“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.
In this Sunday’s readings, we hear Moses telling the people that God’s commandments are not “mysterious,” “remote,” “up in the sky” or “across the sea” but “in your hearts.” In today’s world, many believe individuals and institutions impose laws on people. They find commandments too difficult, unrealistic, or unachievable. They believe bending the will to God’s law snatches away choice, limits freedom, and spoils fun.
Today’s readings reveal just the opposite: God designed the commandments for freedom and implanted the law into our minds and hearts. Each person’s conscience guides one toward truth, helps one to live from our better nature, moves one toward love, and leads one to eternal salvation. God gifts us with laws to free us from the ego, if we but listen to the Spirit.
These laws of love are “perfect,” and “refreshing to the soul.” “They are spirit and life.” We know them in our hearts. We know, yet we suppress the still small voice, with self as the sole arbitrator of the law. But we know—in our hearts. We abort and call it choice. But we know it’s a child. We build walls and call them aliens. But we know they are our brothers and sisters. We discriminate and call it policy. But we know all men and women are created in God’s image. We know it in our hearts.
When we move toward love, we know in our heart it’s the right thing. Love means to will the good of the other. The good of whom? Jesus says our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? Our spouse, brother, sister, parent, Christian, Muslim, Jew, African, Caucasian, Asian, rich or poor, etc. We love our neighbor when we show patience, stand for an unpopular cause, befriend a lonely friend or a foreigner, or lift another up in word and action. We know it in our hearts.
As parents/grandparents, we name grace—God’s guiding presence—when we help our children in forming and following their conscience. We encourage our children to listen to Jesus, who lives in their heart. We teach our children God’s commandments and their ability to bring us true happiness. We lead them through a short examination of conscience each night.
Johnny is a wonderful child and his parents continue to help form his conscience by teaching him right from wrong. And Lila has already grown in her ability to work for the good of her sister and others. The commands are not far off but are closer than we are to ourselves. The Spirit works in our conscience through a whisper, a nudge, or an urging to love the person before us, willing his or her good. The law is written into the crevices of our hearts, we have “only to carry it out.” Now, that’s good news.
How have you formed your child’s conscience?
When have you not listened to your conscience and knew in your heart it was wrong?
Photo by Fadi Xd on Unsplash
Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To connect with Mary Pedersen: www.marypedersen.com
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.