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What outcome am I looking for?

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Just when I feel dejected and that things are falling apart, I meet a student or visit a school. These are truly moments of grace. These children are a stark contrast to the noise of the world.

Michael
Reardon

Very often in meetings or discussions, I will ask or be asked, "What outcome are you looking for?" -- a simple yet powerful question and one worthy of reflection.

With the country embroiled in an impeachment inquiry and our Church exploring the best way to bring Christ to the people of the Amazon, many pundits have opined. Unfortunately, most of the opinion I have read is not humbly and thoughtfully reflecting on what is right, and where the Spirit is guiding us. Instead, it is focused on moving an agenda forward. Is it our agenda or that of the Spirit?

Just when I feel dejected and that things are falling apart, I meet a student or visit a school. These are truly moments of grace. These children are a stark contrast to the noise of the world. These children are humble and innocent, unspoiled by their ego and desire for gain. No, these children see things as they are. They know there is a loving God who cares for them and made all people in his image and likeness. A powerful and yet very simple understanding of how things truly are when we break it all down.

As Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:3-4, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

It is when our own egos get in the way that we stop listening to the Spirit. When being right is more important than doing right, then we are no longer like children. We are no longer truly and simply trusting in the Lord. No, instead we have decided that our agenda, our approach is the right one. Is this what it means to let the Spirit guide us? Is this what it means to humble oneself like a child?

There are many challenges facing our Church, our country, and our world and yet I am full of hope. Hope that these students being formed in faith, will stay focused on the simple message of Christ to love one another as he loved us. That they will focus their lives and engagement in our Church, country, and world around the question about what is right and not what do I think is right. There is much to be optimistic about, and I am proud to serve Catholic schools as they shape these future leaders.

As the Amazon Synod concludes and the impeachment inquiry continues, let us all pray to be more like the students who inspire me. Let us pray for the leaders in our Church and world that they put personal agenda aside, focus on what is right, and not who is right.

Let us also remember that the example of the children is not just for our leaders. We, too, have an opportunity to slow down and think about what outcome we want in our conversations and actions. Do we seek a common good or do we seek to be right?

What role do we play in the discussion and are we treating the other as the children see that person or people -- as a person made in the image and likeness of God?

Are we seeking to understand in our conversations and discussions or are we seeking to be right?

In these polarizing times, let the children be an example to us, just as Christ used them as an example for us.

- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.



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