This past week Laurie and I were at Camp Crucis for the Confetti conference. And for added fun we had our grandson Wyatt with us! Confetti is a multi-age conference for K through 5th grade, and there had to be over a hundred fifty kids there. A fellow priest that I have known since we were boy scouts and I served as the spiritual directors for the week. We taught two sessions each day, one for the younger group and the other for the older ones.
My friend, Fr. Moseley has a lot of gray curly hair, so I introduced him as Fr. Salt, and myself as Fr. Pepper. It was one of those moments of divine inspiration. I knew they would remember our names at least!Our theme was given to us, as it was the same for the whole summer; “Fishers of Men.” It comes from Matthew 4:19 when Jesus said to Simon and his brother Andrew, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
This simple statement was the start of a relationship between Jesus and these two disciples that would involve teaching, feeding, healing, and spreading the Good News of salvation to a world.
Jesus told a parable that we heard today, and we heard the previous one last Sunday, that is about a sower of seeds. This is what the apostles would spend their lives doing, sowing seeds far and wide.
I figure what we, as the clergy team at camp, were doing was sowing seeds, as well. Some was sure to fall on the path, or on the rocky ground, but we had hopes that there was some fertile ground in there, too.
We talked to them about the great love story that is the Bible, and that God is love, and he loves all of us very much. We told them about Jesus was born so that God could walk among us, and then take the punishment for our sins.
And we sang lots of songs with them, too. There is nothing like music to reinforce the lessons of scripture. That’s why we sing hymns from our Hymnal.
There is so much good teaching in our hymns, and many of them were written by the great theologians of the Church.
I wrote a song to teach them, too, about being Fishers of Men, and following Jesus, and it was such a joy singing it with them.
“I will make you fishers of men, if you’ll follow me.”
I also taught them to sing the Lord’s Prayer from the Rejoice Mass, a setting for guitar written in the mid 1960’s. We sang it at the closing mass, and they sounded pretty good, too!
Teaching children about Jesus is one of the most important things we can do as parents. Some parents neglect their duty to raise their children in the knowledge and love of the Lord, and then justify it by telling them they should make up their own minds on what they want to believe. I know people who, because of that, have no beliefs at all, or maybe they have some sort of mash up of beliefs that are closer to Gnosticism than Christianity.
You may know someone who has the modern belief that there are many ways to God, and all good people will go to heaven. There is no real right and wrong way to behave, just be kind to others and be good to yourself, and if you say it’s all about love, then you can do anything you want.
If we believe the teaching of Jesus, we know that none of that is true. These sort of beliefs are inspired by the evil one, and anyone who follows them is likely headed for eternal death. Listen again to the teaching of Jesus we heard today:
Jesus’ disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!”
The children of the evil one are working hard to corrupt the children of the kingdom of God, and they are spreading their lies all over the place. It is up to us as parents, biological and spiritual, to teach our children the truth, which will set them free from the evil one.
With Jesus, there is abundant life, and without him, there is death. And to follow Jesus means to accept all of his teaching and the teaching of his apostles, then to live like children of the kingdom, loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. If you want your children to live, teach them what they need to know.