By Ricardo Márquez
If I had been born in Morocco, perhaps I would have been Muslim; if I had been born in Tibet, perhaps Buddhist. But I was born in Venezuela, and my family and my culture shared with me the gift of faith, Catholic beliefs and traditions. I did not plan it, nor decided it; it was a gift.
Since I was small, my parents (more my mom than my dad) taught me simple gestures, like how to make the sign of the cross, ask for a blessing, say thank you at mealtime, and pray before going to bed.
They would take me to church on Sundays, and they would go with me to light little candles to the Virgin Mary, something that I greatly enjoyed as a child.
I now see that all of these gestures and actions were tiny seeds of faith that fell on fresh ground, open to receiving it. Today, I see with greater clarity that what parents don’t do in those first years, ripe for registering values and beliefs that guide our future, is difficult to recover.
Children learn by modeling and repeated actions that provide security, generate confidence and form physical, mental and spiritual habits. Without conscious planning and participation by parents, be they married or single, without the support of uncles, grandparents, teachers or catechists, this task is inconceivable.
Catholic schools, parishes, sports groups and youth organizations that my parents took me to and in which I participated were places where those first seeds were cultivated and grew.
At practice, I learned to value the group, the team and the community. Triumphs and defeats, support for a teammate, service to the needy, the joy of celebrations and the initiation of the sacraments — I learned all of these things.
Today, I’m grateful and I value the immensity of the details and hours many dedicated so that those seeds would not dry up or die. Without a doubt, it takes a village, group and community to educate a child in the faith.
When you have received so much, you naturally share more. When there have been many lacks and much emptiness, it’s more difficult to do so. Nobody gives what they do not have. From the abundance of the heart flow service and a sensitivity to your neighbor.
From the intimate experience with Jesus that we are all invited to live – the goal of all of the Church’s work – spring joy, affection, patience, hope and love.
When one vividly experiences God’s acceptance and unconditional love, there is no other alternative than to radiate and proclaim, in words and deeds, what we have lived. Love is expandable; it grows when it flows and is shared.
When we become aware of the crisis in our modeling behavior and family dynamics, when we live in a “fluid” context that dilutes values and basic principles of coexistence and respect, John the Baptist’s call for conversion rings loud and clear: for us to radically transform our conduct and values, to return to the source of the Good News, to hear the simple message that reminds us of what is sacred in our lives, to accept the invitation to treat each other as brothers and sisters destined to live the full life for which we were created … And it all begins in the home, from the earliest years, from the conscious decision by some adults who conceived a life and committed themselves to accompany that life on its journey.
Let’s insistently ask what we want and need to accomplish our mission to express gratitude, cultivate, share and radiate faith. Let’s break down the walls of fear, rage and anxiety as we look to the future.
Lord, take and receive what I am and how I am, and may Your will come to life in me.