July 9, 2011
Today, a popular approach to parenting involves near constant monitoring in a well intentioned attempt to avoid the pitfalls and discomforts of life. Disappointment causes unhappiness and helicopter parents want happy children. In order to avert risky and difficult situations, such parents allow only well supervised play, write school papers and avoid true athletic competition. In the bubble of happiness, there are trophies for everyone.
Jesus didn’t grow up in a bubble. As soon as Mary learns about her pregnancy, she heads off on a 100 mile journey in the summer heat to visit her cousin Elizabeth. It’s to Bethlehem at month nine and, only days after childbirth, the dangerous trek to Egypt. All we know about Jesus’ childhood is that his parents travelled, once a year to Jerusalem and, at 12 he joined the entourage. “As they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind….. and Joseph and his mother knew not of it “. They found him “three days later” amidst religious teachers and were “amazed by his wisdom, asking only why did you do this?” To raise such an exceptionally learned child, Mary and Joseph obviously didn’t hover but had to have demanded hard work and excellence.
The next biblical insight to parenting is at the wedding in Cana when Mary asked Jesus to solve a problem by turning water into wine. She pushes him beyond his comfort level, which he’s clearly not happy about. Hey mom, it’s not my time. But Mary pays no heed, ordering the servants to go to Jesus and do whatever he says. Not surprisingly, they do and he does, perhaps even amazing himself with miracle #1.
Gabriel told Mary at the onset that her child would be great, a reigning king for all time. If ever there was reason to protect a kid, that would surely be it. Mary did not succumb. She let her son find his own passion, focusing on helping him reach his potential no matter what the cost. Had she not let him fall down, get lost, take risk, it is doubtful he would have had the strength and courage to get up again and again and again on his way to Calvary.