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?
After our granddaughter’s baptism, one person commented on the beauty of the service. I agreed wholeheartedly, “The baptism was wonderful!” He walked on. In my heart, I exclaimed: “Actually, it was more than a beautiful service. Baptism is everything! It’s the dying and rising in Christ. It's being born of the Spirit! It's becoming an adopted child of God! It’s salvation! What could be more important? Isn’t this the entire point of life—to share in God’s life here and in heaven? This is our faith!” At baptism, each parent has been entrusted to pass on the light of our faith in Jesus Christ.
“Don’t pull all the toys out. Johnny, please keep the toys in the basket.” Three-year-old Johnny looked me straight in the eye with his baby blues. With a mischievous smile, he dropped one toy after another out of the basket. He knew exactly what he was doing. Little Lila smiled from ear to ear, tilting her head in a most affectionate way, all the while pinching her baby sister. Lila knew in her heart she was not being kind.
On a recent flight, I sat next to a very interesting 45-year-old man from California. We chit-chatted for the first few minutes and eventually asked about each other’s family. His eyes widened as I mentioned I have six adult children and ten grandchildren. He responded with ... “My wife and I just don’t know that we want children.” I replied, “All I can say, is having children has been the best decision we ever made. And ... I won’t even get started on the grandchildren.” He smiled politely and then switched the subject to his passion for sports. Reflecting, I wish I would have expressed my deeper thoughts: “Children are a gift from God. Having children expands our souls and our capacity for love. Having children demands sacrifice, but brings great joy. Having children cracks open our hearts. And yes, as with all love, having children leaves us vulnerable to having our hearts broken—but love is always worth it." (And for men and women who long for children and never receive this gift, we know God provides other opportunities for their hearts to deepen in love.)
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.