Sunday, May 25, 2014

You Can Change The World

This life became visible; we have seen and bear witness to it.
(He states that this is true knowledge, not faith in the unseen)
What we have seen and heard we proclaim in turn to you,
so that you may share life with us.

(His word is meant for us, together)
Our purpose in writing you this
is that our joy may be complete.
(Until all see His life, they are incomplete)
If we walk in light, as He is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another.
(We see no enemies; all are our neighbor)
-- 1 John 1: 1-10

Of late I have written words which task myself, and I believe the entire Church, to change this world.  I’ve quoted authors and studies, data which points to how we got to this place and time in our culture and the world.  And for many experts, the conclusion is that the decline in family life --- marriage families and Church families --- underlies our situation.  And further, to change this it is our purpose in living that we make a difference with our lives; that we bring our families to the relationships for which we and they exist, and reverse this decline.  We, each individually, are to change the world, one person at a time.  We are to truly love our neighbor in all our actions.
John says it in his letter, as quoted above: We are to “have fellowship with one another.”  John doesn’t just state his opinion here; he says “We have seen” and “We have heard” and “What we have seen and heard we proclaim in turn to you, so that you may share life with us." We read the words of Pope John Paul II telling us how to live:  the vocation of each individual Christian:  We must view ourselves, our life, our profession and our situation in the framework of the Church.  (This) means that in everything you do in your life by way of professional training and education and pursuit of your career must also contribute to some good God wants for the world. It seems to me that the words and directives are coming at me --- and you --- from all sides.  The Church proclaims a new focus, a “New Evangelization,” but as you see from John’s words, this isn’t new, it is just a re-newed effort, to do as Jesus told us and showed us, to love our neighbor and be at one with the Father’s will, as He is.
I had breakfast with a friend yesterday, and he couldn’t comprehend it; “The world is so big and so much needs to change,” and he wanted to talk about all the evils he perceives in the world.  In the bigness of the problem, he couldn’t see a solution, like a man tossed into the ocean who can’t see land: “What can he do?”  What the man in the ocean, my friend, and even you can do, is what you CAN do.  Start swimming, one stroke at a time.  I told my friend of Maryellen, who lives in assisted living with her husband; I described how she meets and influences the people around her.  Wherever we are at, there we are tasked to make a difference. 
When Jesus started His Church, He didn’t go to the highest place in Rome and proclaim to the whole world: “Be converted; change your hearts; love one another” --- and then work a miracle making everyone become a believer.  He is God; He could have done this.  But no, the example He gave us is that we imitate Him when we imitate His relationship with the Father, when we love, when we change our hearts, and when we help Him to change others, one person at a time.
When we love our family, our brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, grandkids and Godkids, and when we love our parish family, using who we are and what we are as tools to show our love, it is then that we ARE changing the world.  We change the world not by evangelizing to tons of strangers we never met --- you can’t love a stranger --- but we change the world when that person who crosses our path sees us, and with the grace of God, sees the Christ who lives within us.
It is not I who live, but Christ who lives within me
The priest this morning at mass said that people should look at us and see Jesus alive in us, even as they looked at the apostles and saw His presence.  The Holy Spirit came upon them; He seeks to come upon us also, if we would earnestly seek Him, if we would be open to be an instrument of His Peace.  Most Catholics have received the sacrament of Confirmation; it was given us so that we might receive the fire of Pentecost, and go forth and burn brightly in this world.
Have a relationship with God; be open to relationships with the neighbor who crosses your path, and you WILL be one of the people changing this world.
“I quit. I’m done trying to live my life, and failing. From now on, You plan.
 You show me what to do and where to go. You lead; I’ll follow. I promise.”


  1. Tom, I like the way you have whittled a huge problem into a simple basic approach to do what you can do. Just reading your view of it takes a big load off my shoulders because I tend to see the bigness of the problem and feel overwhelmed. You are right. Start swimming one stroke at a time. Looking at it that way, I can see there are many ways to make a difference in my little world: a smile to another resident who is struggling with health issues; a hand on the shoulder of another who is disappointed in the small amount of time a son or daughter spends when they visit; listening to someone's tale of woe. On and on, the opportunities to make a difference are so numerous. We only need to be aware of the need, and then do what we CAN.

    I agree with your recommendation: 'have a relationship with God, and be open to relationships with the neighbor who crosses your path, and you will be one ot the people changing this world. '

    Thank you for simplifying that for me, and for being a light in my journey.

    1. You see it, Maryellen. Only you missed stating your obvious opportunity to change this world: it is in your relationship with your husband, Clinton. No one will ever love him as you do; no one will ever care as much. Once you wrote me a note on the efforts you take to communicate with him; I often give it to people who come to the monthly support group meetings, scared with the gradual losing their loved one. They see your words and understand it is not totally about his mind going away, it is also about theirs being willing to travel part way with him, living within his limitations --- changing his world.

  2. I never thought of it that way, Tom. I thought I was just being a wife (helpmate), but you are right, I am changing his world and I know its for the better. I'm so grateful that we can live together here. It's truly a gift. God is so good to us.