September 19, 2019

Get a Life!

We all must have heard the phrase, popular years ago: “get a life!” It was said to people who were reclusive; who did not like to or could not socialize; had few or no friends and who were virtually unknown. In that context, acquaintances, friends, level of education, job connections and relationships, interests, hobbies, willingness or unwillingness to having social exposure can give us an idea of the significance of our life, thesizeof “our world.”

The template of the Word that God wishes to do onto us and with us, today, helps us place trustingly our life and “our little world” within the majestic, glorious, breathtaking plan of God described in St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. Christ, the risen Lord, is the hub and center of this Plan.

He (God) chose us in him (Christ), before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. (cf. Ephesians 1:4)

I have meditated several times on this magnificent passage from Ephesians myself; and I have always felt a sense of total loss of proportion and measure as, each time, I was forced to accept the fact that my life and my little world are indeed in Christ, yet without being “lost.” I am sure that you would have the same sense of insignificance if you stop and contemplate this mystery.

Why don’t we start by considering the number of people presently living on the face of the earth? We are past the 7.6 billion mark. Now, let us add those countless billions who lived before us and who will be born after we are gone; they were and will all be called to place their life and their little world into this Plan with Christ as its center. We shall, then, compare our life to the almost infiniteness of the universe with its stars within numberless galaxies.

Well: not only does God choose us within this infiniteness, cares for each one of us, talks to us, guides us, comforts us, but he knows every thought that ever crossed our mind, feels every emotions that we ever felt and keeps an accurate count of each strand of hair on our head! It is simply mind-blowing, yet so true, so comforting, so reassuring.

Next, we must make another due comparison. It is a comparison imposed on us, relentlessly, by the world which is opposed, by choice, to Christ and the Father’s Plan. You see: the world, too, has its plan. It is a rather small world by design or, more accurately, dictated by hubris, arrogance and selfishness. Only the powerful, the glitterati, the glamorous, the famous, the wealthy, the lucky and the callous ones belong to it.

It is also a cruel world: those out of luck, the clout-less, the poor, the sick, the deformed, the exploited, those lacking whatever the world considers important, the feeble and the unfit need not apply. At best, they become useful as the recipients of temporary attention and for photo ops to enhance the greatness and the exposure of the famous or, of course, for political plans.

God’s plan, instead, includes every single member of the human family however small, however insignificant and however flawed in the eyes of the world. It includes those erased by abortion, the marginalized, those who are a burden to society, the useless, the terminally ill, those declared to be in a vegetative state (how inaccurate this term), those who should have died a long time ago. I told you that it is a cruel world!

On the other hand, how awesome, how different, how truly loving our God is!

In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ (ibidem 1:5).

And, on account of that, we have a legitimate claim to an eternal, glorious inheritance and find meaning in even the smallest endeavors of our daily life. You see: chances are that we will go through our life without or with minimum media exposure. Not counting the charitable organizations that keep sending us requests for donations, the first time our name could get printed might be our obituary; it will be our last time too.

It doesn’t matter. In Christ we are assured live, continuous, uninterrupted coverage of our every sigh, of our every wish and wandering and prayer and longing (cf. Psalm 56: 9). Every single one of our tears, every drop of our sweat, every moment of a grinding routine, every worry gnawing away at our peace of mind, even our embarrassing situations, our health  issues, our setbacks along, of course, with our laughter, our fun times, our successes and accomplishments are kept and treasured by our God—in Christ.

This is a thought that must reshape our outlook on life in a radical way. This is what happened to the prophet Amos: whether he was dressing sycamores, tending sheep or being confronted by hostile, powerful people, he remained free and thus powerful and effective in virtue of the power and the effectiveness that God gives his people who know, at gut level, that they belong to this Plan.

The same type of freedom Jesus expects of every single one of us as we are chosen to continue the mission of the Twelve, preach the Kingdom with our lives and unleash the Gospel, at least, in the area where we live. If we embrace this refreshingly new outlook, not only we won’t need all that the world tries to convince us that we must have, but we would dare the nearly impossible counting on the constant and detailed care of our heavenly Father in Christ Jesus.

Thus, the path to genuine freedom and the effectiveness of our assignment begin with awareness that our life is always in Christ and that it should be endowed with the good habit of surrendering itself, again and again, into the hands of the Father.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin

REVEREND DINO VANIN, PIME was born in Cendon di Silea, Province of Treviso, Italy in 1946. He entered the PIME Seminary at Treviso at the tender age of eleven. He came to the U.S. in 1968, studying Theology at Darlington Major Seminary in New Jersey. He has an MA in Secondary School Administration from Seton Hall University. Ordained in 1972, he served as an administrator, teacher, rector and principal at the PIME High School Seminary in Newark, Ohio before being sent to the missions of Thailand, where he served for six years. He is currently the Treasurer of the U.S. Region of PIME in Detroit. On December 16, 2018 he was installed as Pastor of San Francesco Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI. Every week he takes some time off from his parish ministry to do some administrative work at PIME headquarters in Detroit. Due to his increased workload at the parish while continuing as Treasurer of the U. S. Region of PIME and as counselor and spiritual director, he spends any time left doing a little woodworking.

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Written by Fr Dino Vanin
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