July 23, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
2) Romans 8:26-27
Gospel: Matthew 13:24-33
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
I had a conversation with a group of colleagues who also happened to be parents of young children, and we were sharing stories of various parenting techniques that we observed. A couple of techniques and characteristics stood out as both exemplary and very effective. “The Look” was high on our list.
Having just observed “the Look” used by a young mother of four during Mass, I could describe it well: Whenever one of her brood became disruptive, she simply fixed her eyes on him or her with an expression that could have meant anything from “You know that there will be severe consequences for your behavior when we get home” to “I’ve taught you how to behave appropriately in church, and I’m really disappointed in you right now” to “I know you’re hungry/tired/need to go to the potty, but I’m sure you’re capable of lasting a while longer!”
Sometimes “the Look” was accompanied by a raised eyebrow, a gentle touch on the shoulder or a whispered word, but there was never any question about who was in charge.
Whatever unspoken family “code” had been established, there was an obvious, underlying assumption of parental authority that was calmly communicated, justly applied and gently enforced. It also indicated that Mom was fully aware of each child’s unique limitations and capabilities and was prepared to respond accordingly to each one’s age-appropriate need.
Although she must have had her moments of fatigue and frustration (she was human, after all), there was no drama, no flare of temper, no demonstrated resentment. From my vantage point in the pew behind them, I was duly impressed.
Today’s readings convey these same unmistakable messages of God’s just, yet gentle, treatment of all his children, regardless of our individual capabilities and deficiencies. God’s lenience is also God’s strength. God compensates for our inadequacies in prayer. When the seeds of goodness in our lives are contaminated by sin or evil influences, God doesn’t petulantly overreact or intervene prematurely, but he patiently entrusts us with the time and encouragement that we need to learn from our mistakes — albeit with the assurance of our eventual accountability.
It’s the constant, unwavering “Look” of love that gives us, God’s children, “good ground for hope.”
In what specific way(s) has God dealt leniently with you? How has God’s example of kindness and justice taught you to treat others, especially those who are entrusted to your care?