The Word of God

Pass Your Plate

“Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.” Romans 5:7

I love happy people. 

These souls help take the edge off an otherwise completely miserable existence caused, in no small part, by the grueling mantras of the pessimistic, cold, among us who brood and blame like there’s no tomorrow.  The happiest people in the world have at least one thing in common. They not only know how to forgive; they also seem to be creative about it. Conversely, some of the most unpleasant, mean-spirited, and revengeful people are those who mistakenly believe that retaliation and revenge are spiritual acts of mercy. It seems we have stumbled onto a new definition of insanity, or maybe just an expanded version of the more famous (or infamous) one, “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” 

From most circles these days, especially as we hopefully and gratefully approach post-pandemic panic and political posturing, all these attitudes about love and life, and yes, forgiveness stem from our most early experiences with the world that do in fact resonate with our parents and those significant as great as those figures in life.  It is nothing short of amazing how happy a person can be when they can joyfully accept their faults, failings, and the unsweetness of life while practicing forgiveness at every possible juncture, especially with one’s closest friends and family. 

Take the remarkable example of a young father with a group of rambunctious and promising adults-in-the-making that we bring here today. His youngest of three is an eight-year-old whirling, remarkably sociable for his age, and very active, to say the least. Justin is an amazing young man today, but in the turbulent but joyous days of childhood leading up to adulthood, there were a few bumps along the way. One of the more famous and pivotal concerns was Justin’s bicycle, a lack of appreciation for time, and amazing consequences. 

Justin was a very happy child who made friends as often as he made his own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And he loved to ride his bike all around the neighborhood, check in with all his friends and acquaintances, which were many,  and very often arrived late for the family dinner. Time and time again, Dad would chastise him, every so gently, in front of his older sisters and mom, and for a while it would work, maybe even for two weeks, but soon it was back to the same late for dinner, sweaty little boy rushing in to grab what was left on the table with a frustrated father staring at him. It wasn’t working, apparently. Dad and the family had reached their patience threshold and it was time for drastic measures. 

Justin knew he was in trouble when his father called him into the kitchen. It seemed as if all the real serious conversions took place there. And he was right. It was hard enough for his dad to make the necessary expectations on his pre-teen and teenage daughters, but if he couldn’t even control his son, then this whole parenting adventure would end in a miserable flop. So here’s what happened: 

The rule was simple. Justin was to arrive back from his afternoon tour de chance, after finishing his homework previously. He had to be at the table, hands washed, appetite engaged, and ready for grace or, and here was the ominous not-so-veiled threat: He would sit at the table and go without supper  while everyone else enjoyed Mom’s home-cooked delights. “Piece of cake, Dad!,” Justin retorted. It seemed  easy enough. 

The new approach to discipline and daily family time seemed to have worked for about ten days and the family continued to move forward along with school, work, and keeping happy. But as little boys’ minds tend to drift and lose track of time, so did the inevitable moment saunter into the collective and individual memories of all who would sit at that table. It was one of those cool October early evenings when the sky turned a dark burnt orange with scatter clouds accenting the horizon. The cool breeze definitely heralded the end of that long, dry summer and there was new life in the step of those who looked forward to the typical feasts of Thanksgiving and Christmas not too far away. Who could possibly remember what time it was with this magnificent backdrop. Certainly not Justin. Realizing that all his friends had already retreated to their homes for supper, and finding himself alone on his bike, it hit him: “I am late!” Yes, he was. 

Pedaling as fast as his little legs could push, and hoping against hope that they had started later than usual, or there were unexpected guests, or Mom was just taking longer to prepare everything, he knew this night was not going to be good. He was right. He rushed in and everyone was at the table staring at him. He quickly washed his hands, grabbed his place at the table, and waited for the prayer before meals. Tonight was not the night to do this. Mom had prepared his favorite: pot roast with mashed potatoes and fresh dinner rolls, butter rolling down the silky-smooth domes of each portion. The smell was amazing. He dared not look up lest the harsh lecture would ensue. His father served each plate, making an obvious overplay at the sights and smells of such a great meal. Everyone was served except Justin. He stared longingly at his empty white plate and wondered how he could forget about coming home on time. He sighed and took a sip of the glass of water by his empty plate. He then looked up hoping to offer some words of sorrow to buy him dinner when something amazing happened. 

