After speaking with a priest about the losses and struggles I’ve experienced this past year, he inquired gently: “Are you through the dark valley?” I replied, “I think so.” Later, as I reflected on his question, I recognized all the ways God had worked through family, friends, and even chance meetings throughout the year. I realized I was truly blessed and my heart overflowed with thanksgiving!
In the middle of death and violence, the prophet Habakkuk cries out: “How Long, O Lord, How Long?” The prophet, speaking on behalf of God, then responds to the desperate plea of God’s chosen: “Write down the vision; Make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” The vision is for justice, peace, redemption, and salvation. We set our vision on Heaven and the kingdom of Heaven on earth.
For the Feast of Epiphany, we created a centerpiece based on the theme: “Following the Star.” I purchased enough strings of glittering stars for each of the thirty tables. At the end of the evening, I glimpsed over and caught sight of a woman looking over her shoulder and then slipping several strings of stars into her purse. It stunned me. Mind you, it was a small matter: there were plenty of strings; they weren’t expensive; I wasn’t planning on using them soon. If she had only asked, I would have given her any or all to borrow or keep. But from that moment, I never viewed her in the same way—I never saw her as trustworthy.
After running to greet me, three-year-old Johnny heads straight to Mimi’s basket of blocks. Dumping wooden squares and rectangles on the floor, he builds a structure without calculating the number of blocks needed to complete his vision. Three-year-old children are incapable of such calculating, planning, and implementing a project. Yet this Sunday’s Gospel warns the crowds to calculate the cost before following Him. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?”
Our budding philosopher, still just a teenager, claimed with great authority, “Kids crave discipline.” I laughed so hard milk sprayed from my mouth. He, of all our children, seemed the least disciplined: the dog occasionally ate his homework; he was often late for school; I was forever hounding him to complete chores. On second thought, perhaps he knew from experience exactly what he meant—kids crave—need, long for, discipline. In this Sunday’s second reading from the Epistle to the Hebrews, we read of God’s use of discipline, “Endure your trials as ‘discipline’; God treats you as sons. For what ‘son' is there whom his father does not discipline?” No one likes to endure trials nor seeks discipline, so what is the writer talking about?
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.