Reprinted with Permission
Have you ever been around people who always talk about the past as if it were golden in comparison to now? They tend to whine or mope around wishing it were the past. They lack joy, they sow seeds of negativity and they tend to make those around them miserable.
Now Future-seekers don’t mind living in the moment as long as they see a possibility of a better future. Thy help us anticipate the future with joy. They sow seeds of positivity and they make those around them hopeful. So, which are we: people who look back or look ahead?
The author of Habits of the Heart would say the difference lies in having or not having a defined Mission. We heard Christ’s today, and his disciples changed the world living it out. If we don’t have a personal Mission Statement, then we must ask ourselves, “How do we want to be remembered when we die? What difference do we want to have made for having lived?” By answering these questions, we can then come up with a personal Mission Statement which will motivate us to live as heroes or a she-roes in the world.
We all need to learn that the past is to learn from. Applying St. Ignatius’ Principle and Foundation, which states that to the extent all that is created around us helps us come into communion with God, we keep it and use it. To the extent all this leads us away from God, we leave it behind. So, the past is to learn from. What in the past makes us happy and leads us to God? Take that and keep it in the now, in the present. What led us away from God? Never embrace it again!
What’s the best future imaginable? Take the steps that lead us to that end. If we want to make a difference for having lived, learn from the past and imagine the future we seek, and then, put the best of these into our present moments. True Christians make a difference by knowing who they are, whose they are, and for whom they are here to serve.
True-Catholic Christians don’t mope or whine. They are positive and hopeful. False-Catholics mope and whine and are always negative. They don’t live as if they belong to Christ and are called to serve all God’s children. True-Catholics live joyfully in the present, having learned from the past, and joyfully anticipate an even better future. A false-Catholic lives out the adage that misery loves company.
Jesus shared his Mission Statement, which was the same one that his hero, Isaiah, had: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he anointed me to bring Good News to the poor, to free the captives, return sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed and declare the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Is 61 & Luke 4) Mine is: “He made a difference.” What is yours?
Robert Bellah says that we can change the world if we but get 2% of the population to buy into a new direction. I’ve been blessed to have worked in 2 parishes that bought into their revised Mission Statements and thus, made a difference to their growing parishes and their local communities, which in turn, got the communities to look at their way of proceeding and make the changes needed to provide for their people.
Jesus told his people that the words of Isaiah were being fulfilled in their hearing. There could be no greater news than that, for that meant that the Messiah was among them. We all know that they would eventually run him out of town, but for us, who have benefited from passing on to the disciples his truth, we know better and are called to live out our own personal anointing for the good of all on this earth.
Jesus revealed the glory of the Lord and it is ours to choose to be people who mope or to hope. Do we have faith, or do we have simply a set of beliefs? Faith, like Communion, is a noun AND a verb. We were anointed to hew hope from despair, to harmonize using the various gifts and voices Paul speaks about in the Body of Christ. May we commune with God and leave here as apostles sent to sow seeds of hope.
About Fr. Eddie: Eduardo Samaniego, S.J. is an Associate Director of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange, California. Beginning in Summer 2019, he will be the Director of the Diaconate for the Diocese of San Bernadino and San Diego. Fr. Eddie publishes homilies for Sundays and major liturgical celebrations on his website, If You Preach It, They Will Come.