Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Elizabeth can stand. Not quite cruising yet (which, for all of my readers who are not parents, means that a child walks with the support of his/her hands on objects such as a couch or coffee table), Elizabeth is able to pull herself up on just about anything a few inches off the ground; she can also crawl at the speed of some small animals. This, in turn, has caused me and Emily to do a bit of "baby-proofing" around our house. Shoes have to be put in the closet. Food and sharp utensils cannot be kept even with body-length/reach. The TV is kept off between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Doors of rooms "off-limits" are permanently closed. In a lot of ways, the house is more "adult-proof" than "baby-proof".

My heightened sense of anxiety because of Elizabeth's heightened abilities of mobility has perpetuated a reflection on the word "proof".

It has multiple meanings. A noun, verb and adjective, the word means everything from evidence, to a trial copy, to resistant and the activation of yeast.

Proofing was mentioned in last week's Gospel: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened” (Matthew 13: 32 - 33). Part of Jesus' long list of parables, proofing - or the activation of yeast - is a concept that recurs throughout the Bible, but mostly in a negative way. But, as Jesus often does, he reverses the commonly held perception of yeast and gives it lasting power. We think of proofing dough and its connotation to how we should view the Kingdom of God in a positive way. Bread that doesn't rise or expand, even in our carb conscious culture, is typically not a good thing (especially if it is supposed to). Prior to Jesus's use of the concept, yeast was seen as something that would take over dough, similar to the way that sin can take over every aspect of our lives. Expanding and rising in intensity, even a little sin can lead us into a downward spiral.

Jesus's use of the idea is proof that we are called to rise and expand. We are to become activated, quickened, elevated, and in being so enlivened - leavened - we should be able to do the same for others.

Educators within Catholic Schools should be this key ingredient in the recipe for our students' learning. Inspiring the pursuit of greater and deeper knowledge should be coupled with an equally intense search for spiritual development. The two of these combined should leaven us out of our school doors to make the world a better place. We shouldn't just be bread for the world, we must also be the yeast that makes the bread possible.

So, we must provide a different type of proof as well. We must be the proof, or evidence, that the Kingdom of God truly exists. Called to establish His Kingdom here on Earth in the hopes of inheriting a piece of it in eternity, we must behave in such a way that our very lives cause others to consider the fact that there is not only a benevolent God, but that this God passionately desires an intimate relationship with us. We must be the proof (n.):

1. The evidence or argument that compels the mind to accept an assertion as true
2. The convincing or persuasive demonstration
3. The determination of the quality of something by testing (definitions via: The Free Dictionary)

of such a God.

How do we offer up such proof? With the same ingredient that proves we are Christians and that mom's cooking really is the best: love.