Fall, A Time of Change
The beginning of the school year is upon us. Families, children, teens, young adults and working adults are in full swing with a new fall schedule. Fall is a time when our lives become different with new changes in schedules and in the weather. It is a beautiful time of year where I live in Pennsylvania; it is also a time of reflection, of past school days and changes we have all undergone.
For me, fall brings me back to the challenges each school year has brought to my family as homeschoolers. It has been a blessing to be able to share the gift of education and time with my two daughters, one now in college and one in high school. I reflect on the successes, struggles, and changes I have overcome both as a homeschool parent and also in my younger life as a student. Change is one thing we can always count on as we walk with God.
Popularity and School Days
I believe the lessons we learn in our younger days are both book lessons and life lessons. I have tried to instill in my daughters the thought that education is an experience and a daily journey and not just an “A” on a report card. It is also not about being the most popular person in school. The experience of attending school teaches us about human relationships and dealing with the issue of popularity in school. For some dealing with this is even harder than the actual classes. The idea of competition, cliques and being left out of the group is not a pleasant thought. Many of us have experienced the feeling of not being part of a group we would wish to be accepted by. This is when we can turn to the Lord for guidance and help.
The Faith Journey and Acceptance
Acceptance by God is the most important thing when it comes to popularity. This is a lesson for our entire lives not just for the young. God loves us unconditionally, so we do not need to please Him in the ways of the world. We can turn to a verse in the Old Testament from the Book of Samuel that speaks of how God views our hearts:
When speaking to Samuel, “But the Lord said to Samuel,
“Do not consider his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7, NAB.
Humans tend to look at the outside but the Lord knows what’s on the inside. He wishes us to look at the hearts and the goodness of all. Being rejected is one of the most difficult things to go through. It is only with God’s grace we can move beyond the hurt. His grace helps us to continue loving. We need the Holy Spirit and patience with ourselves and others when it comes to overcoming rejection.
As Catholics, rejection may come from others not because of who we are but because we are followers of Christ. Christ’s message is still in opposition to the message of the world. We should expect, at some point, that we may feel a sense of being left out. The desire to fit in starts very young in our society. It follow us throughout life. Sadly, even within the Church, we see people who are glorified by others. This may be people such as priests, religious or prominent Church-goers who seem to be in charge and are put on a pedestal. In reality, we know that only God knows the human heart. It is false to put humans on a pedestal.
Year of Mercy and Peace
Our Holy Father Pope Francis offers wisdom about spreading peace. He has taught us many lessons in humility. He has made it a point in his pontificate to share the love of God with those he agrees with and those he does not agree with. He has been criticized by both sides and accused by some of the most devout people in the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis wishes to bring peace to our world by first extending his hand to all. He has not strayed away from the teachings of the faith. He is a man of peace and has brought us this beautiful “Year of Mercy” where we are encouraged to show the love of God to all, bringing them to Christ and to His Church. He made the following statement about peace in 2014.
“Peace is not something which can be bought or sold: peace is a gift to be sought patiently and to “crafted” through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives. The way of peace is strengthened…if we never forget that we have the same Father in heaven and that we are all his children made in his image and likeness.” -Homily, International Stadium, Amman, Jordan, May 24, 2014
Peace and Accepting Others
The Holy Father teaches us by his life that popularity is not important. Popularity and fame are worldly things that will pass. In 100 years from now, none of these things will matter. Love, sacrifice and our faith are the things that will last forever.
Take some time to ponder what is really important to God. Humility, love, family, sacrifice, time, virtue and sharing this with others is vital. Our Church has wonderful gifts to share with the world. At the end of this “Year of Mercy”, let us live in the present moment and let the love we live make a difference for all. For those who feel unpopular, left out and alone, let us be a sign of mercy to them. Acceptance by God is what lasts, not of the world.