If your kids sometimes expect to be rewarded for doing what they’re supposed to do, today’s readings are for them. Make sure they pay attention at today’s mass, or bring their attention to these readings afterwards—maybe after dinner, when they ask for something in return for helping with the dishes.
The first reading is a good start—to remind all of us that although we are here at God’s pleasure, he takes care of his creatures. Isaiah quotes our creator as saying, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” But this passage concludes with this: “The Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.” Yes, we have a benevolent Father, but our relationship to him is clear. He put us here to accomplish something.
Paul took his servant status seriously, as he tells the Galatians in today’s second reading: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” His point is that the will of man, as expressed through man’s laws, mean nothing in the pursuit of God’s kingdom. Paul enjoyed freedom from man’s laws while committing himself as a servant in spreading the word of God’s law. Paul rejoices in this duty because he knows this is God’s will for him, and that certitude is its own reward. How often do people in today’s modern age search desperately for their place in the world, wondering at their purpose?
In today’s Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus gives his disciples detailed instructions on how to travel about, preaching God’s word—right down to the technique for shaking the dust of non-accepting towns off their feet. His disciples rejoiced in seeing the results of doing the Lord’s will. “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” But Jesus seems to warn them against getting too cocky: “Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but because your names are written in heaven.” In other words, they have power because God hired them to do his bidding, putting their names on his work roster and equipping them with the necessary tools and instructions. They have a clear mandate, and their joy should be the certitude of fulfilling God’s purpose for them.
If your kids were in church to hear today’s readings, rejoice. You’re fulfilling your purpose in life. Now share that reward with your kids as you discuss the message of those readings with them while they dry the dishes.