Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Making a Difference

An Unexpected Homemade Christmas Gift
There is virtue, I suppose, in doing something only because I must, not because I get something out of it.  Certain seasons, however, bring with them temptations to shirk one's responsibilities.  Advent and Lent, for instance, are the seasons during which parishes typically host communal reconciliation services.  Though I like hearing confessions, I really do not like these events.  They seem to foster the sentiment that confession is a simply a semi-annual event for which the faithful ought to save up their sins, and I dread listening to the droning homilies of my brothers as we go through the Liturgy of the Word at the beginning of each service.  Moreover, with the multitudes of penitents at these services, one becomes tempted, during regularly scheduled confession times, to sneak out a little early.  What difference will five minutes make?

In the last couple of weeks, five minutes would have made all the difference in the world.  On two separate occasions penitents came to the confessional after decades away.  Had I left early, and they found the confessional empty, they would likely not have come back.  I was there.  I freed them of their sins.  I made a difference.

Similarly, I went to the hospital to visit the mother of one of our RCIA candidates.  The daughter plans to join the Church at Easter.  Until my visit, her mother had no religious affiliation.  She is dying.  I offered that she could be fully initiated into the Church, receive the sacraments and be prepared to meet the Lord.  She accepted.  She is now a Catholic, and when she dies she will go to meet her maker having been fully prepared with every grace the Church can offer her.  She will receive a Catholic burial, even as her daughter still toils away in RCIA classes.  I made a difference.  

Perhaps most notably, this season, though, has been a young man with whom I am acquainted.  I am not sure what I did for him.  I just get a kick out of him.  A few days ago he brought me a gift he had made: a handmade pottery pitcher that his mother told me he had been working on for months.  It is beautiful, and the detail is painstaking.  The gift was unexpected, and to my mind undeserved, and yet, he gave it.  Apparently I made a difference.

In truth, though, it was not I who made the difference.  In each of these cases, it was Christ.  He, for reasons unknown to me, chose me to be a vehicle through whom He would work in the world.  All I have to do is get my own bumbling humanity out of the way and obey Him whose I have been made - to be there when I say I will be there - and Christ will minister to the hearts of His people.  And that makes all the difference.   

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