2014.11.15 - The Domestic Church

Rev. C. Jarrod Lies - Sun, Nov 16

Runtime: 00:14:53

Sermon Transcript

Gospel Mathew 25:14-30
Thirty-third week, in ordinary time.

Jesus told his disciples this parable
"A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one--
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master's money.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
'Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
'Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.'
His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'"

Over the past several weeks I have spoken on a number of occasions about stewardship as a way of life. Stewardship is defined as “a grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God's gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.” Today’s Gospel passage is a key passage on stewardship, where God entrust us with certain talents and he expects a return.

But since my topic of stewardship has happened a couple times, I want to focus the topic of stewardship not on the parish campus but stewardship inside your home. Whether you are a family with children, an empty nester, retired, widowed or on your own, your house is the first place of discipleship. This is why the Church calls the home the Domestic Church.

I think many of us have seen those little Russian nesting dolls where you open it up and there is another little doll inside it. Then you open that one, then the next and the next and the next. Consider the universal Church as the big Russian doll, when you open it up the next one is the Diocese, then you have the parish inside the diocese, finally you have the home. The home is the domestic Church. One of the documents of the Church says,

"The family is defined as a “domestic Church,” that is, in every Christian family the different aspects and functions of the life of the entire Church maybe reflected: mission, Catechesis, witness, and prayer. Indeed in the same way as the Church, the family is a place in which the Gospel is transmitted and from which it extends (General Directory for Cetechesis (GDC), 52).”

The first place where the Gospel is heard is inside the home. If Christ is not spoken inside the home then the child’s faith is handicapped. As a matter of fact one of the documents from Vatican II says,

"The parents role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it (Familiaris Consortio, 36).”

It is not proper to delegate faith formation to a parish as if it can only happen there but does not have to happen in the home. Again I am not referring simply to families with parents and children in the house but our home for all of us single retired, young, or old it doesn’t matter. The home is the place of first contact with Jesus Christ.

Our house needs to be “a house of prayer (Luke 19:46)” in the same way that our parish Church is a house of prayer. Our house is also the first school. We can’t pretend we can send our kids off to grade school or high school if we are not teaching them anything inside the home. What happens in the school is supported in the home. This is why other titles the Church gives the family are, “A school of deeper humanity (Gaudium et Spes, 52)” or “a school of Christin life (GDC, 227).” As matter of fact one of the documents says that every parent should consider themselves “their own child’s catechist (Catechesi Tradendae, 68),” in other words, they are their own child’s religion teacher. So the home is the domestic Church.

The home is the first place where we meet God, and it's a parent’s responsibility to make sure that their children know things like: the sign of the cross, how to use Holy Water (and I am talking about young, young children), how to genuflect, to say prayers at bedtime and when waking up. In the home the children learn that before you grab for food, you thank God for the ability to have food. It is in the home where we enter into a life of prayer. The reality of the home as the domestic Church needs to take root in us very deeply with us.

There is a collaboration that takes place when the family is supported by the parish Church and the parish is reinforced by the family. It is necessary to have religious education on the Church campus, including adult education and sacramental preparation programs. Yet if what happens on the parish campus is not spoken about inside the home then the lessons quickly get lost and faith is weakened. Faith starts in the home and is increased through the parish and is solidified again back in the home. That is why the Catechism says, "The parish Church is a privileged place for Catechesis (CCC, 2226)." Things can happen in the parish Church that is difficult to have happen at home such as catechesis, youth ministry and adult education. These are examples of the collaboration between the domestic Church and the parish Church.

There are four primary actions that need to happen inside the domestic Church. These four actions are four ways in which we learn faith. The first is called "Wordless Whiteness." Whether you’re explicitly teaching your child the faith or not your child IS learning from you. It doesn’t matter if you are actually speaking. The type of life you are living IS the education your child is getting. If your life is characterized by a Christian life, with Christian morals, prayer, the reading of the Gospel then that will wordlessly form your child. To the degree that a Christian life is absent, to that degree your child will be without faith. No matter what, your child, or if you do not have children, the other people in your house WILL learn from you.

I often heard people say, “I am not going to force my child to be a particular religion, if they want to be Catholic, or Methodist or Baptist whenever they get of age I’ll let them chose for themselves.” However, what is actually being taught for the first 14-18 years of their life is, “Faith does not matter,” or, “religious practice is not necessary.” Because the wordless witness of a life without faith, whenever a child comes to 14, 16, 18, or 20 years of age he or she will simply not chose a faith, because the context in which they have been raised is faithless. Wordless witness is one of the first ways.

The Second way is “Family Events.” Family events become key moments to explain the faith to the children or other persons in your home. Sacraments, like a baptism or weddings, are a good opportunity to talk about the meaning and the value of those sacraments. Another type of family event is a liturgical feast, for example, the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. A child may ask, "Why do we have to go to Mass again on December 8th?" That is an excellent moment to say; "Because the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Marry is a key moment of our salvation. The fact that she was preserved sinless made her the right place for God to become man in her womb." From that one question a whole conversation about Jesus Christ both God and man can happen simply by talking about liturgical fast. Another feast is Christmas. If we boiled Christmas down to just a bunch of giving of gifts without talking about the meaning of Christmas then we miss the point of Christmas. Other liturgical feasts are Easter or Pentecost. Any time these come up they are ripe moments for conversation with children or friends in the house about the faith. Again, if you are a single adult or an empty nester you are also able to share faith with your group of friends. When they come over to the house at Christmas don’t just simply play cards but also pray together in honor of the feast or talk about its deeper meaning.

The third way the documents talk about sharing faith, and this is one that is very important, is called “Follow and Repeat.” If you have children that go to Church for religious education, CCD on Wednesday nights, Catholic school, or CCD on Sunday mornings, as a parent follow what they are learning and repeat it back at home. The more that you know what they are learning inside the classroom the more you will be able to talk about it later. A lot of people do this with Sunday homilies. As they are driving home they will have a conversation about the homily. That is following and repeating. We can do the same thing even with adult education. If you are in the adult education class share what you learn with other people. By repeating what was taught is a way to increase other peoples level of faith.

So we have had three so far; Wordless Whiteness, Family Events, and Following and repeating. The last one maybe the most obvious and it is simply “Praying together.” Praying together as a family, not once in a while, but rhythmically and daily: start the day as a family in prayer; end the day in family prayer; begin every meal with family prayer. Again if you’re not a family with children in the house, whoever is in your house can pray with you at your table. Whoever is in your house can end the night with a simple prayer to the Lord. Even if they don’t share your Catholic faith talk about the Lord Jesus Christ so that whenever they leave you pray for their safe travels home.

Stewardship is not just simply something about what happens on a parish campus. The life of stewardship, the active life of a Christian Disciple, starts in our home. Our home is where we can become the domestic Church. It is there where we can met Jesus Christ. It is there where we can proclaim the name of God. Through wordless witness, explaining family events, by following and repeating, and by praying together we are able to lift up one another in the person of Jesus Christ.

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