Our granddaughters spent a few days with us this past week. We built towers, drew pictures, read books and watched the squirrels running in the snow outside our window. We pushed cars along the floor and played the piano. I watched as Lauren danced and I listened as Ellie sang her special words to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Grandpa played pool with Ellie and Lauren, which means he sat them on top of the pool table and allowed them to roll the balls into the pockets. Eventually, Grandpa and I gave in to our fatigue and watched Jack Frost with the girls –the same animated program we viewed with their daddy almost thirty years ago.
As we watched, Ellie gave a running commentary on the action. She observed that though we could see Jack Frost flitting about as he blew an icy film across January Junction, the people could not see him. “But they know he’s there, Grandma, because he’s making icicles and snow.” Ellie complimented Jack’s amazing winter work. When Jack became human temporarily, Ellie told us that Elisa loved Jack because of all of the nice things he did. “I love Jack Frost, too!” Ellie said. When Elisa was kidnapped by the evil Kubla Kraus, Ellie proclaimed, “Jack Frost will go up in the castle and get Elisa away from that bad guy!” The following morning, I pointed out the snow on our deck and told Ellie that I thought Jack Frost had been there overnight. Ellie looked at the old paw prints the squirrels had left the day before and said, “No, Grandma. Jack Frost wasn’t here last night. Jack Frost made that snow a long time ago.”
This morning, as I put the toys away and placed Jack Frost back into the video cabinet, I considered Ellie’s assessment of her winter hero. Neither Jack’s appearance nor his words made much of an impression upon Ellie. It was what Jack did that took her in. Jack exhibited great passion for his work as he transformed January Junction into a beautiful wonderland in the cold of winter. When Jack became human for a little while, his smile grew as did his willingness to do what he could to help the local people. When Jack realized that the village was being terrorized by Kubla Kraus, he decided at once to lead a revolt against the evil tyrant. When Kubla Kraus kidnapped Elisa to make her his bride, Jack attempted to save her. When Jack was captured, he overheard Kubla Kraus’s plan to send a thousand mechanical knights to destroy January Junction. Of course, Jack found a way to stop the attack and to save the people whom he loved. Though our world is a bit more complicated than January Junction, Ellie’s ability to recognize Jack Frost’s goodness will serve her well. Ellie unknowingly grasped the message in today’s gospel (Matthew 5:13-15).
Matthew’s gospel continues today just after Jesus has offered his disciples the Beatitudes. Each of these promises that they are indeed blessed was meant to reassure them. Because they are God’s blessed ones, the disciples would endure and overcome whatever they might encounter in this world. Today, Jesus goes on to say, “You are the salt of the earth,” and “You are the light of the world.” Because they are God’s blessed ones, they must now be the salt that enriches those around them in everything they do. Because they are God’s blessed ones, they must now light the way for those who don’t yet know the road back home to God. Jesus leaves no room for uncertainty regarding how this will be accomplished when he says, “…your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” This is the only way those around them will take God’s message of peace and reconciliation, mercy and love to heart.
Ellie’s capacity to recognize a person’s goodness in his or her actions mirrors what I found in my own sons and in the hundreds of children I taught over the years. Children simply aren’t fooled by empty promises. Today, Jesus tells us that God’s children aren’t fooled by false pretenses either. The only way to draw those around us closer to God is to earn their attention like Jack Frost did –by simply doing the good that needs to be done.
©2011 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved