“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’ “
Being a single parent can be a difficult and a sometimes thankless task, so it is okay to feel some pride when things go well; however, as pointed out in the today’s Gospel reading we need to be careful not to get too caught up in patting ourselves on the back…in other words, it is important to stay ‘right-sized’.
I have, at times, been praised for taking on the role of single father, and I have to admit that I enjoyed this praise (even if a little embarrassed by it). There are even times when this praise worked in my favor, and I took full advantage of any opportunities it afforded me to pat myself on the back a little too more than I should have.
To help me to stay ‘right-sized’ at times like these I like to keep in mind a routine by the comedian Chris Rock, who talked about men who would proudly boast to anyone who would listen: “I take care of my kids” as if it were a major accomplishment; Chris pointed out that these men had nothing to brag about as taking care of their kids was what they were supposed to be doing in the first place!
This Gospel reminds us that while it may take strength and faith to meet the many challenges of being single parents, that we are only doing what parents for millennia have done: sacrificing in order to take care of our children, just like we are supposed to do, just as God wants us to do; but the Gospel also reminds us that we do not do it alone…we raise our children with the help of God and the support of others.
Therefore while it is fine to feel some sense of accomplishment as single parents, we really have no reason to brag or to build ourselves up too much; nor seek any great praise. Often we receive no reward for our efforts as single parents but that of a job well done, and a deeper relationship with our children, our loved ones and with God…but come to think of it, that IS a great reward, and all for doing what we are supposed to be doing in the first place!
Let us Pray
God help us to have faith to meet the challenges of doing what we are supposed to do: to raise our children with love and compassion, all the while teaching them the power that faith in you can have in our lives. Thank you for the support and love which you give us without condition, and for giving us good people in our lives to help us when the going gets rough. Please help us to grow in our faith by helping other people in their struggles, and our children as they meet their own challenges in life. Thank you for the reward of your love and grace in our lives, and in the life we share with our children.