Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Before I was a parent I used to spend some real energy deliberating things that seem less significant to me these days. Questions like, “Will my coffee be better if I reheat for 40 seconds or 45 seconds?” or “Where should Bess and I go out to eat?” Now, as my wife and I play zone defense to keep our three lovely children out of too much trouble these questions are less impactful. “Where should we eat?” has been replaced by making sure Bess has remembered to eat and is usually asked as I extract my coffee from the microwave (having been microwaved for 2 minutes so that it will stay warm for the 20 minutes it sits forgotten behind the beeping microwave door). As these questions fade in importance, others consume us daily and they are best summarized this way, “How do we best care for our children’s bodies, minds, and hearts?” In particular, we lose sleep over how we best instruct, correct, and love our children so that they may walk as disciples.
Today’s readings offer good food for thought for any parent struggling with this question. In them we find several different approaches to that question. In many ways, that is encouraging to me as a young parent. Not that we should be inconsistent in our parenting, but rather that consistency comes from assessing the needs of the child. This is the precedent set by the Lord.
The Psalmist recognizes that as he wrote, “of the fatherless you are the helper.” For those who are bold and unapologetic there is a firmness as we see in Micah. For those who are proud in their disobedience their will be a humbling (it is no coincidence that humiliation and humility are so similar. Often it is only when I lack humility that I’m susceptible to humiliation). Finally, in the gospel we see the prophecy of how the Lord will not break a bruised reed. To see God’s Fatherly role put on display in three very distinct styles is reassuring.
This doesn’t mean that the Lord is inconsistent, but rather that his consistency is not in what he does, but in his reaction to the needs of the heart. This is comforting for me as a disciple and child of God who knows that well-intentioned as I may be, I still fall and disobey. I still sin. And in that the Lord will correct and instruct me as my heart needs. And in turn, as a father, my pursuit of consistency in parenting need not dictate the same external response every time, but rather model the Father’s intense concern for the needs of our hearts.
If I can get there, maybe I’ll pull my coffee from the microwave a little earlier.
- Spencer Hargadon