He watched his father rise from the table without taking his eyes off of his son. He took his own plate of food and lovingly exchanged it with his son’s. Someone would have to pay for this infraction and his dad did not want Justin to go to bed hungry. He went hungry that night so that his son would never starve from God’s infinite love. As awkward as it was beautiful, the rest of the family ate and slowly began conversation as if nothing had happened. But something wonderful did happen and none of them would ever forget it. 

Love shows itself in so many and mysterious ways. It is the nature of our God who loves us in such a manner. The beauty of life is to appreciate that mystery, celebrate the love we have in this world, and realize that without sacrifice, we could never understand the wonders of what we have. God is love and when we love, and forgive, and carry the burdens of others, we can taste what Jesus has accomplished for the world and each one of us. What would you do for the ones you love? 

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi

Share your thoughts (29 thoughts)

29 thoughts on “Pass Your Plate”

  • Tony Montez says:

    What a beautiful story. It’s occurred to me over the years that parents have two fundamental responsibilities; keep our children safe and ensure they are provided appropriate opportunities for growth. These two responsibilities are undergirded with the gift of God’s love. Hence, loving our children is naturally easy. Loving our children appropriately and effectively is incredibly difficult. Osama bin Laden loved his children with catastrophic consequences. Virtuous parenting is more art than science. This story illustrates a young, prudent father artfully loving his child appropriately and effectively. I imagine all the effort and sacrifice Justin’s parents made to provide a safe neighborhood where he could ride his bike without a care. It’s up to Justin’s parents for him to have childhood memories of his good old days. Justin making friends and socializing are wonderful opportunities for growth. All opportunities for growth include risk, which is balanced by the child’s ability to manage the corresponding responsibility. Justin didn’t manage his responsibility. His father took full advantage of the teaching moment beautifully and with far more depth than simply time management. Lest we forget, this lesson in compassionate was made all the more beautiful and effective because Justin’s dinner was lovingly and skillfully prepared by the hands of his mother.

  • Tony Montez says:

    What a beautiful story. Loving our children is easy. Loving our children properly and effectively is incredibly difficult. Terrorists love their children. Osama Bin Laden loved his children with catastrophic consequences. This story illustrates how loving our children properly and effectively is more art than science. This father’s love in action was artful. The wonderful lesson given from father to son was wrapped in a meal lovingly and skillfully prepared by the hands of wife and mother.

    • Caro says:

      Thank you once again, Dr. Montez, for gracing these pages with our reflection on our most recent post. I particularly like the assertion that parenting is more an art than a science. How very true! We also appreciate the remembrance of a mother’s role in all of this. Other readers wanted to hear more about the woman who sat quietly and lovingly watching everything unfold. I think we both know where they are: Still in our hearts! God bless you and your family always. See you real soon.

  • Veronica Altamirano says:

    This is a beautiful story of the sacrifices and constant hard decisions every parent makes whether they are a single parent or a two parent household. In our home we constantly remind each other about sacrifice and how love equals sacrifice and sacrifice equals love.

    The Dad had to sacrifice his time, show that he loves his son by correcting his behavior, and put together a plan/decision in how his son was going to be given his consequence, all while showing God’s love. It’s still important to show love in all of our actions and explain to our children the what and the why of important decisions/consequences. Growing up, all I ever heard was “because I said so” and although I respected my mom and did as I was told, I choose to tell my children the what and the why of most decisions/consequences. I think it makes it clear to them that I love them enough to say or do something, showing them the sacrifices I make, and the love I am giving them along the way, too. Time is something we can not get back so time, my time for my children is showing them love.

    I enjoy reading these articles, so please keep them coming. It gives me a breath of fresh air on different scenarios and perspectives in our journey called “life” and living our faith.

    God bless you always!!!

    • Caro says:

      Excellent remarks, Veronica! Thank you for gracing our readers with your thoughts this fine day. You help us all remember that actions have consequences and may have a lasting impact on the rest of our lives. We must recall that there is no reset, undo or edit button in life and yet, we are free to choose whatever action we want to take never free from the consequences. Thank God for Jesus and his loving mercy. See you next time! God bless you and all your family.

  • Mary Ann Ramos says:

    Wow! What a powerful thing to do! The father in this story is just like Jesus. We are all made in His image and likeness. A beautiful example of loving sacrifice! Once again, you are bringing Scripture to life with your God given gift of story telling. Thank you so very much! I loved it! Please continue to share your gift!

    • Caro says:

      Yes, indeed, Mary Ann, the father in our post is exactly like Jesus who removed the horrible scourge of our sins from the records of our lives. Thanks so much for your comments and for following as faithfully as you have. We could say now and always that Jesus paid a debt he didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay. God bless you and your family always!

