What I did not expect is that my daughter would love this time. She can't wait to get on the mattress and lay next to me reading or watching TV. Daddy are we going to do that tonight? Then we play around, I poke her and tickle her.. and sometimes I roll over on her and mash her like I forgot she was there. All the while she's giggling, reading, or often just falling asleep. It's a comforting time. It's an amazing moment of bonding that I will cherish for years to come.
Yesterday my buddy Clyde Joshua came over while I was cleaning out the garage and it reminded me of when Moira was very little. He was walking around asking questions, pointing at this or that, or laughing and running away when he thought I was going to 'get him.' He would follow right in my footsteps and hand me this or that, and mimic the things I was doing. Moira used to do that when she was very small. In fact, she mimicked not just the good, but the bad. Isn't that how kids learn to do the bad anyway? Children remind us of that fact when they pull out those special words in front of grandma or at school. They become their parents. Sometimes I open my mouth and my dad pops right out... That's a big responsibility!
Today's Gospel reminds us of that truth, and gives us a better option. Jesus is always upsetting the cart. He never walks away with people indifferent. Either they love him or hate him, but they always make a choice, they are always challenged. Today they are mad at him, again. He has just equated himself with God! Today we would just kind of laugh if someone did that... "they're crazy!" It was very serious to his contemporaries. Serious enough they had him killed for it right? Then he goes on to speak that truth, that children do what their parents did.
Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
There is that pesky Amen, Amen again. Remember, in the Semitic languages often there are no superlatives. (Good, better, best would be "good" "good good" "good good good", brings a whole new meaning to Holy, Holy, Holy eh?) Amen means that what he is saying is truth. It has that connotation of this has been confirmed, it has been supported, it is upheld as the truth. So to say Amen and Amen.. he's saying this is the truth of the truth! It's as if Jesus is saying "Pay attention to what I am about to say!" Then he goes on to affirm that notion that as the Son he mimics his Father.. he follows in his footsteps. If God raises the dead? So does Christ. If the Father heals the sick? So does the Son. If He frees the captor and forgives sin? Well so will Jesus himself.
That brings an amazing level of depth to that reading from Isaiah in which God lists off a litany of the things he will do to bring his people back to him, back to freedom, back to love. He declares he will feed them, give them drink, protect them from the elements and never forsake them. Regardless of what they ever do he will always remember them. That's a powerful promise to us today as well. God wants us to be in relationship with Him. Jesus himself is offering a personal invitation to each and everyone of us to be in this amazing personal covenant, not just a private one with God alone but in communion with his entire Body, the Church.
That begs the question for those of us who claim to be a part of that Body though... If children mimic their parents, then who can we claim as ours? When I was young my daughter would follow me around, just as Clyde Joshua did yesterday. The words I used? She used. The things I did? She did. The places I went? She went. I was just telling my friends last night that Saturday of last week I had a bad day. You know those days when you wake up and the world seems off kilter? I couldn't get out of this bad funk. I was snappy. I was rude. I was a jerk. I stormed around like some monster seeking to destroy an enchanted forest. My wife and kids took the brunt of it. If anyone had seen me that day, would any of them been convinced I was a Catholic at all? Probably not. I wasn't acting like my Father at all.
How then do we know how to act? We emulate the Son. He healed the sick, he cured the blind, he fed the poor and hungry, he offered forgiveness and compassion to all he met, and above all he proclaimed the Kingdom of God. Are we doing that? Do our actions show others that we are Children of the Most High? Are we reaching out to the poor, the destitute, the widow, and the orphan? Are we welcoming the strangers who come into our midst? Are we building walls or bridges? As we journey through the last remaining days of our desert of Lent, let us take time to examine who we are... to draw closer to God... so that when people look at us, they can say "Now there is a child of God, there is a person who loves others! There is someone I want to be more like."
His servant and yours,
"He must increase, I must decrease."