“For life is a gift we receive only when we give ourselves away…”
Usually, I tend to view "reacting" as a bad thing. "Proactive" good, "reactive" bad. Leaders initiate. Leaders make things happen. While at my weekly men’s Gospel study this week and reviewing Sunday’s Gospel, I was feeling pretty good about my proactive Catholic leadership. After all, last week I valiantly corralled all four children to help with the Thanksgiving food drive at the parish. We sorted and bagged without major catastrophe. I encouraged friends to help on social media. I signed up for more action this weekend. That’s got to put me in "sheep" category vs. the "goat" division right? Organizing food for the poor…with kids in toe…sans the multi-tasking wife, that is some Gospel-worthy, righteous stuff! During the Gospel study, I wondered aloud why the righteous ones in Jesus’ revelatory tale were surprised when Christ the King affirmed them for their service. After all, leaders make things happen. They visited the sick and imprisoned, clothed the naked. Of course they were in the sheep line.
Toward the end of the week, I was going through my mail in the office and noticed among my large stack of catalogs and requests for signatures that one of our CLI solicitation appeals had been returned to me, not with a donation, but a handwritten note asking for a grocery gift card. "I can’t pay my medical bills and I need food," the person wrote. Without a thought, I tossed it in my recycling bin along with all the other things that didn’t need my attention. As I sat back down at my computer, this Sunday’s Gospel was still up on the screen from the night before. Suddenly it hit me. It wasn’t the actions that the righteous ones in the Gospel initiated that made them righteous. It was what they received, and how they reacted to what was brought to them that most moved Christ. The kids and I could’ve made a thousand Thanksgiving bags, but the one request for food that comes directly to me, I tossed in the garbage without even a thought. Move over goats, there’s a new sheriff in town. I reached into the bin and noticed the person left her address and number. In my life and leadership, I may initiate lots of things, but how do I make room for the appointments the Lord sets up? Christ the King isn’t worried so much about the plans I want to make happen but how open I am to what He has in store for me. As we get ready to begin Advent, let’s ensure we are ready not only for the good we feel called to do, but more importantly, the good that we are called upon to do when we least expect it. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!