What's the right attitude to take toward your children, and what does this have to do with Christian life?
We sometimes think we should do everything to we can to make our children’s life easier. We think we’re doing the right thing by smoothing their way, not asking too much of them, imposing only light discipline. We sometimes worry we’re setting the bar too high.
But in all their youthful enthusiasm, what children seek is a challenge to overcome. The Lord Jesus’ reply to the rich young man remains the benchmark: “Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me’” (Mt 19:21).
What does the Lord say about it?
The Lord doesn’t propose small, reasonable demands within everyone’s reach: He demands everything! He demands more than what’s reasonable. Even the Apostles objected to the Lord’s demands: “When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible'” (Mt 19:25-26). And when Jesus speaks of taking up one’s cross and following Him, he isn’t afraid of frightening the faint-hearted. He makes the highest demand, the only one worthwhile.
It’s the role of Satan to propose the easy path. He does this when he suggests to Christ that He turn stones into bread when He is hungry. What’s lacking today are not propositions for an easy life. We’re constantly force-fed offers guaranteed to make life easy: you need only look around you to see ads for the bargain of the day, interest-free loans, dream vacations, cut-rate car offers, etc.
What demands are made on a Christian?
Despite what people say and the headwinds they face, there’s no lack of young people today full of ideals, in search of high expectations, ready to pay the personal price to follow difficult paths. Perhaps what’s lacking are adults audacious enough to ask as much as the Lord asks, saints who have the to audacity to say with Saint Paul, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 1:11).
It’s not an easy life that so many young people aspire to, but a more demanding one. Not cheap demands, but great and noble ones, those worth giving one’s life for. “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air” (1 Cor 9:25-26).