by Fr Richard Heilman | October 29, 2017 8:05 PM
For whatever reason, I believe I was my mom’s favorite child (my 5 siblings would debate me on that 😉 ). This was in spite of my occasional temper tantrums.
I’ll never forget one of those temper tantrums when I was young boy downstairs in the laundry room with my mom while she was emptying the dryer and folding clothes. After I spouted off, my mom stood there and said, “Listen, Ricky, I clean your clothes and cook your meals and … (the list went on).” After she was done, I pointed at her and said, “You have to do that!” I can’t remember if she tanned my bottom in that moment, but my best recollection was the even worse outcome … the words us kids never wanted to hear, “Wait until your father gets home.” *Gulp*
I don’t want to paint a picture that my parents were child abusers. In fact, I believe my parents were about as perfect as parents could be in administering just the right amounts of positive and negative reinforcement, as they sought to draw out the best in us.
But, that day has stayed with me throughout my life, as I saw it as a point where I felt I figured out how to “game the system” … (also gaming the rules, bending the rules, abusing the system, cheating the system, milking the system, playing the system, or working the system) can be defined as using the rules and procedures meant to protect a system in order, instead, to manipulate the system for a desired outcome.
At that age, I thought myself to be pretty smart. You see, I now knew I didn’t need to barely lift a finger to contribute to the family, because my meals would still be cooked and my clean clothes would still appear in my dresser drawers. “Cool! What took me so long to figure this out?”, I thought to myself.
But, as I grew older, I grew wiser. I witnessed many amazing examples of people who did things for others for no other reason than it was good and right to do it. I began to understand that love is selfless. Love doesn’t consider what “kick-back” is gained by doing something for others. They “just do it,” as the Nike slogan says.
Ultimately, the 2×4 over the head came when I “truly” considered what God had done for me in sacrificing His only Son for us. A parent allowing their child to suffer the worst kind of torture imaginable is the ultimate sacrifice. God went “all the way” in demonstrating just how much He loves us.
But, here’s the deal … We continue to “game the system.” We barely lift a finger to do more than what is minimally expected. Many even think themselves so smart that, you know, God is love, and so He isn’t going to hold my repetitive sins against me … my ticket is punched for heaven. I don’t really need to try at all because, you know …
“God has to do that!”
Let’s leave aside our childish notions in how we can “game the system,” and let’s enter into the “wisdom of love.”
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