Message from Fr Gary - October - November 2019
I’m Your Buckaroo, I Wanna Be Like You: Fr. Gary’s Message
Country singer Rodney Atkins has a song called, “Watching You.” He talks about going through the McDonald’s drive thru and riding around town with his four-year-old. He says he stops quickly to avoid a red light and as he screeched to a stop the little boy’s fries and drink go flying all over the car. The four-year-old yells a four-letter word. Atkins says, "Son, now where did you learn to talk like that?" The boy said, "I've been watching you, dad, ain't that cool? I'm your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.”
I want to be like you. Flattering words, but some of our actions don’t need to be repeated. As parents we all have instances where our kids, when they are young, imitate our behavior. Whether it is trying to shave with soap bubbles, make cookies with play-doh, put on our shoes, or use a toy lawnmower as we push the real thing: they want to be like us. Our example is an important one. They learn so much from what we do, what we say, and how we behave. Are we giving them the best version of ourselves?
Making the lives of our children easier is a goal of every parent. We do what we can to help them advance in life, teaching them lessons along the way. These lessons can be well structured and thought out, or the child can learn, like in the song mentioned, just by watching. What is it we display?
Think about the most recent interactions you have had with your child (or any child). How do we make them feel? Do we listen as they try to engage us, or are we more interested in our cell phone? When they witness our response as we get angry or frustrated what is the message we are giving them? When we talk to a family member with less patience than we just showed the drive-thru attendant- what does that communicate? The messages and lessons we teach our children can be deliberately taught or communicated by our behavior.
Often, parents will call and ask, “Lil Johnny just asked me a question about dinosaurs and the story of creation. I can’t answer it. Can you talk to him?” Absolutely! I would love to foster the interest a child has about faith and help a parent teach a Church interpretation. If a child asks about Christ, His disciples, His parables or the miracles He performs, I ‘m sure we all have the capability to find the right words to provide the correct response. One that leaves the child edified in our faith. What happens when our actions prove differently? Remember the kid in the song? He said, “I’m your Buckaroo, I wanna be like you. I’ve been watching you.”
Think about the lessons they learn about our faith and Church as they watch us. When we skip liturgy to watch a ballgame- what does that say about the importance of Sunday morning worship? How are we instilling a reverence for the leadership of the church if they hear us speak poorly of a priest or bishop? How about when they witness us easily spend $5-$6 dollars on a cup of coffee, but then make sure that we have enough $1 bills for the tray at Church? Our actions speak loudly.
Christ tells us, simply, in John 13:15
"For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”.
Our Lord lived a life of service. He showed compassion for the less fortunate and served whenever He had the opportunity. He sacrificed for us, and how we would do the same for our own children! St. Paul in several letters mentions imitation. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 he writes,
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ,”
“be imitators of God”
Imitation is a wonderful educator. Our kids are watching us. They want to be like us. Let’s display habits that will help them grow in faith. Demonstrate the importance of faith in Christ and commitment to the Church. Let them see you reading the Bible. Let them hear you sing hymns. Let them see you put on an apron and help at the Rescue Mission. Give them the opportunity to witness the dedication you have for a Church organization like Philoptochos. We can teach (everlasting) life lessons as we achieve a life dedicated to Christ and His Church.
That country song ends on a better note. At the end, the singer goes to check on his boy later in the evening. As dad opens the bedroom door, the lyrics say, “He folded his little hands and spoke to God like he was talking to a friend. I said, ‘Son, now where'd you learn to pray like that?’ He said, ‘I've been watching you, dad, ain't that cool? I'm your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.’” Let them see you pray.
In Christ’s Service,
Fr. Gary Kyriacou