Daily Reflection
November 10th, 2005

Daniel Patrick O'Reilly

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Memorial of St. Leo the Great, pope and doctor of the Church

Wisdom 7:22b–8:1
Psalm 119:89, 90, 91, 130, 135, 175
Luke 17:20-25

Today’s scriptures speak to me of time and generations and God’s truth. The psalmist proclaims, "Your word, O Lord, endures forever and through all generations your truth endures." Jesus warns the disciples that he will return, but first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.

There are all sorts of labels for generations. Generation X, baby busters, the GI generation (also called the greatest generation from the Tom Brokaw book). The labels are gross generalizations and often are not accurate when it comes down to an individual. However, they can still be fun. How would you like to be part of the group called the Jesus rejecting generation? I’m part of the baby boomers, my oldest son is part of generation Y (also called generation why) and my youngest son is part of generation Z (unkindly called the fat generation). We are commanded by scripture to pass God’s word down to the next generation. I want to pass my faith on. I want to be a faithful witness. I think it is natural for one generation to desire to pass good things down to the next. I’ve never heard a father say, 'I sure hope my son’s life is worse than mine.' Every parent wants good things for the next generation. And not just parents. However, sometimes it’s easier to witness to a total stranger than to a younger relative or acquaintance.

I want to model a faithful life. Obviously, this can be challenging at times. I’m a flawed and imperfect human being. I would describe my oldest son as an evangelical atheist. He does not believe in God and views people who do believe as foolish and gullible. And he is not slow to let people know this. Needless to say, as a father, this is very upsetting to me. Not only do I fear for my son’s soul, but I understand what he is missing in life because of his unbelief. I have argued with him until I am blue in the face. Sometimes I worry that, in my arguing, I am driving my son further from Christ. How can I bring him into a relationship with Christ? This question was just eating me up. I want my son to know Christ and I want him to know Him now. Finally, I realized that the best thing I could do was simply pray. This was between God and my son and they had to work it out. I realized that God’s timetable is not my timetable. The old joke is that God acts like he’s got forever. Sometimes when dealing with my son, I think of another relative; my great aunt Frieda. She was a wonderful woman and a model in my life. She was not rich, famous, brilliant or extraordinary at all really. She was a seamstress who lived by herself. And yet she made a huge impression on my life and is in my heart today. Aunt Frieda was stricken with polio at the young age of 13. She was confined to a wheel chair until the day she died. If anyone had a reason to be bitter, to feel despair or to be angry with God, it was my aunt Frieda. And yet I never saw her face without a smile on it. I never heard a complaint come out of her mouth. No matter how difficult, she made it to every family celebration. She did not flaunt her faith and she did not hit me over the head with the Bible. She spoke gently about her faith and her trust in God. She always had a Bible on the lamp stand in the family room. And she made the best sugar cookies I have ever tasted. She’s been gone for quite some time now and I still miss her. It took me a while to recognize what a gift she was. How her quiet witness had impacted my life. She was the model of the faithful believer that I want to be.

Just as my faith rode on the shoulders of my aunt, the faith of my children and the next generation rides on our shoulders. In ways, this can sound like a heavy burden, but it’s really a gift. God gives us the opportunity to pass our faith and His Truth on. My prayer would be that we would recognize these opportunities when they arise and that we would have the wisdom and courage to use them to God’s glory.

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