calls each one of us as witnesses to this great faith and as those disciples of this day and age, to pass that faith to future generations so that His Gospel may continue to transform our world and to lead all closer to Him.