When my husband and I were new parents one of the most helpful books we read was “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Dr. Harvey Karp.  He has a sequel to the book called, “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” for one-to-four year olds.  Both books are filled with sound advice and explanations, but one technique seemed to be magical with our toddlers (which we still use today) is called “praise through gossiping.” 

Most parents intuitively do this, but in case you’ve never heard of it, let me give an example.  One parent tells the other parent in grand fashion all the ways Toddler Jane was a good girl today.  It’s somewhat exaggerated, of course, but the key is that this praise is done within earshot of Jane.  “Daddy, I’ve been meaning to tell you all the ways Jane was such a good helper today!  First she brought baby sister her bottle, then she got dressed all by herself, then she…”  Meanwhile, Daddy says, “You don’t say!  Now, what a big girl.  We’re going to have to make sure Jane gets an extra book at bedtime tonight!”  You get the idea.  The main thing is to ensure that Jane overhears this conversation.  You know the outcome, too:  Jane beams with pride in a way that is deeper than if you just complimented her in the moment.  It seems like you’re talking to Daddy, but you’re really talking straight to Jane’s heart.

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is one that we get to overhear.  We are meant to overhear it.  It was designed that we might overhear it.  Because it was a conversation meant for us all along.  The prayer of Jesus in John 17:

I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word…and they have believed that you sent me… I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

Jesus, allowing us to overhear his words to God, ends up speaking right to our hearts.

Lord, speak to us that we may speak in living echoes of your tone.  Amen.

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