As followers of Jesus we are always called to give good example and avoid scandal---giving bad example. Jesus is very forceful in expressing the chastisement for those who put stumbling blocks before the little ones.  It is the proverbial “Mill-stone award!” Imagine a huge cement cylindrical block weighing hundreds of pounds. Then imagine being hoarded onto a ship. Then once sailing into the depths of the sea, having this huge millstone thrust around your neck. Then the worse possible reality, to be pushed off the ship and sink into the depths of the sea. No other possibility than to sink to the depths, drown and no hope. Therefore, obviously of all the awards possible to receive, the “Mill-stone award” should be the least desired of all! Jesus uses this strong language to force us to think about the serious character of damaging the innocent children that He loves so much!

This being said, let us examine our lives and with the utmost honesty come to terms with some actions that we may have carried out in the past that could have damaged the lives of the little ones.  Furthermore, let us pray and offer up acts of penance to repair for the damage and starting right now do all we possibly can to always be a bright light of good example before the eyes of the little ones!  Jesus said that He is the Light of the world; He also said that we are the light of the world. May our bright light of good example shine before all and give glory to our Father who is in heaven!

1.    The famous “white lie” with respect to the phone callers that annoy us and we would like to avoid. All too often parents will tell their children to lie by saying: “Tell him I am not at home!” True, this is not the worst case scenario in the world. Still, it is a lie. Jesus reminds us that he who is faithful in the small things of life will also be faithful in the larger things!

2.     MISSING MASS. Parents may not know the enormous scandal—terrible bad example—is sown by flippantly skipping Mass for the most insignificant reasons, often social reasons in which friends are put above God. This is the essence of idolatry--- putting persons, places or things above God! By routinely skipping Mass, parents are teaching their children that Mass is relatively unimportant, insignificant and other activities have priority over the Mass. Such parents should show no surprise when their children turn teen-agers and revolt against the idea of going to Mass. The weed was sown in their hearts as children and the whirlwind has been reaped as teens! One step more!  With raging hormones and peer-pressure and a militant modern secularism and atheism, how will such teens remain unscathed by this anti-God modern environment?

3.    DIRTY JOKES/VUGAR LANGUAGE.   Jesus says that we will be judged  by the words we utter on the Day of Judgment. We should be slow to speak and quick to listen. Also Jesus warns us: “Let your language be “yes, yes” or “no, no”; the rest comes from the enemy.  Our words stick!  St. John Bosco sadly reminisces over the fact that as a boy an elderly man told an ugly story. Years later, and as a priest, St. John Bosco still could not expunge the moral dirt from his memory!  Actions have consequences!

4.    T.V PROGRAMS. All too common today is the nonchalant permission of the parents to allow their kids to watch whatever they want on TV. Or it might even be that parents go to movies with their teens and sit through movies that have impure scenes. On the part of parents this is scandal, allowing their kids to be looking at what is sinful.  The acid test must always be the following: would Jesus, Mary and Joseph approve of watching this? Would the Holy Family approve of sitting down next to you and viewing this or that program. To be a follower of Christ we must be counter-cultural and be willing to swim against the current.

5.    LYING ABOUT AGE TO GET A LOWER-PRICED TICKET! Maybe you have gone to Disneyland or  Magic Mountain, the Zoo, or some amusement Park or some other place with a price range depending on the age of the child. Having a child of small-stature, you lied in front of him to get a lower price. This is a scandal too!  When the child is older and with his own “little children” he will surely call to mind this “swift-one” that Mom and Dad pulled to save a couple of extra bucks! However, how much more time in Purgatory!

6.    IMMODEST DRESS.  Perhaps there are mothers who have skimpy and immodest dresses that their children observe attentively, thereby paving the way for their daughters to dress in the same way! Moms really are saying to their daughters: “Fine, this is modern America; just go with the flow and follow the mode!” This sinful attitude could jeopardize the salvation of both mother and daughter. Think and pray twice!

7.    GETTING DRUNK AT THANKSGIVING OR CHRISTMAS PARTIES. How common it is in the Holiday Season to go overboard with drink, become even violent, or worse yet, to drink and drive with the children present. This too is a scandal before the eyes of the children. Even more, such a sinful and dangerous attitude could end up by killing innocent drivers. Never forget: drinking and driving do not mix!

8.     BAD MOUTH THE CHURCH.   Even though the church is going through tough times—as it always has in the past 2000 years—to criticize the Pope, Bishops, priests,  is not going to edify the children, but to eventually lead them to turn their backs on the church.  Why not pray and fast for the church and try to become a saint yourself? May our conversation serve to edify and lift up rather than to tear down and destroy!

9.    BAD POSTERS.   The family is called to be the “Domestic Church”.  That is to say, the whole environment of the family should reflect the presence of Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph. Suggestive calendars, almanacs, pin-ups in the home is indeed a scandal to the children who pass in front of them day and night; these implant bad and impure images in their little minds. Also, it is scandalous to have bad magazines floating around in the context of the family! Trash should be thrown in the dumpster. Moral trash should be ripped up and burnt!

10. ALLOW SON/DAUGHTER TO LIVE WITH BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND.  This action on the part of parents indeed is highly scandalous and deserves the “Mill-stone award”.  Why, you might ask? The reason should be more than obvious! Having younger siblings exposed to an older brother or sister that is openly in the state of fornication, is the heights of bad example to the little ones.  Little surprise that when these little ones get a little older they choose to do the same thing that they saw their older brother or sister doing before their very eyes!  If older siblings have made the wrong decision to cohabit and thereby reject God from their lives, then let them do it outside the context of the family and not tarnish the innocence of their younger siblings!