  • Denise Guerra says:

    What would I do for the ones I love? As a mom, I can say, sacrifice and forgiveness for one’s family is part of the job description. Although I will say that some of the sacrifices are easier to bear than some of the infractions are to forgive. I believe it is part of becoming a parent that you would do anything for your child(ren) in order for their lives to be productive. Sometimes, the children fail to see all that is sacrificed for them and start to take the parents for granted. Words can be spoken in such ways that are in some ways ungrateful and hurtful. Sometimes those instances are difficult to forget and forgive because they hurt. Most people, even parents, do not stay in that state for long and forgiveness usually wins out. I look at it as, “if God can forgive all I’ve done in my life, then why shouldn’t I learn to forgive as well?”

    • Caro says:

      Welcome back, Denise and thank you very much for your comments! I knew someone would answer the question, “What would you do for the ones you love?,” and I was glad and enthused to read your remarks. Parenthood provides a unique and wonderful perspective on how to live the Gospel: “When did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or with a broken heart, or with foul disposition, and love you anyway?” Again, receive the thanks and gratitude of all of us especially our readers who benefit from these comments and insights. Today in the Daily Readings, we quoted C. S. Lewis and I think it is quite applicable: “Of course, God does not consider you hopeless. If He did He would not be moving you to seek Him (and He obviously is). What is going on in you at present is simply the beginning of the treatment. Continue seeking with cheerful seriousness. Unless He wanted you, you would not be wanting Him.”

  • Kris says:

    Only human beings can afflict each other with an unbearable pain, but the same humans can show such a great love that even God can be speechless.

    What it takes for the humans of the common origin to be so drastically different ? Not much. Cain and Abel show it to us what we are capable to do to another human.
    Why do we waist so much time and energy to dug a chasm bigger than the Great Canyon and allow our free will to be subdued, perverted and enslaved ? Because we are allured and mesmerized by Satan the father of lies, deception and manipulation.
    How come that once again the whole world has lost its sanity and civility? Because we’ve been too busy “pedaling our bicycles” with bigger and wider circles just to be late, never on time, ignoring warnings and missing the most important moment of every day to “sit at the table of the human family in order to look at each other, recharge our love, learn from each other and share the nourishment from the generous table graced by the heavenly Daddy.
    We drifted way too far from God and each other. The heavenly Daddy’s plate has been set before us, but the “sacrifice of the Father” with the empty plate in from of Him has not even been noticed. Even God needs to be nourished and that nourishment is our LOVE.

    “At the table of the world some have plenty some have none, at the table of our God all are plentifully fed.”

    Thank you for another masterpiece filling my mind with gratitude. I have such a privilege to sit at the table of my Heavenly Father with the plate of love is in front of me. Come and sit at it, too. All are welcomed.

    • Caro says:

      Welcome back, Kris and thank you so very much for your insightful and poignant comments. I love the way you have taken parts of the blog post and extrapolated them to a new and wondrous level of meaning. “Why do we waste so much time and energy to” dig chasms and insurmountable postures and positions, indeed! Pride and the loss of civility seem to have become an artform especially among those who have power over others. Our Father has most certainly provided us with the richest fare which finds its complete finality in the Eucharist, a breath-taking sharing in the Heavenly Banquet, here and not yet. God bless you always and may God guide us all through a crazed world bent on destruction and removing beauty and joy from this life. We shall all sit and be fed. We are intrinsically welcomed. We have the same Father.

  • Kristen says:

