by Father Mark Goldasich
When this paper arrives in your mailbox, it will be the season of fall.
Are you kidding me? What happened to the rest of 2017? I really can’t complain, though, because I do enjoy this time of year. I like the crispness in the air and the stark silhouettes of trees and buildings as the sun sets. I’m no stranger, either, to crunching into a crisp caramel apple and savoring some apple cider.
What I most look forward to, however, is the leaves changing colors. There’s something so comforting about that last burst of colorful beauty before the howling winds and snows of winter. Those leaves truly brighten my outlook.
Lately, I’ve heard a good number of people talk about how “dark” the world feels. The news seems so distressing with threats of war, natural disasters, horrific accidents, violence against persons . . . and the list could go on.
As Christians, we’re certainly called to feel the sorrows of the world, yet we can’t give in to hopelessness. We’re called, like autumn leaves, to brighten every corner of the world with the good news that we’re privileged to have in Jesus.
This story makes this point well:
A man built a prosperous business through hard work and honest dealings. As he got older, he felt concerned about the future of his enterprise because he had no children or close relatives, except for three nephews.
One day, he summoned the young men and declared, “I have a problem, and whoever comes up with the best solution will inherit all that I possess.”
Giving each of them an equal amount of money, he told them to buy something that would fill his large office. “Spend no more than I’ve given you,” he directed, “and be sure you are back by sunset.”
All day long, each nephew attempted separately to fulfill his uncle’s instructions. Finally, when the shadows began to lengthen, they returned to make their report. Their uncle was eager to see their purchases.
The first dragged in a few huge sacks of packing peanuts that nearly filled the office when the sacks were emptied. After the room was cleared, the second nephew brought in bundles and bundles of helium-filled balloons that floated throughout the office, filling it better than the peanuts.
The third nephew stood silent and forlorn. His uncle asked him, “So what have you to offer?”
“Uncle,” replied the nephew, “I spent half of my money to help a family whose house burned down last night. Then I ran into some kids in trouble and gave most of the rest to an inner-city youth center. With the little bit I had left, I bought this candle and matches.” Then he lit the candle and its glowing light filled every corner of the room.
The kindly old uncle realized that here was the noblest of his family. He blessed the nephew for making the best use of his gift and welcomed him into his business. (Found in “Sower’s Seeds That Nurture Family Values (Sixth Planting),” by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR.)
How would you go about filling the world with Christ’s light? An organization that I’ve supported since my ordination is The Christophers, founded by Maryknoll Father James Keller. Its motto is: “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
Its mission statement clarifies how this is done: “Love and truth come to us through God, but these gifts are not ours to keep. By sharing them with others, each of us becomes a Christ-bearer, a “Christopher,” in the most fundamental sense of that word.
“It is through literature, broadcasts, awards and leadership courses that we at The Christophers work toward our mission: bringing positive and constructive values into the mainstream of life.”
As we enter into the final quarter of 2017, maybe we could all become a Christopher toward those in our social, work, school and church communities. Father James offered these 10 reminders for how exactly to do that effectively:
- Depend more on God, less on self.
- Share the truth, don’t hoard it.
- Be world-minded, not just local-minded.
- Go among people, don’t avoid them.
- Push on, don’t stand still.
- Aim to serve, not to be served.
- Be gentle, don’t hurt.
- Submit ideas, don’t impose them.
- Better to be optimistic than pessimistic.
- Cheer, don’t depress.
If we put into practice even a few of these simple reminders, we’ll show our true colors. And what a wonderful world it will be.