Category Archives: Family

The Face of God

God the Father, by Masolino da Panicale (c. 1383 – c. 1447)God the Father, by Masolino da Panicale (c. 1383 – c. 1447)

The other night, I was tucking my 6-year-old son into bed and we were chatting before saying our prayers.  The topics of conversation were dictated by him and varied widely.  He recapped his favorite part of the day, asked me how magnets work, and wondered if I had “bad” dreams when I was little—something he has been struggling with lately.  After a bit, I said, “okay, now it’s time for prayers.  How are you going to talk to God tonight?”  I folded my hands, closed my eyes and waited while he proceeded to thank God for “everything.”  After giving him a blessing, I stood up to leave and said, “Goodnight son!”

As I was walking away he said, “Wait!  I have one more prayer!”  I sighed, turned around, and must admit, was feeling a little impatient as I was already thinking about the next task for the evening.  He closed his eyes, folded his hands tightly and prayed, “Dear God, help me get another teddy bear.  Amen.”  I assured him that God likes all of our prayers and that He loves it when he talks to Him.  Then I stood to leave.  He smiled and then turned thoughtful as he explained, “when I close my eyes and I see God’s face in my mind I see you, Daddy.”  Gulp…my impatience drained away.  I know that it is very common for children to have an image of God in their parents, but talk about big shoes to fill!  So I smiled at my son with a greater awareness that my glance, my touch, my words and my actions all speak to him about who God is.  “Goodnight my little one” I whispered with a kiss.

This got me thinking, by my words and actions do people recognize the face of God or does my life fade into the background of worldliness?

Jesus says, “this is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).  To have a life where our actions, words and beliefs are all in agreement means to live authentically and this is the life that God has destined for us–a life of love.  It is by living authentically that we bring the Gospel to the people we come in contact with and is where we can make the greatest difference.  This is how we show the face of God.  What an honor!  What a blessing!  What a challenge!

Today, as you and I look in the mirror we must ask, “Whose face do I see?”  We must pray for and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in how we live our lives.  Lord, transform our lives that we might be an image—an icon—of You.  May all those who come in contact with us see the face of God.  Amen.


Waffles and New Year’s Resolutions


I have two children, ages 9 and 6.  Just like parents around the world, there are the daily routines of getting them out of bed and ready for school in the morning.  My kids are fairly good about getting out of bed; they stretch, wipe the sleep from their eyes and stagger down the stairs for breakfast, hoping that it will be waffles – their favorite!

When I went to my daughter’s room recently she said, “Daddy!” in surprise as she was not expecting to see me until that evening.  She got up and started her normal morning routine.

“You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep”  Romans 13:11

When I went to her brother’s room, however, the scenario was a little different.  He was sound asleep, and very peaceful.  I hesitated before I quietly walked over and bent over to whisper near his ear, “It’s time to wake up.”  His eyes flickered with recognition and then promptly closed; he was very tired! So, I whispered again, “Son, it’s time to wake up.”  This time he replied groggily, “okay.”  But his eyes still remained closed.  Realizing that I really needed him to be out of bed and at the breakfast table, I said to him, “Should Daddy carry you downstairs?”  His only response was to slowly shake his head.  I picked him up (he felt like a wet noodle) and he laid his head on my shoulder.  It was one of those moments that as a parent I savored and stored up in my memory-banks for when he is 25.  Once I brought him down, I asked him if I should put him in his chair and he slowly opened his eyes and said, “yes.”  Once in place, he yawned and fully initiated the day by asking, “are we having waffles?”

Paul writes to the Romans, “you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep” (Romans 13:11) — a reading we heard this past Advent.  As we begin the New Year, we know that it is a time to reflect on our lives and to make some changes in living out our faith, among other things!  But often times, like my son, we are a little groggy as we “wake up.”  We make heartfelt resolutions, but don’t have the specifics that will truly effect change.  Thankfully God does not simply toss out the words, “it’s time to wake up” and then leave us to fend for ourselves.  Rather, He is right beside us waiting for us to ask for his help.  We can ask Him to carry us, saying, “Lord, I want to wake up, to better follow you.  But I don’t know where to start or how to go about doing it.  Please help me.”  Our Father rejoices with our desire and our prayers!  And what a feast awaits us – the “True Bread” from heaven!  This, I assure you is much better than waffles!

Holiness and the “Aha!” Moments

We continue to celebrate Christmas with two different holy days: the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (celebrated this past weekend), and the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The first brings to mind images of the manger scene with Mary, Joseph and Jesus being quite peaceful, angels singing and shepherds worshiping. The Epiphany has become synonymous with the visit of the “three kings” from Orient are…(though Scripture calls them Magi – more a type of priest from Persia than a king). As quaint as these scenes are, I must confess that my household doesn’t seem to fit the same mold. My wife and I are not gently rocking our children to sleep while angels sing softly in the background. We are more likely scrambling to get the children in pajamas with teeth brushed hoping that more toothpaste ended up on the toothbrush than on the counter. I can’t recall the last time that 3 strangers showed up at our door bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I had a guy knock on my door telling me the “good news” that his company would beat out all other competitors in re-sealing my driveway – but that doesn’t seem to be the same thing that the Holy Family experienced.

Manger sceneThe challenge for all of us is to go beyond the Christmas card pictures that dance in our heads this time of year and discover that the Holy Family’s life wasn’t always so serene. In fact, no sooner did the Magi come bearing gifts than an angel tells Joseph you must leave because an angry and jealous king is coming to kill your child. It took an epiphany – literally an “aha!” moment – to realize that God was truly among them. This certainly was the case with the visit of the Magi, but also in the day-today interactions as a family where holiness abounded. So it is with us. It’s not about looking for those picture-perfect moments (which consequently is exactly what everything in our society says we need to do), but rather in the everyday mundane experiences that we need to realize that God is truly with us. He calls us to holiness by and large not in some far away land, but right here, right now.

Jesus, I thank you that your Holy Family is real, with difficult decisions and challenging moments. Thank you that your family grew in holiness through these interactions. Help us to seek holy lives and holy families in our daily experiences this Christmas season and always. Amen.