A couple of weeks ago, I had to get to the St. Paul campus of St. Thomas University to speak at an evening program. As I knew my friend and colleague Mark Osler also had an evening event on that campus, I asked him for a ride. His response was “Sure, so long as I don’t forget.” To ensure that he didn’t, I grabbed a post-it, wrote a note on it, and stuck it on the outside of his door. When I pointed it out to Mark, he promptly moved it to the inside of the door, reasoning he was more likely to see it there.
Here is the note I wrote:
I was able to photograph it because two weeks later and the note is still on the inside of Mark’s office door. And he has decided to leave it there. It is a good reminder he says, and he is right.
Not a reminder to give me a ride – although it did serve that purpose the evening I wrote it. In the larger scheme of things, however, that was pretty unimportant; if Mark had forgotten me, I would have taken a shuttle door-to-door and been no worse for it (save losing some good conversation with Mark on the ride to St. Paul).
But a reminder that it is cold out there. And that there are many people who are homeless and lack a place to sleep at night. Or who lack warm enough clothing to keep out the cold winds. Or who have a place to sleep, but no heat in their building.
It is all too easy to forget about them. It is good to be reminded not to.
It is cold out there. Don’t forget about the people who need our help.
I just finished reading Rev. Jacques Philippe’s Interior Freedom, a gem of a book which I mentioned in a post the other day. It is a slim volume and offers much fruit for reflection about what it means to live in the true freedom which which God calls each of us.
Late in the book Philippe talks about learning to love, which he describes as “learning to give freely and receive freely.” Neither is all that easy for us. Giving without expectation of return, without a motive of self-gratification, is something we have to work at. Likewise receiving not as reward or as something due, but with open heart and trust, requires humility.
We commit a fault against this free giving and receiving, in our relationship with God or with other people, every time we make the good we’ve done into an excuse for claiming a right, demanding gratitude or recompense. But we also do that more subtly every time we are afraid of not receiving love due to this or that limitation or personal shortcoming. Jesus in the Gospel does all he can to destroy this way of thinking. We find it hard to accept this reversal of our values, but we will never find happiness without it.
Philippe describes Kingdom as
the world where love is the only law, a paradise of free giving and free receiving. Here are no more “rights” and “duties,” nothing to defend or earn, no more opposition between “yours” and “mine.” Here the heart can expand infinitely.
Whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “Thy Kingdom come.” Let’s pray that more actively, by working on freely giving and receiving (the second of which, for many of us, may be harder than the first).