I smiled as I watched my daughter and her husband dancing cheek to cheek, enjoying a rare “private” moment. Suddenly their son, Freddy, practically flew from his table to jump into their arms. Their twin daughters, Gemma and Ellie, quickly followed suit and were soon pulling on their parents’ sleeves, begging to be included into this circle of love. Laura and Zach automatically caught the girls into their arms. The original dance of two became a sweeping embrace of five, with smiles, laughter, joy, and giggles on the faces of all.
When the kids were little, we had not one meal without spilled milk. My husband Mike often chuckled, “Well, it’s not dinner until spilled milk!” I recall one evening when the kids were roughing around, and a full glass of milk and dinner plate flew across the room and crashed onto the floor. Shards of glass and pieces of ceramic lay all around and I had just about had it. I was furious (and they knew it) but asked the Holy Spirit for a little composure. Soon the older kids apologized and helped clean while the little ones remained quiet. Peace returned to the table.
I always prayed that each of our children would have at least one good friend. “Please Lord, bring him one friend who will help him to belong, to keep his values, and to follow you.” Each person desires, at a deeply spiritual and psychological level, to have at least one other person declare, “I call you friend.”
The image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, beautifully depicts Jesus’ love and protection for each of His lambs—each of us—even to the point of laying down His life for us. He teaches us how to live as good shepherds in our own homes, with our own children. In this most intimate name of Jesus, we learn how to shepherd, guide, guard, and care for those entrusted to us. It is only by following the example of the Good Shepherd that any one of us can serve as the good mom, the good dad, the good Mimi, the good Papa, the good aunt, or the good uncle. Jesus, the Good Shepherd provides the model for good, Godly parenting!
At my mother’s funeral vigil, a woman approached me to give her respects. Thankfully, I recognized her as a childhood friend from our old neighborhood. As we hugged, she whispered: “Your mother was always so kind to me. She taught me about God, and I will never forget her.” I recalled how this girl would come over to play jacks, but I now realize so much more was occurring within our home. Looking back, my mother, who had an open door policy, must have seen the marks of sadness in this young girl—and reached out with God’s mercy.
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.