by Father Mark Goldasich
I’m already making my list and checking it twice. I hope you are, too, because that special day will be here before we know it.
Naturally, I’m talking about Be an Angel Day, which is coming up on Saturday, Aug. 22. What, you thought I was talking about something else?
So, what does it take to be an angel? It’s simple: You have to be a messenger from God. We do that primarily by making God’s love visible through our words and actions. We’re called to give people hope, to be a light to others, to extend a helping hand.
In other words, we shift our focus from ourselves to other people.
I love the story of a rookie police officer who was on foot patrol one evening in a particularly dangerous part of town. He noticed a young woman waiting by herself for a bus. He approached her and asked, “Want me to wait with you?”
“Thank you,” the woman replied, “but that’s not necessary. I’m not afraid.”
“Well, then,” said the officer with a sheepish grin, “would you mind waiting with me?”
Quite simply, we need each other in life and there’s no better way to build bridges than by being kind — angelic — to one another. It’s really much easier than you think as the following story, told by the Rev. Dr. Jim Schibsted, pastor of the First Congregational Church of Anaheim, California, shows:
While [my wife] Penny and I were walking in the park the other day, a 10-year-old boy came racing around a tree and almost ran into us and said, “Dad, where’s Amy?” Instantly, he realized his mistake and said, “Sir, I’m sorry. I thought you were my dad.”
“That’s OK,” I replied. “Everybody makes mistakes.”
As he began to walk away, I noticed he had a limp as well as the features of a child with Down syndrome. After about 10 yards, as an afterthought, the boy turned around and retraced his steps toward us.
“My name is Billy,” he began. “You both were very nice to me. Can I give you a hug?”
After giving each of us a tight hug, he said, “I just wanted you to know that you’re my friends and I’m going to be praying for you! I have to go and find my sister Amy. Bye and God bless you!”
Tears came to Penny’s and my eyes as we watched him head to the playground. After Billy went down the slide, his mother came over to him and gave him a big hug. It was obvious that he was a special child to her.
Sometimes, God uses the Billys of this world to break down our walls of sophistication to show us what genuine kindness is all about. We must never underestimate the impact that a hug, smile or encouraging word may have on a person’s life. (Adapted from “At the Playground,” found in “Illustrations Unlimited,” edited by James S. Hewett.)
This is what being an angel is all about. Sadly, this pandemic has not just taken a physical toll on people, but an emotional and spiritual one as well. It has laid bare some disturbing attitudes of nastiness and selfishness, dividing us even further from one another.
So, now’s the perfect time to bring on the angels and infuse kindness, respect and generosity back into our society.
With social distancing, we’ve certainly got to be more creative than ever in our angelic interactions. But it can, and must, be done. And, let’s face it, being an angel is downright fun!
You don’t need a list from me on practical ways to be kind. But remember that an angelic person can also be kind by not doing things — things like gossiping, being snarky online and off, or seeing the worst in people.
Say, as long as you’re getting your idea list ready for Be an Angel Day, why wait until Aug. 22 to get started? Do something angelic today . . . and keep the world from having the devil to pay!