Dec. 14, 2022
In the small book Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, an all church read for this Advent season, the wife in the book is very much committed to the church. The family goes to mass on a regular basis. The 5 daughters go to parochial school. They sing in the choir at church. They donate to the offering. Church is an important part of the family’s life.
But at one point, the husband is telling the wife about his day. And he mentions a young boy who came to him wanting to sell him some sticks; the husband is in the fuel business. He gives the boy a ride home in the pouring rain and a handful of change for the sticks. When the wife hears of this, she is a bit cold about the whole thing. “You know some of these bring the hardship on themselves?” And then “Always there’s one that has to pull the short straw.” [p. 11]
In this season we are thinking about seeking Christ. Now if Jesus came across a poor child, scrounging to keep body and soul together, can we imagine him saying, “Well, some people bring these troubles on themselves. Some just draw the short straw.” Can we imagine Jesus saying this to the man born blind, Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick, or the man possessed by demons in the cemetery? Not really. Jesus shows us that the Christ is compassionate and understanding and empathetic and sees the harm caused by society.
So, if we are truly seeking Christ, then we must expect to find ourselves becoming more compassionate, understanding, and empathetic. And we never know when we are going to need to express those qualities. We don’t know when someone will cross our path who needs to experience compassion and understanding and empathy. We many have our day planned, our to do list ordered, our game plan in place. And then in the course of things, we encounter someone, or we get a phone call, or an email, and we sense a need. Is the first thought that comes to mind, ‘Oh, well, some people just draw the short straw.’ Or, ‘It’s just too bad they brought that on themselves.’ It may be. But then we must go on from there.
When we truly seek Christ, we will find our hearts softening and our ears opening, and maybe our wallets opening, too. And that is what should happen. I’m pretty sure if Jesus had a wallet, it was empty most of the time.
Today, may we be open to sharing compassion, understanding, and empathy. May that become part of our daily routine and we seek Christ. Amen.