Letting the Gospel sink in: Lessons from my 5-year-old
A Reflection for Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Find today’s readings here.
They look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
My 5-year-old used to be the most reliable sleeper of my three children. I could say goodnight and turn out the light, and she would sweetly drift off to sleep. Recently she has taken to the more traditional childhood practice of postponing bedtime at any cost. She asks for water, she asks for audio books and, perhaps most notably, she asks for what she calls “Jesus stories.” This is either a sincere development of her faith or a genius plot to appeal to my interests, but either way it’s working.
Many nights this month I have found myself snuggled next to her, and between sips of water, we talk about, well, Jesus—the miracle of the loaves and fishes or walking on water or the road to Emmaus. On a recent night, we cracked open Tomie dePaola’s book The Good Samaritan and Other Parables and we talked about how Jesus also used stories to help people understand his message.
Too often I hear her but am unwilling to understand: My daughter is asking for connection, for comfort. She wants to learn and listen. She is asking me to do the same.
Today’s Gospel is a good reminder of what happens when we let these stories sink in. And how easy it is to dismiss them. How easy it is to assume we know what God wants of us, without ever stopping to really listen. That we can look for ways to do good, but never really see the person in front of us. How hard our God works to get us to pay attention.
But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
I have been tempted to see my daughter’s requests as something that simply delays her bedtime, or mine, something that keeps me from the work I have to do, the work for which there is never enough time. Too often I hear her but am unwilling to understand: She is asking for connection, for comfort. She wants to learn and listen. She is asking me to do the same.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
Last night we talked about the Last Supper. She said that Jesus was her best friend and she pictured herself sitting beside him at the table. I longed to join them, too. I closed my eyes and listened to her in the dark. We do this in memory of Him.