Jesus, the model parent

There are so many ways in which I wish I could be more Christ-like. Of course, we all strive for these qualities, as we should, but it never ceases to amaze me how many new and different ways Christ shows me the ways to be better than I am. I realized another facet recently. Patience.

Sure, you’ve heard of this virtue many, many times before, but it was illuminated in a new way to me. As a young parent to two young kids, I find myself struggling to communicate and be effective. Every parent wishes there was some manual, some guidebook, some instructions to parenting. Unfortunately, there is not. Every child is different, every situation is different, and everyone learns as they go. But Christ is an amazing model for parents. After all, we are all His children and the ways in which He teaches us all is incredible.

When things go a little haywire, or even in the day-to-day struggles, I find myself repeating what I say again and again. Perhaps I wasn’t heard, or perhaps I was tuned out, but the same things happen again and again. Other times, the message just simply doesn’t seem to be getting through. It is very tough not to lose your cool when you are forced to repeat yourself. You can take it personally and think that either what you said doesn’t matter to the recipient, or that they simply don’t care what you think. Oh, how Jesus must have felt and does feel about how we don’t listen.

Sure, Jesus extolled us to be patient and to be humble with those we find difficult, but did He have to repeat Himself to those in His charge as explain things again and again? You bet He did. This teaching technique was probably one of the most used in His toolbox. Sometimes Christ would teach some important point, but then explain it again in a different way. Sometimes He would use another story or parable to get the point across. But the ones that struck me as a parent were the ones where He really drove the point home.

There are some important lessons that Christ did not mince words and simply repeated Himself again and more succinctly to make sure the point was understood. Read the Gospel of John chapter 6. As the Eucharist is such a main central point for the faith, Christ did not hide anything in parables, stories, or metaphors. Jesus repeats Himself again and again, but does not lose His cool.

John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.

John 6:54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:55 “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.

John 6:56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

John 6:57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.

Oh, to have the patience of Christ. After these words, commonly known as the Bread of Life Discourse, this teaching was so plain and so difficult to accept, it says that many of His disciples withdrew and did not follow Him anymore because of this.

Even in the act of forgiving, Jesus makes sure that His point is well understood when He is with Peter after the Resurrection.

Jon 21:15-17 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep”. (emphasis mine)

Jesus was explicit in what He wanted Peter to do. Jesus wanted to make sure that nothing was misunderstood.

So as I found myself repeating things over and over, I looked at Christ anew. There were times when those whom He was speaking to simply did not get what He was saying. Other times, there were teachings that they simply did not like and life would be easier to ignore them. Still further, when Jesus wanted to make sure someone knew He was serious, He would employ this same technique to draw special attention to what He was saying.

Perhaps when I and teaching morals, goodness, and love to my children, I should first and foremost show the patience and love that Christ did. And, repeating oneself is not disheartening, it is needed to make sure that the truth is communicated. When someone doesn’t listen and the same rules, knowledge, or wisdom needs to be imparted again, it does not mean that they do not care about your words. It does not mean that they refuse to listen to you because they do not care what you personally have to say. It could very well be that they were not ready for the words at that moment. Maybe they did hear, but were not capable of letting the truth sink in. We are called to be more than a greeting card, or a quote on a cute picture. We are called to be present, bear witness, and love one another. No matter how many times the message, the rule, the truth needs to be communicated, we are called to be patient, be kind, and be loving. How many times have we all needed to hear a truth before actually taking the message to heart?

Whew, I have a lot of work to do. Please pray for me.

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