Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
We’ve been contemplating this concept of the mystery of parenthood for years – the idea of living parenthood with a heightened sacramental sense. We’ve attempted to be outward, visible signs to our children of the invisible God – signs of His love, of His mercy, of His justice, of His protection, of His provision, of His patience, of His compassion, of His order. In attempting to live this out, God has, in ever-deepening ways, awakened our faith.
While it hasn’t been easy and while we’ve certainly failed many times to be accurate reflections of this God who, through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, asks us to strive to be a sign of Him, we do not believe that we have yet experienced what we are about to experience today. We haven’t, until today, been asked to be signs of His vulnerability – the vulnerability that comes from sending one’s son into the world. Today, maybe for the first time ever, God’s vulnerability becomes tangible for us. Yet, it makes sense. That’s exactly what God did when He sent the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, when He sent Jesus, when He sent His Only Begotten Son into this world.
He wants us to share in this sending out. God sent His only Son. Jesus sent out His disciples. As outward signs, as parents, we are called to send out our sons and daughters as well. However, if we’re honest with ourselves, this is one of those invisible realities that we’d like to pass on. As parents, we have felt comfortable being in control. We set the limits. We establish the order. We show love. We administer justice. We grant mercy. We have the power. We are in charge. In other words, in a sacramental sense, we, in the mystery of our parenthood, share in God’s power.
Today, we experience something that runs counter to this. Something that makes us uncomfortable. God makes Himself vulnerable. In sending His Son into the world, He placed Himself into our hands. He sent His Son into a world that would provide opportunities of great joy. At the same time, that same world would inflict great pain and suffering. Certainly, God remained and still remains in control. Yet, He allowed the One whom He sent, He entrusted the one He sent, into the hands of others – Mary His Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, the Pharisees, and yes, even, Pilate. How amazing! The all-Powerful, all-Knowing God entrusted His only Son to His creatures. He allows Himself to become vulnerable.
Today, as parents, we share in this invisible reality of God in a tangible way. Today, our son leaves for college. Today, we send our son out into that same world into which God sent His Son – a world that will provide great joy and unfortunately cause great sorrow. We send him out as a sheep amidst wolves. It’s uncomfortable. We are not going to be there to ask him if he’s done his homework. We will not be there to hug him just because we love him. We will not be there to tell him to turn the TV off and go to sleep. We will be vulnerable. We will be visible signs of this invisible reality of God’s vulnerability.
Eighteen years have come and gone so quickly. The same God who gave us this Jesus also gave us the gift of this life, the gift of our son. That same God asks us today to share in this experience – to share in this vulnerability. Today, He asks us to trust Him, to have faith. He asks us to entrust our son back into His loving arms with a deeper faith. God has been there through it all – through the illnesses, through the birthday parties, through the emergency room visits, through the baseball games. He asks us today to have faith that He will continue to be there in our absence. He lives in our son. He will lead him through whatever this world has for him. Oh, we’ll still be around. We’ll still do our best to be visible signs of God’s love when he comes home to visit or when we visit him, but, from today forward, it will be forever different. He has grown up. This world needs him. So, we send him into this world to accomplish whatever You have for him to accomplish. We are excited to see what You will do through Him. So, today, we entrust him to you, Lord. Today, we accept the opportunity, the call, to share in Your vulnerability, to live out the mystery of our parenthood. Today, we trust you more than ever. Today, we have faith. We believe. Please help our unbelief!