Called to make the world a better place

By Brenda Hopf

Connecting Faith and Life

I was recently reminded of a time when our then-seven-year-old grandson was sick and missed a couple of days of school. On day two, feeling a bit better, he made a to-do list. His mom took a picture of the list and sent it to me. The list included playing with Legos, having a snack, playing with matchbox cars, eating lunch, watching a movie, and helping mommy fix dinner. Smiling as I reached the bottom of the list, I was taken aback by his last item.

This last item was much larger than the rest of the list. Inside the large box he had drawn was a stick person and a sun, with the words “make the world a better place.” It was quite humbling to be reminded by a seven-year-old that such an item should be part of a daily to-do list.

Isn’t this precisely why Jesus took on human flesh? He came into the world to make it a better place for all of us by teaching us how we are to live each day. Things got even better when Jesus gave his life on the cross to give us the gift of eternal salvation. He also gave the gift of His body and blood in the Eucharist to strengthen us and the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us. Jesus has given us everything we need to carry on the work He started, namely, to “make the world a better place” so that we can someday join Him in our eternal home in heaven.

I have a lot of to-do lists around my house — on notepads and sticky notes, some on the countertop, some on my desk, but never have I written myself a note to “make the world a better place.” Now, I am not saying we have to necessarily write that out on paper each day, but at the end of the day, whether we have a to-do list or not, if we are conscious of our baptismal promises as we go about our daily tasks, shouldn’t whatever words we say and actions we take that day reflect in some way an effort to make the world a better place? 

We are about to enter into the holy season of Lent. We will be encouraged to take a deep dive into our interior life by practicing the virtues of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. I wonder if it might be helpful to literally have a piece of paper with those three words on it, placed strategically to be seen throughout the day. Reflecting on these words we could recall our words and actions for the day. As the days of Lent progress, it would seem this daily reflection could help us all become increasingly conscious of our words and actions. Obviously, not everything will fall directly under prayer, fasting and almsgiving, in part because of our sinful nature, but simply reflecting on our words, actions and lack of action each day —“what I have done and what I have failed to do” — should be very telling.

If the challenge to make the world a better place seems daunting and you and I simply don’t believe we can do such a thing, let us remember the power of those gifts I mentioned that Jesus gave us to continue his work, in particular, the gift of the Eucharist, along with these words of encouragement from Jesus’ sermon on the mount: 

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:14-16).

May the holy season of Lent be a reminder that by virtue of our baptism, we are called each and every day, to do our part to “make the world a better place.”

Brenda Hopf is the RCIA Coordinator for Divine Mercy Parish.