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Bible Reflections View Comments

One Size Fits All?
By Kathleen M. Carroll
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012
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A large shoe-manufacturing company, hoping to expand its market even further, sent a scout to tour the developing world. She returned enthusiastic about one mountaintop village. “There are no roads in the town. The paths are steep and rough and they
walk everywhere. They wear shoes made of tree bark and they all complain bitterly about them, but I don’t think they’ve ever so much as seen a sneaker. We can’t miss!”

Trusting this report, the company spent thousands on advertising in the town. There were full-color ads featuring their celebrity basketball player/spokesman in the tiny town newspaper; billboards were erected with their slogan, “Jump Higher!”They even arranged a town square show with a giant-screen television running a loop of the basketball playoffs in which their shoes had made such a decisive difference. All for nought: After a month, they hadn’t sold a single pair.

As the company packed up its resources in defeat, the newly unemployed market scout met with the village elders. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Why didn’t anyone want to buy
our shoes?” Apologetically, the elders answered, “Your shoe is for playing basketball; we need one for fetching water.”

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus, hoping to serve the needs of his closest disciples, leaves a huge crowd and its demands and needs on one shore, only to find them again on the other. He realizes that the crowd’s need is as great as that of his disciples, perhaps moreso.

A similar event has doubtless happened to us all. At our best moments, we try to fulfill our Christian vocation by imitating the saints: We resolve to help feed the hungry in some remote town, or perhaps we fill our schedule with volunteering at a soup kitchen, a crisis hotline, a parish bake sale. We leave the mundane concerns of our lives for more “glamorous” opportunities, only to find they await us again on that distant shore—we come
home to neglected family members, some unfinished household chores, a dog that needs to be walked.

Just as not every shoe fits every purpose, sanctity is unique in each human life. “Feeding the hungry” is one of the corporal works of mercy, but it has a different appearance in the work of a feeding center director, a cafeteria “lunch lady,” or an animal shelter volunteer.
Barring neighborhood pirates, it is still possible to “ransom the captive” by referring a friend to a substance abuse program, or a debt-counseling service. “Clothing the naked” can mean running a clothing drive, but it can also mean doing the laundry.

The Gospel is one-size-fits-all, but we must tailor its message to the circumstances of our lives and to those in our lives who need to hear it. It may be that we cannot convert a nation to Christ, but it may also be that only we can speak a word of encouragement to a lonely neighbor, a troubled teen, a family member with whom we’ve argued.

We have had the great fortune to find Christ in the middle of this ordinary life. Let’s find a way to share him with those he can touch in no other way.


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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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