I received a lovely email this week. Whilst not a regular occurrence, it does happen from time to time. The contents of the email came from a parent who was singing the praises of one of our boys in particular, but she did go on to acknowledge the wonderful presence in the community of many of our boys. The gist of the email outlined how, upon seeing her son take a fall on his scooter, this young man jumped from the car in which he was a passenger to come to his aid. This type of email is not a common occurrence and is far outweighed by emails highlighting instances when our boys are making less than favourable decisions, but it did get me to thinking.
How many like acts of decency or good go unrecognised? Probably more importantly, what is it that drives some in our community to act in this manner whilst many would choose to ignore the situation and just move on?
The first question is not an easy one to answer, as we will never know all the good that happens in this world. This is especially true given there exists a tendency in our society to only want to witness the poor behaviour that occurs and seldom take the time to see the lovely gestures that happen all around us every single day. Reporting in the media is a perfect example, as many of them are far too quick to point out the failings of an individual or an institution and very rarely highlight the positive acts or virtues.
The Catholic Church is one such institution. Some would argue rightly so, but where the media are very quick to focus on the atrocities of some individuals (deservedly I would suggest) they are nowhere near as quick to highlight the good works of the Church, for which there are many. The same can be said of our politicians and our sports stars who quickly get the often warranted condemnation of the media if they ‘stuff up’ but never seem to have their good work recognised as readily. Why is it that as a society we tend only to see the worst in people?
My second question is probably the more important of the two, as discovering what drives those in the community to regularly do the right thing is an essence worth discovering. Throughout the Gospels Jesus regularly taught about the Kingdom of God and what we needed to do to bring it about. I was reminded recently of one such teaching in the College production, Matthew 25:40-45
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Teaching our boys the art of bringing God’s kingdom to life is of the utmost importance if we are to bring our young men to their full potential. Attaining the understanding of the need to treat all people with the respect and dignity they rightfully deserve is a God send. Doing the right thing should be done not for the recognition or the accolades but just because they know it is the right thing to do. In the above example, this anonymous student went to the young boy’s aid without knowing if anyone was watching or expecting anything in return. This is a true example of what we would hope all the boys in our community would do. I often wonder if we saw Jesus in every person we encountered each day would we behave differently because it is not always easy. We meet people daily who challenge our values, who make us feel uncomfortable who are difficult to be present for but would that change if we knew they were Jesus?
My challenge is for all in the community to ponder this question and to ask ourselves what drives us to feed the hungry, to clothe the poor or to set captives free?
Mr Rob Brennan