“Mom, why did you do that?” my daughter asked as we took the long trek back out to the car after
returning a small item we had forgotten to pay for in the self-checkout line. “Wouldn’t it have been easier to just take it? It probably did not matter if you did.” And given the reaction of the store clerk, I quietly thought that perhaps my daughter was right. The small item returned was worth less than five dollars, and it seemed no one really cared whether or not it was accounted for.
But there was actually someone who did:me.
As we walked again in the hot summer day back to the car, I explained to her that I just would not be able to sit with the knowledge of what I had done. Yes, perhaps the clerk did not care, but I did, and even more importantly, so does Jesus. To ignore the mistake would be to ignore my promise to him to live a life as he wants for us. To ignore the mistake would, in many ways, be denying him before others (Lk 8-12).
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is quite clear that discipleship is not always an easy thing to do, especially when we can make easier choices that bring immediate gratification. Adding to the complexity of living a life of discipleship, we also sometimes simply do not know what choice to make or what to say as we navigate the messy interactions we encounter in our day-to-day lives. But, fear not, for Christ offers us the gift of the Holy Spirit, a guide who helps us sort out what to do. All we have to do is trust him, and we will be guided to do the right thing. The Holy Spirit will fill us with the courage and wisdom we need to proclaim Christ to all whom we encounter. This is the greatest lesson from Christ’s instruction in the Gospel of Luke: trust the Holy Spirit.
As we accompany our children through the trials and errors of decision-making and navigating the challenges of doing the right things, may we not forget that living a life of discipleship is not to be a private affair, but one that shares and proclaims. We have an important responsibility to instill in our children a reliance on the Holy Spirit to find the right way to proclaim Christ to others. They can do this through their words and deeds, but also through their living a relationship with Jesus, guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Our roles as mom is certainly to nurture their physical well-being, but their spiritual well-being is at least as important. And how we respond to Christ’s call to live a life focused on him is the essence of passing the faith to our children and allowing for the Holy Spirit guide us in living a life of discipleship—even if it means walking across a hot parking lot to return an unpaid item worth less than a cup of coffee.