Perhaps; but, in living faith, there is hope.
Full disclosure: Yes, that is intentionally a “Made Ya Look” headline. It is also precisely how many parents feel about their children in today’s world.
Many a loving, caring parent does fear, with good reason, that a child will go to hell unless there is a miracle in that child’s life; but it would be a mistake, even in despair, to say it is absolutely certain that one’s child is lost, to say at some point in the future, without a doubt, the child will go to hell. It would be a mistake to say there is nothing God or anyone else can do. Jesus’s Good News provides not only some comfort, but a spiritual blueprint for parents to present their children to Jesus and ask for a miracle.
The Gospels proclaim a message for every Mom and Dad. The message is not that a child will or will not go to hell. The message is a message of possibility, a possibility of hope for a child.
Many times Jesus heals someone or raises them from the dead, not because of the faith of the sick person or the faith of the person who has died, but because of the faith of a friend or parent. The ninth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel recounts several healings and includes the story of Jesus raising an official’s daughter from the dead. For several of these healings, Matthew’s tells us that Jesus does them because of the faith of the sick person, but also in some cases because of the faith of those who present a person to Jesus, the faith of those who ask Jesus for a miracle.
From Matthew’s Gospel:
A Man With Palsy
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said to the sick man sick of palsy: Son, be of good cheer; your sins be forgiven you. . . . . then he said to the sick man, Arise, take up your bed, and go unto your house. And he arose, and departed to his house. (Mt 9: 2-7)
A Woman With Issue Of Blood
And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. (Mt 9:20-22)
Two Blind Men
And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land. And when Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, You Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come to the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus said to them, Do you believe that I am able to do this? They said to him, Yes, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, according to your faith be it to you. And their eyes were opened . . . (Mt 9: 23-30)
When some of these persons in the Gospels are healed, among other things, it is because of the faith of those who present the sick person to Jesus.
The Official’s Dead Daughter
The official, the “synagogue ruler” whose daughter has died, exhibits a similar faith:
While he spoke these things to them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay your hand on her, and she shall live. (Mt 9: 18)
Jesus goes to the man’s house and raises the girl who was dead.
The official believes that Jesus has the power to raise his daughter from the dead, a power that only God has, or he would not have approached Him. Also, the official acts on his faith, he finds Jesus, comes to Him, and beseeches Him to raise his daughter from the dead. This was an outrageous, unbelievable request for a Jew to make, especially to make publicly, to ask a living, walking, talking human being. But the official was undeterred, spurred on by his faith.
Similarly, Jesus heals a centurion’s servant, upon the request of the Centurion, because of the Centurion’s faith in Jesus. (Mt 8: 5-13)
There is hope in faith; but how does a Mom or Dad have this faith that Jesus speaks of? How does a parent “do” this faith, and then ask Jesus to save their child? “Do faith” is the correct description because faith, which is initially a gift from God – “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8) – is a theological virtue, a habit of action. Once God has given the gift it is not like a coin that one puts in a bank and forgets about or ignores. Someone gifted with faith has to choose freely to go ahead and act in accord with the gift, to “do faith.” Simply saying “I believe” is not all there is to this doing:
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save them? (James 2:14).
The Catechism Of The Catholic Church tells us that “Faith is a human act” (Paragraph 154) and that “Faith is a personal act,” (Paragraph 166). It goes to on to say:
By faith “man freely commits his entire self to God” [citing Dei Verbum 5]. For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ Living faith ‘work(s) through charity’ [citing Rom 1:17, Gal 5:6]. (Catechism, paragraph 1814).
For a parent of a child (or anyone else) “doing” faith means living what one says one believes. When the Creed is recited, if you say you believe in “God the Father the Almighty”, live each day in this faith, “do faith” by acting on what you have said. Acting like God is your Father is to treat Him as your Father, to trust Him, to act so as to please Him, to obey Him, to treat everyone else in your life as His child made by Him, and to talk with Him as the Abba, the Daddy, Jesus taught us about. Living the faith in this Almighty Father is to act like you know He has power and all power (and you do not); and that He can do what you ask. He can do a miracle for your child.
If you say you believe in “life everlasting,” act like you do. In living this faith, act like every action of yours here and now affects how you will live that life everlasting. If you profess a belief that Jesus Christ “will come again to judge the living and the dead,” in your own personal life, in all your actions, live this faith like you truly believe that you will be judged based on what you have done.
To “do” faith, similar conclusions follow from each thing, including each mystery, that one believes. If you want a miracle for your child, and you believe in God, act like it.
The story of St. Monica is the story of a mother who not only presented her child, Augustine, to God for a miracle, but also the story of a mother who lived her faith for many years in the face of a pagan son, and a pagan husband who was violent and an adulterer. Monica’s husband criticized her for living a life of charity, almsgiving and piety. She also had to suffer at the hands of her pagan mother-in-law.
For seventeen years, while praying daily for Augustine, Monica lived the life of her faith. Once a bishop happened upon her weeping in church and he told her “the child of these tears will not perish.” Before Monica died, Augustine gave up the Manichean heresy he had previously accepted; and he gave up his licentious and dissolute life. He was baptized and, as they say, the rest is history, and, in this case, it is the history of a saint.
Monica’s living of her faith, her prayers, and her example also changed her pagan husband and his mother. They were both baptized before they died.
Comforting Words of Jesus
Jesus will not physically appear to each parent who presents a child to Him; but His actual words in Holy Scripture give a hint of what He would say to the Mother or Father whose faith He recognizes (what follows is not a quote from Scripture):
I have seen your faith. We made this child you are praying for in Our likeness, this child you procreated with Us. Like all of Our creation, We this child was made good. I have told you the parable of the prodigal son and how his Daddy acted is how I will act toward your child, Our child. I have told you I am the Good Shepherd, and I will seek after this lost sheep. I will do this with for your child, with all My power, with all My strength, and with all My love. My grace, My life will be showered on this child, and this child will have every chance to return to Me.
Live your faith, and then in hope, you can ask Jesus for a miracle.