Column: Ready for some dumpster diving?

Mark my words
Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich 

The older I get, the easier it gets to make New Year’s resolutions.

I pull out last year’s list and simply change the date to the brand-new year! Somehow, I never manage to make any real progress on changing my life for the better.

Since we’re now in the Christmas season, see what you think about the following story, told by David Slagle of Decatur, Georgia:

“I love ribs, so when I heard about a restaurant that had amazing ribs, a bunch of my friends and I drove 50 minutes to
get there. The place was packed, and the food was great. It was ‘all-you-can- eat’ rib night, and the bones were piling up as fast as the line to get in.

“Eating ribs is a messy business. Barbecue sauce gets on your face, fingers and clothes. Dirty napkins pile up next to half-eaten bowls of baked beans and coleslaw. When our crew had eaten all we could, we paid our tab and waddled out to the car.

“I reached into my pocket for my keys and came up with nothing but lint. Panicking, I looked through the car window at the ignition. I hoped that I’d locked my keys in the car, but when I saw that the ignition was empty, I knew exactly where my keys were — to my car, house and office. Only seconds earlier those precious keys had slid off of my plastic tray and followed a half-eaten corncob and many bones to the bottom of a trash can.

“My friends weren’t going to do the dirty work for me. So I dove into the dumpster, fishing through bones, beans, barbecue, corn, cake, coleslaw and a host of saliva-soaked napkins. A shiny layer of trash can slime coated my arms before I finally grabbed those precious keys.

“As I meditate on the Incarnation this Christmas season, I think about our dumpster-diving God. I mean no disrespect. On the contrary, I have a soaring adoration for the infinite God who left a pristine, sinless heaven to search through the filth and rubbish of this fallen world for something precious to him: me.” (Found in “1001 Illustrations That Connect,” edited by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof.)

In all of my theology classes over the years, I never heard Jesus referred to as a “dumpster diver.” But Slagle makes a good point about how much our God loves us sinful human beings.

I’d suggest that we could honor God by seeing ourselves with his eyes. New Year’s resolutions are one way that we can strive to become more and more the holy, precious people that God sees us to be. Essentially, resolutions are simply ways to overcome sin in our lives, especially that sin of laziness. Resolutions allow us to do a little dumpster diving into our own hearts to see not only the garbage, but also what’s precious: the spark of the divine that lives there.

If we truly believe that we are precious to God, shouldn’t we do all that we can to live up to that image? Pope Francis gave this list of some excellent resolutions to consider in the brand-new year:

  1. Don’t gossip.
  2. Finish your meals. (For many of us, this might deserve a corol- lary: Use smaller plates to ensure smaller portions.)
  3. Make time for others. (Put down the smartphone or tablet when in the company of living, breathing people, especially family and friends.)
  4. Choose the “more humble” purchase. (Go for quality, not flashiness.)
  5. Meet the poor “in the flesh,” and not simply “virtually” through a donation.
  6. Stop judging others.
  7. Befriend those who disagree with you. (This would be a noble undertaking in this election year.)
  8. Make commitments, such as marriage (or to your resolutions?).
  9. Make it a habit to “ask the Lord” for help, courage and guidance.
  10. Be happy.

If you, like me, see a lot of resolution work ahead in 2016, take heart from these words of St. Peter Canisius: “If you have too much to do, with God’s help you will find time to do it all.”

O dumpster-diving God, pray for us!

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