    Wow… this truly took my breath away, followed by a few sobs towards the end. It goes without saying that many adults are experiencing a great deal of nostalgia with this article; we’ve all dealt with some form of discipline and lecture-infused childhood, God knows I have. It’s unfortunate, in my case, that I took the lectures and paired them with disdain. I’d carry this inability to accept lectures and advice into my adulthood, as they’d harpoon me back to my childhood, in turn making me feel like a child once again. My hate for being “seen as a child” while an adult clouded the blessings these lectures had bestowed unto me. For many years, I went by my own, selfish advice, ignoring my dad’s voice when I was about to do something off-track. Many of these times, I’d pay the consequence of my actions in a hefty way, and each time, it led me further and further away from the Light. It wasn’t until just five years ago, when I sought help from an old church friend. I had become so far from God that it left me skeptical of her God-based advice. But after a few years of seeing her, after many talks and visits about seeing my past in a new Light, my relationship with God reignited, my relationship with my parents was renewed, and my relationship with myself was restored. As a child, I didn’t understand the importance of my dad’s lectures until just recently. He wasn’t trying to scold me, he was trying to teach me. He worked many, many hours and missed many holidays because of his job, so that my sisters and I could have a good life, and want for nothing. Once I understood his sacrifice, I asked his forgiveness and he only laughed. He said he forgave me a long time ago: when I called him a ‘mean boy’ at four years old because he didn’t give me dessert for not eating my broccoli. I used to look back on my childhood with resentment, now I look back with appreciation that reaches to High Heaven. God has blessed me with the most loving, caring, and understanding parents I could ever ask for. And He continues to bless with me with astounding mentors to this day. I now take lectures and advice seriously, because I hear both my dad and my God speaking through them, and I know to trust their words with all my heart… because the only one who was steering me wrong, was me. Now that I am back on the right track, it’s full speed ahead; thanks to my parents, and thanks be to He.

    • Caro says:

      Once again, Kristen, you have brought a level of depth and wealth of meaning to all of us in response to “Pass Your Plate.” You remind us all that childhood still has a remarkable treasure trove of knowledge that can be shared with adults, especially parents, and that a learned and well-lived adult life sheds countless pearls of wisdom into lives that are just waiting for guidance and helpful instruction. Every day we live is yet another chapter in this great journey and there is ALWAYS something to be learned and remembered and shared. Jesus gives us all the grace to forgive and the incentive to make every day an opportunity for growth that leads to a happy, peaceful life that in turn helps create and sustain the world that God has intended for us to live. Thank you for your thoughts and insights today. See you next time. “Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don’t let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.” R. I. Fitzhenry

  • Gabriel Estrada says:

    As a parent I see it happen more often than not that kids watch everything. And everything includes those subtle intentions to be like Christ. The greatest lessons we can teach those we love come from depriving ourselves of pleasures and sacrifice for those we love. Once again, you have illustrated what it means to find happiness and joy and to spread God’s Love with those we most deeply care about.

    • Caro says:

      Thank you Gabriel for your comments today. Many of our readers have communicated through e-mails and phone calls that this particular rendering of inspiration made more than perfect sense in the world of parenting. In fact, one particular reader said he was going to enact something similar for his son as was administered to Justin in our blog post. Hopefully, we can report another modern-day installment of parental love in action. You and all the parents who follow us have a front-row seat at the stage where God shows us how much He truly loves us. When you love someone so much, as in the parent-child relationship, God is there.

  • Fr. David says:

    I love the concrete reality of Mercy in the action of the father. I always think of mercy as love, forgiveness and blessings bestowed upon us precisely because we don’t deserve it. We deserve a reward and we will be rewarded as well. But Mercy… Oh wow! That was touching.

    • Caro says:

      Welcome back, Father, and thank you for addressing all of us today. You help us remember that the ocean-sized mercy for which Jesus emptied His entire being is indeed a “concrete reality.” I love that phrase! Unless our experience of Jesus, who loves us with every fiber of His being, is as bright as the sunshine and as soothing as the steady waves at the seashore on a moonlit night, we may never ever fully realize how magnificent mercy and forgiveness really are! God bless you, Father! Thank you for your ministry.

  • Gabriel Gonzalez says:

    Yet another great read for this evening before bed, the twist the father did for his son was a great act of love. Especially how god has helped us all with all our struggles in life. I’m very thankful again for these beautiful readings. Can’t express how much they’ve helped me these past couple months. Glad to always share my thoughts.

    • Caro says:

      Thank you, Gabe for your reaction today. I am glad it made for a peaceful transition from another full day to a well-deserved peaceful night’s rest. Being a parent, as you have learned recently, involves and enacts every fiber of your being, awakening emotions you thought you never had, and surprising you with the strength that you only dreamed could arise. God bless you, Gabe! These are great days indeed.

  • Margo says:

    As a parent, we want the best for our children . Sometimes we have to sacrifice our own happiness to teach them that sacrifice is a necessity in life. They need to learn early in life, especially in todays world, that forgiveness goes along way. Ive destructed relationships because I haven’t been able to forgive. I Hope to teach my kids that forgiving will give you less strife in life. I think maybe I need to teach myself that.

