As I read this opening of Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, I can’t help but cringe just a little.
He is so filled with love, and joy, and exuberance for his brothers and sisters in Christ. He delights in them. I am forced to reflect on my last interpersonal interchange—the last time I looked eye-to-eye with someone. I did not convey delight. I conveyed irritation. And I conveyed this irritation to one of my most precious people, in whom I do truly delight.
In the day-to-day, tedious exchanges of life, it is easy and even natural to show irritation, even to those in whom we delight. I find that too often I save my smiles for the strangers in the check-out line or the drive-through window, and yet I turn to scowl at the bickering voices in the backseat. Often our lives are filled with false flattery for strangers and snarky remarks and short-tempered quips for loved ones.
When I show such duplicity of the soul, I am exhibiting both hypocrisy and a lack of self-control. If I can keep my self-control in check for the stranger, why can I not do the same for the loved one? When I fail to do so, I am no better than the scribes whom Jesus chastises in today’s Gospel.
Our subtle and not so subtle exchanges seem insignificant in the moment, but the cumulative effect is damaging to the relationship. In whom do you delight? Do you show them your delight? Let us try to be especially aware this week of how we treat those in your inner circle and make adjustments if needed. We are gifted with these loved ones; let's find delight in them.
Saint John Chrysostom gives us great insights into this Scripture passage this this homily.
Dr. MaryRuth Hackett is the host of the podcast Parenting Smarts. She loves historical fiction, dark chocolate, watching her children play soccer, a good cup of coffee (decaf please) and the quiet of the early morning. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and has a passion for helping parents understand the way their children grow and develop. She is a contributing author to our children's devotional prayer book, Rise Up and the author of our Blessed Conversations: Leader Guide found here. You can find out more about her here.