To the world, you are but one. But, to the ONE, you are the World!
I may have heard this saying before, but the first time that it “stuck in my head” was about six years ago — our Charter Schools in Lake Charles were partnering with a school in Haiti. A representative of the school spoke to our faculty — and he used the expression. In other words, to the whole world, we were JUST helping one school in a remote village. To the world, we were barely making a little dent in solving the problems of education in the poorest, of the poorest, parts of the world. BUT, to that particular school, We were a life-line, we were the world. Our school supplies of pencils, paper, crayons, books —- our uniforms —- were making a HUGE difference in their world. AND THEN, when our teachers came to Haiti to meet with them —- we were the world — to them.
The problems of the world are H-U-G-E! Refugees are in camps everywhere! Syria lies in ruins. Iraq seems like a hopeless pit swallowing money, hopes, and dreams. Immigrants to our country are being deported. Schools in too many cities are in decay. Nursing homes all across our country are more and more seeming to be “hell holes”. Hurricane victims are fighting with insurance companies and the government. Everyday reveals new accusations of inappropriate behavior in Hollywood, Washington, and State Houses.
It is so easy to be overwhelmed and to feel depressed —-there is just too much to be done; there are too many problems bombarding me; there are too many people asking for [needing] help. Yep, that is true ….. we cannot meet the needs of everyone, we cannot help everyone who needs help. AND, at the same time, we can do something — we can help someone.
This weekend’s Gospel [Matthew 25:31-46] on this FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING clearly tells us what God is asking us to do — what God is expecting us to do —
to give food to the hungry
to give drink to the thirsty
to welcome the stranger
to clothe the naked
to visit the imprisoned
Not all the hungry — not all the thirsty — not every stranger — not all who are naked — not to all the imprisoned — but to at least one in need.
In JUDGMENT, the King separates the sheep and the goats — the saved and unsaved —
NOT by whether they take communion in the hand or on the tongue, kneeling or standing — OR EVEN IF THEY TAKE COMMUNION ….
NOT by whether they are straight or gay or bisexual or transgender — or asexual —
NOT by whether they or Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jew, or whether they go to Church or not ….
NOT by whether they are Democrat, Republican, Communist, or a community drop-out …
BUT — the STANDARD OF JUDGMENT– is what a person does for those in need. The standard is about putting our concern — our care — into practice.
We show our allegiance to CHRIST THE KING not by singing an anthem, not by reciting a creed, not by saluting a flag — our allegiance to JESUS AS OUR KING —- is proven by the help we extend to our brothers and sisters in need.
Too many of us Americans live a bit too smug …. we pay the most taxes in the world. NOT TRUE.
We have to deal with more illegal immigrants than anyone else in the world. NOT TRUE.
Our country is going to “hell in a handbasket.” NOT TRUE.
My recent trip to Italy showed me a country dealing with immigrants who arrive daily by boat — from Syria, Libya, Greece, — places of war, suffering, deprivation a few miles from the shores of Italy.
So —- what do we do?
1. First be informed — know about the Rohingya people — who are Muslims — who are fleeing from Myanmar where they are being oppressed by the Buddhist majority. Know about the 600,000 Rohingya people who are refugees in Bangladesh —– an already poor nation expected to protect these people in need. 600,000 HUMAN BEINGS leaving their burned out villages hoping simply to escape death.
We may not be able to help one of these men, women, or children —– but we can be aware of what is happening outside our borders — yes, we deal with security issues, and others hope to live another day.
A small gift to Catholic Relief Services or some other reputable relief agency will make a huge difference to those in need.
2. Can’t feed everyone — but, we can make an offering to our food banks, meal preparation programs, or to SOME FAMILY we personally know who would find a $25 gift card to a grocery store to be like $100 to us.
3. Make plans to provide clothing to a child or a family in need as Christmas time approaches. TV stations, Civic groups, the Salvation Army — are all looking for financial donations as well as donations of NEW clothing for those in need. Make this Christmas be about ME PLUS ONE — my FAMILY PLUS ONE.
4. Don’t know anyone in prison — learn about prison reform — restorative justice. Contribute to prison re-entry programs in the community. Be willing to hire someone who has been incarcerated. Look beyond the tattoos to see the person.
Someone has a car accident — not their fault — but, they end up having to pay for the damage. Their insurance has a $250 deductible — they do not have $250. If this were me—- or most of us —- no problem, we write a check. Some people do not have $250 in the bank to write a check. Can I help them in some way? Of course —
5. Some starts a GO FUND ME PAGE to help medical bills — $25 makes the burden lighter.
As KING, Jesus is not someone enforcing liturgical purity — musical propriety — or political views —- Jesus is about concern, about compassion, about welcome —- Jesus is about HIS people living together in harmony despite differences.
Jesus is about bridges that unite people and not walls that separate people. Jesus is about access to health care, education, and safety from predators.
No —- I cannot help everyone —- I cannot address all problems. I CAN find my passion, what tugs at my heart — my neighbor in need — and to do SOMETHING, not everything.
To the world ——- I am but one —— but, to the ONE, I am the WORLD.