by Father Mark Goldasich
I’ve spend the last couple of days checking my house for bugs — not the creepy-crawly kind, but the “listening” kind. I’m convinced that someone — let’s call him Pope Francis — knows exactly what I’m thinking and repeatedly “just happens” to give voice to things that I am (or should be) dealing with.
Here’s the most recent example. I just got back last Friday afternoon from vacation. Once again, I hauled a ton of stuff on the trip, cramming every available space in a suitcase and various bags with essential items. On returning home, I’d not touched most of what I packed . . . as usual. I was extremely comfortable and content with only a fraction of what I’d brought along. And what was true on vacation — that less is better — can certainly be said about my living quarters. How does a single man acquire so many possessions?
Enter Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Rio. At a slum on July 25, he denounced a “culture of selfishness and individualism.” Evidently, he “some- how” knew about my travel items and my duplex. (See why I suspect bugs?) I can just hear him asking me, “When do you think you’ll read all of those books you own? How many shirts do you really need? With all of the office supplies you have, are you thinking of opening a school or business?”
Many have spoken of the humility and simplicity of our still-new pope. I like to think of him as a “living catechism,” who teaches by both word and example. He does what the Scriptures do: Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Sadly, I see myself in the man in this little story:
One day, as was usually the case, a little orphan girl stood on a street corner, beging. This child was wearing tattered clothing and her hair was a mess. And, as she hadn’t bathed in a while, she was quite dirty and fragrant.
Now it happened that a wealthy young man passed that corner every day without giving the little girl a second glance. One day, though, when he returned to his expensive home, his happy family and his well-laden table, his thoughts suddenly turned to that orphan girl.
Growing angry with God, the young man said, “Lord, how can you let this happen to that poor kid? Why don’t you do something to help her?”
And then, from the depths of his heart, the man heard the unmistakable voice of God that said, “I did do something! I created you!” (Adapted from a story in “The Sower’s Seeds” by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR.)
Yes, God continues to do something about hunger, pain, despair and poverty in our world. He’s created each of us to be his heart, hands and help to others. By his Spirit, God wants to replace individualism with solidarity and selfishness with generosity.
While any time is a great time to share, August seems particularly appropriate. As kids get ready to head back to school, there is a frenzy of buying that goes on: school supplies, clothing, shoes, etc.
And even if we don’t have kids, inevitably we’re lugging new “improved” things into our lives. As those new items flood into our homes, let’s make sure at the same time to let usable “old stuff” trickle out — into the hands of organizations or individuals who need it.
As a visible reminder, place a box or bag in every room of your home. When you come across something outdated or unwanted or not needed, pop it immediately into the donation container. When full (or simply when you know you’ll be passing
a favorite charity), take the box or bag to your car and drop it off.
And the next time you’re bugged about something and catch yourself looking to heaven and asking, “God, when are you going to help with x, y or z?” know that you’ll find the answer staring back at you in the mirror.