Making a Difference

A couple times a month I log into my Facebook account to “catch up” with friendly acquaintances around the neighborhood and around the world.  Last Monday, right after reading through this weekend’s scriptures for the first time, I came across the following quote from Katrina Mayer on a friend’s wall:

 At the end of the day,

the only questions I will ask myself are…

Did I love enough?

Did I laugh enough?

Did I made a difference?

 While not necessarily coming from an explicitly Christian framework, the quote seems to resonate with a central theme of both our first scripture from the Book of Daniel (12:1-3) and our third, the gospel reading from Mark (13:24-32).  Both readings speak dramatically to the point of finality, that ultimately the journey of life comes full circle for all of us; and there is an implied reckoning that accompanies that culmination.

When we reach the end of the liturgical year there is a sudden darkening of tone in our scriptures and prayers as the Church is careful to remind us of “last things.”  While it is possible to see this shift as being gloomy or foreboding, it is perhaps more worthwhile to take the attitude represented by the quote presented above, which suggests that not only at the end of the twelve-month liturgical cycle but really at the end of each day, we should take some time to review our lives.

The first question, “Did I love enough?” is truly a loaded question.  Often in popular culture a sentimental or overly romanticized understanding of the word “love” is emphasized.  Clearly the gospel understanding of this term is very different, and includes an understanding of “love” as a pouring out of self in sacrificial, loving service.

The second question, “Did I laugh enough?” seems very important for all of us who tend to take ourselves too seriously.  The ability to laugh joyfully is the ability to see the big picture, and not see the world as revolving around ourselves.  Laughter can be a way of sharing our joy with others; not spreading mere happiness which can be here one day and gone the next, but sharing the joy that comes from knowing that we are right with whatever God’s plan is for us, and in synch with what God’s grace is doing in us.

The third question, “Did I make a difference?” is perhaps the most challenging of the three.  We could approach this question from the wrong direction and think that making a difference means that our names might be remembered hundreds of years from now for some important invention, accomplishment or victory.  The statistical reality is that only an extremely tiny percentage of people are remembered in that sense a couple hundred years after their death.  Actually the question “Did I make a difference?” goes very much to our understanding of the incredible dignity of the human person, and that any act of kindness, compassion or love has a transcendent, lasting value.  Any time we love selflessly and laugh joyfully we indeed make a difference in those around us.

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