featured image

Mary Pedersen contemplates the special role parents have as the first teachers of faith for their children.

Our youngest son, Bob, served as a scribe at a local hospital emergency center. While the doctor attends to the patient, the scribe stands in the back of the room, observing every action and recording every word spoken by the doctor, nurse, or patient. Bob valued the work as he learned about medicine through the experience. And after two years of witnessing patient care, Bob could often identify the ailments. But as a scribe, he had no right to speak, to diagnose, to prescribe, or to heal—he was one without authority.

As Jesus begins his ministry, we read of His authority: “Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished, for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes” (Mk 1:21-22). Clearly, Jesus broke into the world not as a scribe, but as THE attending physician, the very Word of God, who spoke with all authority–preaching the kingdom of God. From this very first chapter of Mark, Jesus cuts to the heart of the Scripture, presenting Himself as the healer of God’s people and then supporting His teaching and preaching with healings of body and soul—even casting out unclean spirits.

Christian parents, without an M.D., B.A., M.A., Ph.D., or any other initials, have the authority to teach and preach. The only initials needed are M.O.M. or D.A.D.: “The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2221). According to the Second Vatican Council documents, in the domestic church “parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children” (Lumen gentium, n. 11). M.O.M. and D.A.D. are the ones designated by God as those having authority!

Pope Francis likens preaching of a homily to a mother’s conversation:

It reminds us that the Church is a mother, and that she preaches in the same way that a mother speaks to her child, knowing that the child trusts that what she is teaching is for his or her benefit, for children know that they are loved. Moreover, a good mother can recognize everything that God is bringing about in her children, she listens to their concerns and learns from them. The spirit of love which reigns in a family guides both mother and child in their conversations; therein they teach and learn, experience correction and grow in appreciation of what is good. Something similar happens in a homily. (Evangelii Gaudium 139).


The mother serves as a first preacher in the home the moment she cradles her crying infant or kisses her toddler’s skinned knee. The father preaches as he reads Scripture and makes it come alive for his child. Both mother and father preach through sacred conversation, as the parent names grace—God’s loving, protective, strengthening, and forgiving presence—in any situation.

A parent preaches of the kingdom of God when discussing with a child the importance of including others, when a classmate has been shunned. A parent preaches the importance of inner beauty, when the world shouts of external standards. A parent preaches of God’s unconditional and infinite love when the world insists there is no God.

Click to tweet:
With God-given authority, parents have the power to cast out their child’s doubts and fears, heal hurts and defeats, and bring joy and happiness to their hearts. #catholicmom


Living the faith, listening to the voice of God in prayer, reading and understanding Scripture, and remaining close to God and his or her child, confirms a parent’s authority. With God-given authority, parents have the power to cast out their child’s doubts and fears, heal their child’s hurts and defeats, and bring joy and happiness to their child’s hearts. They have the authority to bring their children to faith!

Scribes were essential to the Jewish religion as they copied, letter by letter, the Torah. Yet they held no authority as they failed to recognize Jesus as fulfilling Moses’ prophecy. Scribes add accuracy and efficiency to an emergency room, but without proper medical education, they lack the authority to act and heal. Parents are but scribes if they dictate unbearable laws or rattle off clichés. However, when a loving parent knows God’s heart, God’s laws, and God’s Word, the only initials required for teaching and preaching are M.O.M. or D.A.D.!


family in church with bishop

Copyright 2022 Mary Pedersen
Image copyright 2015 Holy Cross Family Ministries, all rights reserved.