Happily Even After
Family Life and the Good News
by Josh Noem
While I was drying her off after her bath, Lucy asked me about Easter.
She was initially interested in her spring break from school, of course, which takes place Easter week. But then we talked about the upcoming days of Holy Week; how we recall Jesus’ last supper, his suffering and death, and his resurrection.
I’m pretty sure that she knew the story, but being a kindergartener, her general impressions are increasingly deepening into understanding. I can tell she’s connecting the dots and making sense of images she’s collected over the last several years. I got to tell her about Jesus being in the tomb, with the stone rolled in front of it, and that when people came to care for Jesus’ body on Sunday, the stone had been rolled away. He is risen!
It strikes me now that this was evangelization in its simplest form. What a privilege it is to literally share this good news with her—with all of our children. This good news has made a defining difference in my life, and I hope it defines their lives as well.
As parents, we plant the seed of faith in our family life, but cultivating that seed is a constant process. Evangelization of our children does not begin nor end with the telling of the resurrection story—if it did, then the Gospel would only be just a story.
The reality is that the Gospel is a living Word, active in our lives, haunting us, searching us out, calling us to more. Yes, I helped Lucy connect the dots in the resurrection story, but I hope that she is encountering the good news elsewhere in family life as well.
When we attend Sunday Mass every week, for example, our kids are receiving this same good news—God sent his Son, Jesus, to us in love, and that love defines our life. We build our family around it, from how we spend our Sundays, to the canned chili we give to the food pantry, to the people we pray for every night, to the way we forgive one another.
The good news haunted me yesterday when the bedtime routine—bath, pajamas, brushing hair and teeth—turned into a battle of wills. I was not successful in keeping it together. I knew it was going badly when I raised my voice to command a child to stop raising their voice.
After they were on their way to bed, I took about ten minutes and sat in our spare bedroom to simply collect myself. At bottom, I recognized the experience as a failure to love. I could have loved them better—with patience and generosity.
In my evangelizing efforts, I find that often I am the one being evangelized. To communicate love to our children, I have to first be transformed by love. My first step was to ask the children for forgiveness. I hope it was a death of sorts, that I put part of myself behind me, that a stone had been rolled away.
Holy Week is cultivating in me this year the call to proclaim the good news by conforming my life to it.
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