Columnists Mark my words

One good deed deserves another

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 month of November gives me pause, inviting me to reflect on life.

There are many reasons for this: It’s the end of the church, or liturgical, year. It’s the month set aside by the church to remember those who have died. And it’s also my birthday month, when I mark another year of life gone by.

The focal point of my pondering is the Last Judgment passage in Matthew’s Gospel where the Son of Man separates folks into two groups: the sheep and the goats (25: 31-46). The basis for this judgment is simple and practical: Who took time to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit prisoners? Doing these corporal works of mercy makes real the Gospel, the good news — not only for the receiver, but for the giver as well.

One of the criticisms leveled at Mother Teresa was that she dealt only with the symptoms of the world’s illness, not the disease. In other words, what good was it to take dying people off the streets to care for them, when nothing was being done to change the system, the reason why they were dying on the streets in the first place?

Mother Teresa replied that although she had no solution to the problem of poverty, she could show the love of Christ to one person at a time. And so can we.

Most of us are aware of our sins of commission, the bad we’ve done. We’re much less diligent about confessing sins of omission, those good things we could have done, but chose not to.

Often, we let ourselves off the hook for these sins by saying: What good will my small action do, given the immensity of problems like poverty, racism, materialism or violence? This little story can help put things into perspective:

Not too long ago in a place not too far away, a field mouse asked a wise old owl, “What is the weight of a snowflake?”

“Why, nothing more than nothing,” answered the owl.

The mouse went on to tell about the time she rested on a branch in a fir tree. She was counting each snowflake until the number was exactly three million, 471 thousand, 952. Then, with the settling of the very next flake — CRACK! The branch suddenly snapped, tumbling the mouse and the snow to the ground.

“Humph,” said the mouse, “such was the weight of nothing!” (Story adapted from Brian Cavanaugh’s “Fresh Packet of Sower’s Seeds: Third Planting.”)

That last little snowflake — number 3,471, 953 — had a tremendous impact. This attitude is what Mother Teresa lived: Show Christ’s love to just one person at a time. Imagine what would happen if all 1.3 billion Catholics throughout the world did this consistently each day? In no time at all, cracks in systemic poverty, racism, materialism and violence would no doubt appear.

November is a perfect time to truly prepare for the holidays . . . and for the Last Judgment that we’ll all have to face one day.

Look for and act on opportunities to live the Gospel each day. Pick up extra cans of soup or vegetables to donate to a food pantry; smile and encourage weary parents struggling with a fussy child; send a few bucks to an organization asking for donations as they help the needy; volunteer some of your time; listen attentively and speak gently to others.

In this new month, let’s concentrate our efforts to look out for number One, no matter how he’s disguised.

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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