Baby Steps

Sunday, September 27th 2020 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin

A few years ago, Sherry Weddell of “Forming Intentional Disciples” fame spoke to the priests of the diocese. I questioned her, “Why do our teenagers disappear after receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation? Many of them report having had a wonderful experience in their groups and retreats. Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic states that 85 percent of teenagers leave within seven years after receiving the Confirmation.”

She answered that their parents are not setting a good example of discipleship and commitment to their faith and the Church, which discourages idealistic teenagers.

As Catholic Christians we are called to a high and holy standard — living as Christ’s disciples every day and with every person the Lord places in our path. But we can move towards this goal in “baby steps.”

Jesus demonstrates this comforting truth through the parable in Sunday’s Gospel from Matthew. It is the story of two sons whose father instructs them to go out and work in his vineyard that day. While the second son accepts his father’s request, he does not follow through — he fails to obey the father’s will. The first son tells his father, “no.” At least he is honest! And in the end, he reconsiders and obeys his father.

The first son’s honest and less-than-perfect response may console us. Haven’t we all felt this way at times when God’s will for us seems to be just too hard?

We can be honest with God at these times. He knows our thoughts already, after all. But when we stay engaged in a real relationship with Him, even if it’s just to say, “I don’t think I can, Lord,” He will give us the grace needed to change our minds and do as we are asked.

We can even take a step backward from time to time because our Father is merciful and kind. What matters most is that we continue to take baby steps along the way, along with the grace we need to imitate the actions and attitudes of Christ more closely. This is the beauty of our faith as Catholic Christians.