In my parenting journey, it has become crystal clear to me that children seldom do as we say, and frequently do as we do. Given the warning in today’s Gospel reading, that is a sobering thought for me this morning!

An infant’s natural instinct is to imitate the people around her, and in so doing she learns to walk and to speak, all well and good. As a child grows he continues to imitate adults as he begins to form friendships and navigate the relationships that become a part of his life. Here is where it gets more challenging for those of us on the “being imitated” end of things. The truth is that it is not so much through my words, but more likely through my actions, that my son will learn what it is to love and forgive.

It is through the nature of my dealings with those around me that my son will learn to respect and care for others. It is through my commitment to justice and stewardship that my son will learn to relate to the world he inhabits. So woe to me if I do not faithfully witness to the dignity of each human being and instead teach my son, through my own impatience or irritation, to dismiss or belittle others.

Woe to me if I do not gratefully witness to the saving and forgiving love of God, and instead teach my son, through my actions, to hold onto past hurts. Woe to me if I do not faithfully accept the responsibility that comes with being called a steward of our earth, and instead consume the goods of the earth regardless of how it affects the integrity of our planet . .

There are days when I concede that I should put on the millstone. However, as always, the Gospel has the ability to both challenge and comfort me. I can’t witness to the goodness of God alone, none of us can. But, if we have faith (even just a little), and if we open ourselves up to it, God will grace us with the wisdom and strength we need to be examples of love and hope for our children, and for the world.

What will I do today that will witness to the God of love that I believe in?

—Judy Henry McMullan earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (formerly Weston Jesuit School of Theology). She currently works as a Pastoral Care Minister at Bethany Health Care Center in Framingham, MA