Last spring on my way to our Senior Prom, a pigeon pooped on my head. It landed right at the hairline on my forehead. After a few minutes of stunned disbelief, reality kicked in and I had to decide whether to return to the convent to clean up or continue to the Prom. As the principal of the school hosting the Prom, I had to decide if this unfortunate event would stop me from enjoying the best part of the evening – introductions of the dates. Fortunately the dropping was easy to clean off so it didn’t stop me from getting to the prom on time.
What kinds of activities prevent us from following Jesus on a daily basis? Remember when Jesus invited the men to follow him in chapter 9 of Luke’s Gospel? “Jesus said, ‘Follow me.'” But [the man] replied, “Let me go first and bury my father.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” In both cases, Jesus admonishes them not to let anything get in the way of following him. Every single day there are events that distract us from following Christ. Here are a few to consider:
Are we too busy to follow Christ…to reach out to those in need? In his book, Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes a study of seminarians to determine if being predisposed to doing good contributes to their actually doing a good deed. They were directed to prepare a short presentation on a biblical theme including the parable of the Good Samaritan and go to another building to present it. Some of the students were told they were late and others that they had plenty of time. On the way to the other building, they passed what appeared to be a homeless person moaning in pain. The researchers found that students in a hurry were much less likely to help the person in distress than those with more time even among those who studied the Good Samaritan parable. Most of us are very busy, but are we too busy to help a person in need?
Does Jesus have enough help and doesn’t need yours? Gladwell also describes a phenomenon in which people will not help others because they think someone else is going to help. Do you ever think “I don’t have to do anything; tons of people are going to help?”
Does fear stop you from helping others? Marianne Williamson writes “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Right! If I follow Jesus once…if I help someone once, I will have to do it all the time. I will have to become a better person. This can be terrifying.
So day after day, we are invited to follow Christ through how we treat others. We might be tempted to turn away from the opportunity like I could have done after my pigeon poop experience. Or we can wipe off our poop – hurriedness, someone else will do it, or fear – and reach out to others, following Jesus.
Marianne Williamson. A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”, Ch. 7, Section 3 (1992), p. 19
Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point. Little, Brown & Co. (2000).