    • Caro says:

      Your heartfelt words and clearly deeply reflected commentary has touched many of us today, especially the Author. You remind me that life without forgiveness is like a muggy, damp, and dark room. It’s like that because we have closed the windows and the shades creating this strangely inner distance of loneliness and regret. And all the while, the sun is shining outside, and the air is fresh and revitalizing. In order to get that fresh air, we have to get up and open the window and draw the curtains apart. Then we can breathe. Thanks, Margo, for your words. You help remind all of us that we never have to be afraid to start over because this time we are not starting from scratch, we are starting from experience.

  • Julie Trevino says:

    Another amazing and great inspirational message! Thank you!! I really liked the twist in the story. The father demonstrated great love and sacrifice for his son. It reminded me of how much my parents sacrificed for us and the great love they showed. My husband and I have sacrificed so much for our children and we love them with our lives. That’s just what Jesus did. He sacrificed His Life for us because He loves us so much. Now we pass it down to our grandchildren. We keep passing our plate.

    • Caro says:

      Thank you very much, Julie, for yet another response to our offering today. We appreciate your time as do many of our readers who send us messages via social media that these comments are beneficial, not only to deepen their awareness of the Spirit working in their lives, but also to help form an online community of sorts who also walk the walk. My favorite line you wrote was easy to spot: “We keep passing our plate.” See you next time!

  • Ron says:

    I love a story with a twist. I especially love a story with a lesson. Sacrifice has become a word that too many of us never ponder. In this era of instant and self-serving gratification we neglect to see how sacrifice draws us nearer to our Lord, for if we truly desire to live for Him we must live like Him. Sacrifice is hard and often times it comes at a price. For the martyrs, it is the ultimate price but with the ultimate reward. Sometimes it takes wonderful stories like this one to re-open our eyes to the sacrifice Jesus made for us all and remind ourselves that love is such a powerful force in the world. I am further reminded of Mother Teresa’s Anyway Poem:

    People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
    Forgive them anyway.
    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
    Be kind anyway.
    If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
    Succeed anyway.
    If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
    Be honest and frank anyway.
    What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
    Build anyway.
    If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
    Be happy anyway.
    The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
    Do good anyway.
    Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
    Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
    You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
    It was never between you and them anyway.

    God bless you and thank you for another inspiring story.

    • Caro says:

      Your insights on our offering today are only matched by your choices of one of my favorite selections from the great Saint Mother Teresa. O sic omnia sint is a phrase that I saw hand written in a book dated over 100 years old which basically says, Oh, if only everyone were like him! We must say that about Jesus and start with ourselves. I try earnestly as you do to live up to the calling we have received. Only by the grace of God and the positive answer to the invitation to forgive perfectly will we ever hope to get close to that goal before our final curtain call. Thanks again, Ron. May your days be blessed.

  • Theresa Mosel says:

    This is such an incredible example of love, set in a perfect tone of the struggles we all can feel day to day. One can only hope and pray, that as a family we can unite with understanding and forgiveness. As a society, we must build courage to do the same, as Our Heavenly Father does for his Children.
    So touching of a tale of human life, and the power we all have to influence others with Love leading the way.❤️

    • Caro says:

      Well written, Theresa and thank you for your insights. I believe the experience of “trading” the awful consequence of a simple infraction will remind Justin that His Father in Heaven has done the same. God bless you for taking the time to write to us and our readers.

  • Anonymous says:

    Last night the men’s Bible study which I’m a part of, had a deep discussion about being pro life. One of the questions that kept coming up was forgiveness. Is all sin forgivable?
    Yes, if you ask with a contrite heart. When we go to confession we go on our knees asking for mercy, because if we seek justice we might find ourselves in the pains of hell. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

    • Caro says:

      Thank you for your comment, Brother, as we are all grateful for your time and interest. Let’s take a look at this in 2 ways: First, Jesus said that the only unpardonable, unforgivable sin would be blaspheming or ridiculing the Holy Spirit. The very definition here would suggest a not-so-small lapse of sanity for anyone to even approach such an act. This does suggest that it is demonic in nature and origin so for now, I think it is safe to say that we’re in the clear. Secondly, however, I would like to address the very nature of the question: why would we ask if there is any sin not forgivable? For this we must return to the Greatest Act of Love ever performed on this planet which is the Crucifixion. What part of His Death did not or could not redeem any lost soul? I live my life with the unquenchable hope that Jesus died for me personally and will never let me go. This belief, and this one alone, urges me to forgive as often and as perfectly as I can (7 x 7 x). Except for the reference to the Holy Spirit, I do not believe there is such a thing as an unforgivable sin. There is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future.

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