Friday, September 11, 2009

Unsung Heroes

By Deacon John DeGano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

Knowing who our heroes are says a lot about who we are as people. What our values are.

From childhood many of us grow up thinking that our parents are heroes. By our teen years, we have seen the cracks in their armor and have traded them in for comic book Super Heroes (as if regular heroes weren’t good enough) who may be daunted, but never fail in the end. Issue after issue they replay for us the same scenario: Super Hero minding own business. Bad guy tries to rule world. People in danger. Super Hero has to intercede and save the day. Receives (or doesn’t receive) accolades of a grateful people, nation or world.

It’s hard for a parent (or anyone else, for that matter) to measure up to fantasy.

Being human (and most parents are) there are bound to be flaws. Idiosyncrasies that drive others ‘a little nuts’ but lend flesh and character to a three-dimensional person (Mom, Dad, etc.) that the one-dimensional comic heroes do not possess (except in stark black and white hues).

We need to topple the pedestals we tend to put people on and spend a bit more time extolling the unsung heroes of our world who, day in and day out, provide for us the services that we take for granted.

The graphic designer/printer of the ‘green sheet’-type magazines when we’re looking to buy a used car or find a great deal at a yard sale. The guy at the car wash whose job it is to wipe down the water drops and spots after servicing so that we have a shiny car to drive to the store. Or the day laborer, whose plight (and harassment) we ignore, but who will be the first person we think to hire when we need a tree stump removed from our yard. The list is endless.

These are the ones whose praises we should sing, even if our voices are a bit off key.

The Gospel tells us that these are the ones who will inherit the earth… if we allow them jobs and housing and affordable health care to sustain them and their families. These are the ones who sit beside us in the pews and we don’t know (or get to know) their names.

Jesus must have known what he was doing when he gathered to himself the oddest bunch of misfits and losers in all of Galilee. Fishermen who were lousy at their jobs. Tax collectors who did their jobs too well. And everything in between. Pacifists, Middle-of-the-Roaders and Zealots.

And somehow they balanced each other out, challenged one another to become their best and managed, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be pretty good ‘fishers of men and women.’

So the next time you wonder how you can make a difference in your ministry, let me suggest that you look around and see if everyone looks and acts the same. If so, you may need to invite a few more unsung heroes into the mix. They might be catalysts for change that will bring joy and excitement back into your ministry life and the church.

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