My remarks on this theme is focused on our youths who need to become parents like Mary and Joseph in the future. The good news is that God so loved the world that he sent his only son Jesus Christ so that all who believe in him may not perish (Jn 3:16).
He actually did so through a human family. This consoling truth of the Christian faith, must make us all grateful. God decided to send Jesus to the world through a family with Joseph and Mary as his parents. God does not do anything arbitrarily, so there must be a definite purpose for involving Joseph and Mary in the life of Jesus.
We must inevitably assume that God desires and blesses the role of parents in the life of their children. In other words, it will please God if we see Joseph and Mary as role models for parenthood and proposed as good examples for parents to follow in the care of their children.
It then follows that we must teach our youths that good parents are made, not born. In order to be a good parent one day, one must be formed through prayer, knowledge of the word of God, information and mentorship. Unfortunately, many youths might not ordinarily enjoy that possibility. So, Churches, families, schools and society must come to the rescue.
Many young people who will become good parents will learn from their own home, their parents and from their family, This, is the ideal, ordinary setting for learning the virtues of parenthood.
If our society is to recover from the present problems of pervasive criminality, youth delinquency and restiveness, good parents are needed to help nurture young people to become good parents themselves. I agree with Mahatma Gandhi who said; “There is no school equal to a decent home, and no teachers equal to honest and virtuous parents”. It is not only a worthwhile venture for good families to form good parents in their children, it is also a life-saving enterprise, for they will reap what they sow.
The Church must also guide young people to understand how the love for Scripture, prayer and obedience to the word of God are so essential to learning the virtues of parenthood. Constant reference needs be made to how obeying God’s word helped Joseph and Mary to excel as parents.
The Church must teach young people that life is sacred and inviolable and that every child is made in the image and likeness of Almighty God. With that, they will understand that nothing must take priority over the care and safety of children. Joseph and Mary were sterling examples of this when they left all they had and fled with the baby Jesus to Egypt in order to protect him from harm (Matt. 2:13-15).
The school is a critical place for young people to learn how to be parents. It is not only a place for acquiring knowledge but also for getting information and formation about life and the larger society. The local community too can help by providing the models of good.
As is often said, “couples bear children but whole villages nurture them”. We have evidence that this was the case during the time of Jesus because when they went to the temple for the feast of the Passover, Jesus’ parents lost track of him because they had naturally assumed that he would be among their relations and acquaintances (Lk 2:43-50).
Finally, young people themselves must seek information about parenting from the right sources and from the right people. The internet is replete with good and bad sources of information.
They must learn to patronize the authentic, positive ones. These are some of the institutions that must teach young people the virtues and the principles of good parenting which I strongly believe are among the best tools for restoration of the world. I pray fervently that the celebration of the Year of St. Joseph reinforces the role and effect of the family among our youths.
(SOURCE: CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE OF NIGERIA )