In our small, mostly rural diocese, we have some people leading truly extraordinary lives. They’re literally making a difference here in the diocese, the region, the country and all over the world. Most of the people go about their lives without thinking about how remarkable they are, what a tremendous difference they are making in someone else’s life, and often they have learned the lessons of sharing, of working for justice and hope in their homes, their Catholic schools or their parish religious education classes.
Since they were nurtured by other remarkable people, it is no wonder that they too are now making these uncommon journeys themselves.
While “the power of positive thinking” sounds so cliché, it’s actually true. These days when life seems somewhat chaotic on the national stage, opening the door to negative rhetoric, name calling and worse, being positive in speech and action is all the harder. We’re certainly not giving the world or the next generation for that matter a very good example to follow.
Why is it so much easier to be negative, to spout vitriol and maintain an attitude of defiance than to look for ways to celebrate the goodness of others outside the pews on the weekends? I have no easy answer, and following the Gospel message is not so easy all the time. When we reach out to the poor, offering assistance, we are sometimes rebuffed or possibly not showered with gratitude for our largesse. Shame on us for looking for validation just for doing what we have been called by baptism to do.
I met Katie Robben, 27, last week when she was on a 10-day home visit from Uganda where she is volunteering to teach English and math to children in a village there. Back for a visit, she wanted to share her experiences with her former students at St. Dominic in Breese. They were spellbound by her story. I was more amazed by her complete trust that this was what God wanted her to do. How many young adults pray for guidance and then recognize and follow it? I have a feeling we have more inspiring young folks than we think. (Katie’s blog: https://letusmovemountains.com)
What we need to do is follow the message I saw on the back of an elderly man’s T-shirt as he jogged by me: “Look for a miracle every day.” We may be looking but we’re not seeing what’s happening each day. We see the negatives because they clamber for attention, and they get it. The miracles happen because someone nurtured them in another, because God works in our lives every day even if we can’t quite notice it.
We can’t give in to the negative; we have to push for the positive not only because it’s healthier for us but it’s also the right thing to do. We hear the Word of God in Scripture, but it should not be passive, something to wash over us in the church pew. It should be a rallying cry to go out into the world and change it as we bring the kingdom of God into focus, being instruments of change, of kindness and of joy in the lives of others so that it can come back to us at least a hundred fold.