This past week I attended a lecture which featured the Executive Director of the Catholic Charities of Baltimore. It was eye-opening regarding the needs of our community but it was more inspirational regarding the kindness of others.
Once again I am struck with the goodness of people. Yes, I know that overall we are sinful creatures but I cannot help but think that we are also longing to be the people that God has called us to be. We are waiting for opportunities to be effective. There are so many people who are generous with their time, talents and money. The stories in the Catholic Charities are not unique to them. I hear them time and time again from so many wonderful non-profit organizations.
Interestingly that this week the story of the loaves and fishes was in my daily Bible read. As the story goes, the day was late, evening was coming and the large crowd that had gathered throughout the day to hear Jesus preach were still there. It was time for people to eat but as they had gathered in a remote place there were no fast food joints, no take-away places, no ready made food anywhere. The only thing available was the donation of five loaves and two fishes from a boy whose mother probably wanted to ensure that her son had food for his day out. The boy readily shared what little he had with the disciples. Jesus took that small amount, blessed it and it became large- adequate to feed the thousands of attendees with even twelve baskets of left-overs.
Little becomes much when we are willing to share what we have with others. The theme for the Catholic Charities video is the power of one. It refers to the story of the young girl moving stranded starfish one by one back to the sea. An old man watches her for a while and says, "Little girl, why are you going to such trouble to move the starfish. There are so many of them, what difference can you make?" The little girl didn't reply right away as she was in the middle of returning one starfish to the sea. When she had finished, she turned to the old man, "Well, I made a difference to that one."
What difference can we make to those around us? To our family, our friends, our neighbors, or the stranger down the street? I know many times I wonder what do I have to offer? I am not rich, nor influential, nor talented, but I have a willing and generally compassionate heart. I think that one of the reasons community however you want to define it, is so important is that through our collective gathering of resources and wills we can produce change and make a difference to others. One person's small portion might not affect any large amount of change but when all the portions are put together much can happen. And that willingness of heart of one person can affect others and their willingness to help. Creating positive "peer pressure" so to speak. For when one person does something it can encourage others to think, "Gosh, if he can do that, I can certainly do that as well."
What difference can I make? I can only offer my small "loaves and fishes" portion and believe that in the hands of the Master, little will become much in the lives of others. The power of one- multiplied.