Columnists Mark my words

There’s no time like the present to present a present to others

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

It’s no secret that I love stories, especially those that have an unexpected twist . . . or two.

Naturally, nothing could ever rival the story of Jesus — the Son of God, a king, born in a stable in an obscure town in an occupied country; someone who never lived in a palace, owned land or commanded an army; a king who surrounded himself not with royalty but with the poor and outcasts; an inspirational teacher with no academic degrees; an innocent man who died a shameful and painful death on a cross. But, oh, what a final twist when he rises gloriously from the dead to take his rightful place at God’s right hand.

Stories that announce the good news of the continuing influence of Jesus on our world never get old for me. This one, told by the late Pastor C. Roy Angell (great last name!) of Central Baptist Church in Miami, always touches my heart. It concerns a college friend of Pastor Angell named Paul who received a new car from his brother as a pre-Christmas present.

On Christmas Eve, when Paul came out of his office, a poor little boy was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it. “Is this your car, mister?” he asked.

Paul nodded and said, “My brother gave it to me for Christmas.”

The boy looked astounded. “You mean your brother gave it to you, and it didn’t cost you nothing? Boy, I wish . . .”

When he hesitated, Paul knew what the kid was going to wish. He was going to wish that he had a brother like that.

What the lad said, however, jarred Paul all the way down to his heels. “I wish,” the boy went on, “that I could be a brother like that!”

It was now Paul’s turn to be astonished and he impulsively asked, “Would you like to ride in my car?”

“Oh, yes!” said the boy. “I’d love that!”

After a short ride, the kid turned, and with eyes aglow said, “Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?”

Paul smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors that he could ride in a big automobile.

But Paul was wrong again.

“Will you stop where those two steps are?” the boy asked.

He ran up the steps. Then, in a little while, Paul heard him coming back, but he wasn’t moving very fast. He was carrying his little polio-crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car.

“There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs,” he said. “His brother gave it to him for Christmas, and it didn’t cost him a cent. And someday, I’m gonna give you one just like it. Then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I’ve been trying to tell you about.”

Paul got out and lifted the little kid onto the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride.

That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what Jesus meant when he said, “There is more happiness in giving.” (Adapted from “A Brother Like That,” found in “Illustrations Unlimited,” by James S. Hewett, editor.)

This Christmas — and every day of our lives — may we strive to be more and more like our big brother, Jesus.

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Fr. Mark Goldasich

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