We all want to make a difference. We want our lives to matter. We want to mean something to those we come in contact with. And what we really want is for our efforts to make a difference that is more then ephemeral, one that will last. At the end of our teen masses we often sing a sing that instructs us to “Go make a difference in the world.”
The real question is what does it mean to make a difference? Often our actions seem very small in light of large problems. Will the check I wrote to Doctors Without Borders make a differerence given the level of devastation in Haiti? Will the pre-natal vitamins my friend Richard distributed when he traveled to that same country last year to do some work in health clinics make a differnence in the lives of the children whose mothers took those vitamins?
Other times, the kind of work we do makes is hard to assess whether we made any lasting difference. Will taking my class make a difference in the lives of my law students? Will the talk I gave to some high school confirmation students have any lasting effect on their lives? Who can say.
And the reality is that most of the time, we can’t really know if we made a difference and that may be something we just have to accept. That the best we can do is be true to our Gospel call; in the words of the song we sing at the end of the teen Mass: “to let the people see the love of God in you and me…[to be] the hands of Christ reaching out to those in need…the spirit of hope…the voice of peace.” And to trust that we and those with whom we come in contact will be transformed by the encounter.