by Father Mark Goldasich
Have you ever heard the expression: “Not my circus, not my monkeys”? This colorful phrase from Poland means that something is not my problem.
The following story gives a different slant:
A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover that it was a mousetrap.
Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed, “There’s a mousetrap in the house!”
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it’s of no consequence to me. I can’t be bothered by it.”
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There’s a mousetrap in the house!”
The pig sympathized, but said, “I’m so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you’re in my prayers.”
The mouse then turned to the cow and said, “There’s a mousetrap in the house!”
The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the mousetrap alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house — the snap of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she didn’t see it was a poisonous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever.
Because you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. As his wife’s sickness continued, friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
Sadly, though, the farmer’s wife died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for them all.
The mouse looked upon everything from his crack in the wall with great sadness. (Adapted from “The Mousetrap,” found in Meir Liraz’s “Top 100 Motivational Stories.”)
Liraz offers this sobering moral to the story: “The next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember: When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. . . . We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another. Each one of us is a vital thread in another person’s tapestry.”
Pope Francis has warned many times of the danger of indifference, calling it a “great sin.” Celebrating Mass for the first World Day of the Poor in November 2017 with some 7000 poor people in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope said: “[Indifference] is when we say, ‘That doesn’t regard me; it’s not my business; it’s society’s problem.’ It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need . . . when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it. God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good.”
As we enter into Respect Life Month in October, may our hearts expand to do “some good” for all whose lives lack respect: the unborn and the elderly; people lacking adequate medical care; the homeless; those discriminated against for any reason; people burdened with physical or mental illnesses; victims of violence, trafficking and natural disasters; those impacted by manmade disasters of war, the misuse of the world’s resources and greed; refugees; prisoners on death row; and all relegated to the peripheries.
Like it or not, as Christians, this world is always our circus, and these are always our monkeys.