A dad was asked by a group of school children what scared him the most in life.
His answer was honest and straightforward: You do.
The dad, Brian Doyle, the writer of Grace Notes, Credo and several others:
He remembers that day when faced with a classroom of children and was asked what scared him and this is what he said to them:
“I’m scared about my kids. That scares me most of all. They’ll get hurt, and I can’t save them. Your dad worries about that too, you know, at night, when you’re asleep. He stands by your bed and thinks he’s not a good enough dad for you. Believe me he does this. He’ll never admit it, you know, but he does it. Trust me, I know. We worry you won’t get to be the coolest greatest ever for some reason – a truck hits you, a bad marriage, drugs. Sure we are scared. You think all dads are stern guys. Always on your case about homework, always saying the wrong thing, always lecturing about how the price of independence is responsibility, but you don’t see us by your bed at night, terrified. Nor do your moms. We say we are going to check that the kids are asleep, to turn down the heat, to dim the light, and we do these things, but then we stand there, scared. Some of us cry and some pray and some do both at once. Some guys bend down and tuck their kids in but most of us try to get it together again before we go downstairs and say I think they are asleep, but they are devious animals, those children of yours, and who knows?”
Every good dad and mom too understands that real love is total, demanding, unconditional – and terrifying. But when you really love someone, that someone’s happiness and fulfilment make for your happiness and fulfilment. To love someone with our “whole heart and soul and mind” can empower us to do things that we do not think we can or could do; to love as completely and unconditionally as God loves us is demanding and heart-breaking. But understanding those demands and having faith in the embrace of such God-centred love enables us to sacrifice and take risks for the sake of those we love. We often underestimate what we can accomplish when we act out of love – love that is centred in the needs of another, love that has no ulterior motive except the well-being of the beloved, love that is selfless and unconditional, love that is of God.
Today’s Gospel presents Jesus’ teachings on love: love that puts every talent and ability, every resource and gift we possess at the service of all God’s daughters and sons. To love with our “whole heart and soul and mind” enables us to move beyond our own fears and hurts in order to comfort and support, to forgive, to seek out and welcome back. We often underestimate what we can accomplish when we act out of love — love that is centred in the needs of another, love that has no ulterior motive except the well-being of the beloved, love that is selfless and unconditional, love that is of God. Every word of Jesus’ Gospel comes down to such love: love that mirrors, however imperfectly, God’s complete, total and unconditional love for us. Jesus reveals the mystery of God loving his creation so completely and so selflessly – and all God seeks in return is that such love be shared by his people throughout his creation.
May we seek to follow the greacommandment of the Gospel: to love with the same selfless compassion, care and completeness of God.