Bear with me. I’m about to brag about my kids. Proud mama alert! Go ahead. Look away and grumble, but there’s no putting this exuberant lioness back in her cage.
And I’m not embarrassed to admit that you will probably be quite underwhelmed by the source of all this maternal delight. It’s neither a virtuoso violin performance nor a prize-winning science project. In fact, none of my kids even plays an instrument, (excluding kazoo) or cares a whole lot about making scientific breakthroughs. (Sadly, there’s no fighting genetics.) I am fully aware the rest of the world will consider the source of my pride as something banal and utterly unexceptional.
Nonetheless, it causes me to light up like a roman candle in a cloudless, dark country sky.
“Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.”
—St. Therese of Lisieux
They are altar boys. They serve together. As brothers. With their matching Clark Kent glasses and home-hewn crew cuts. With reverence and poise, they serve with deferential bows and hands in prayer position. Oh, what a beautiful, pleasing sight to behold!
After I got past the initial worry that they might erupt in fisticuffs in front of the whole church, or drop something really important, I let out a long pent up breath. It was then I was overcome with pure joy at seeing my 9 and 11-year-old sons dutifully assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass… as brothers. My heart simply swelled as I stared at my dynamic duo. No other human being, except my husband, shared in the adoring gaze fixed in their direction. There was literal awe in my penetrating stare. When and HOW did this happen? It seemed only a blip ago these two were using the kneeler as an acrobatic launch pad.
And if I’m honest, there were some self-congratulations in the mix as well. My husband and I had a hand in making this happen. Our boys.
God shared in the moment too.
He has an even greater love for these two boys who we have been graced by His benevolence to care for. He is their perfect father who loves them without condition or barrier. I imagined how happy He was to witness this milestone. As I soaked up all that goodness, something downright revelatory dawned on me.
God looks at me with those same adoring eyes. He treasures my little accomplishments and celebrates and marvels at my existence too.
Whoa… Mind. Blown.
I’m not sure why that thought hadn’t occurred to me before. But, I’m sad to say, it really hadn’t. I was apt to think of God considering me in a more critical light, pointing out all the ways I failed to measure up.
“You really stepped in it this time, daughter.”
“I know you can do a heck of a lot better than that!”
But that’s not a fair lens in which to properly see God. This Sunday’s Gospel reading for the Baptism of our Lord gave us a little glimpse into the fatherly pride God has for His Son.
and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
—Luke 3, 22
But doesn’t he have that same love for the rest of His children? Our priest’s homily detailed a story we could all relate to. He told us about the recent birth of his nephew. His whole family crowded into the hospital room and happily passed around the itty bitty new life, each of them beaming with irrepressible love for the baby. But the little boy’s dad—he was high-fiving everyone and smiling from ear to ear, beyond proud of his son. God views each of us in this same glowing light.
His outpouring of love for each of us allows us to be receptive to His mercy and grace. In seeing ourselves through His eyes, we become better equipped to be the person He created us to be. We are able to love those around us better. Authentic love is downright transformative.
It’s been several months now since my sons started altar serving together. I don’t get choked up anymore seeing them up there next to the priest. I guess I’ve grown a bit blasé. The novelty has pretty much warn off. Something tells me that our Heavenly Father is not as fickle. Once His gaze is happily fixed, there it remains. No matter how hard we may try to stubbornly run from it. We are His beloved children with whom He is well pleased.
“In Him, in Christ Jesus, we have been loved, beloved, desired. There is Someone who has engraved in us a primordial beauty, that no sin, no wrong choice will ever erase completely.”
Lord, grant us your vision. Allow us to see the world through your eyes. That we might enter more deeply into the love of your Most Sacred Heart. Open our eyes to the beauty, truth, and goodness in others and in ourselves. That your vision will inspire us to transform our hearts and our wills to yours!