Once my little curious eyes caught a very intriguing calendar. When I started to observe its minutest details I realized that this was an action geared calendar.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) used to say: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. But change does not occur in a vacuum. Changes is brought about by fruitful and constructive actions that bring about a brighter future which obviously has its basis within the present moment. Seen from this perspective, it made sense to me what Roy T. Bennett, the famous thought leader, wrote in his book The Light in the Heart: “Don’t just learn, experience. Don’t
just read, absorb. Don’t just change, transform. Don’t just relate, advocate. Don’t just promise, prove. Don’t just criticize, encourage. Don’t just think, ponder. Don’t just take, give. Don’t just see, feel. Don’t just dream, do. Don’t just hear, listen. Don’t just talk, act. Don’t just tell, show. Don’t just exist, live.”
It is really interesting that Jesus, the Son of God Incarnate, showed us in his teaching that performing fruitful actions by obeying God’s Word is like building a house on the rock. On the other hand, not engaging his life-giving Word means simply heading towards destruction simply because one chooses the wrong actions.
Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it (Matt 7:24-27).
But Jesus goes even a step immensely further than this. Within the same gospel He also says that actions are so powerful that they can even determine one’s eternal destiny, be it that of eternal heavenly glory or eternal damnation.
Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’
Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matt 25:32-46).
The American historian and author from Worcester, Massachusetts, Alice Morse Earle (1851 –1911), said: “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day”. Having said that, and since life is a mystery to be lived and not a problem to solved, each day presents to us an opportunity, on a golden plate to use our earthly time in the best of possibilities. Thus, the calendar I saw tangibly shows how we can light that little light amid the darkness we find around us.
For example, on day one, decide to look for what’s good every day presents to you during this month. On day two do three things to bring joy to other people that day. In the following day re-frame a worry and try to find a positive way to respond to it. On day four, thank someone for the joy they have brought into your life. Day five invites you to do something on that day which you know will make others feel good and, after all, you yourself. On day six you can ask someone what brings them joy and take time to listen to their answer. Day seven encourages you to make a plan with friends to do something fun together. Whereas day eight helps you to find the joy in music by singing, playing, dancing or listening. Day ten is really motivitating since it exhorts you to write a gratitude letter to thank someone for what they did. And day twelve triggers you to spread joy by giving flowers or help brighten someone’s day.
As the list goes on the golden thread within these actions is that of going out of oneself and serve the others, particulary those who are suffering in silence. In his apostolic letter on the call to holiness in today’s world, Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis gives a very concrete example of how serving others opens us up for the Spirit of holiness:
“This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbour and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts. But she says in her heart: ‘No, I will not speak badly of anyone’. This is a step forward in holiness. Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love. That is another sacrifice that brings holiness. Later she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness. Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him. One more step” (nro. 16).
Why not planing my days to serve Jesus in those who need my help? Is this not the wisest way to live happily and thrivingly?
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap