Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Sacred Heart Chapel
The other day, I was talking to someone about words and their meaning. We agreed that simply shifting a word or changing a phrase slightly can make a big difference to how we perceive the meaning. The example we were using was "poor people" or "people living in poverty." The latter way of phrasing makes me more aware of a person - it's my neighbor living in poverty, rather seeing "poor people" as a category, not persons. It's the same with medical conditions. People are not their condition (e.g. "diabetics"), they are people who live with that condition. I'm very aware that, if I see them first and foremost as people, I am more compassionate, more able to empathize.

Our conversation led me to think more about words and their impact. Years ago, when St. John Paul II was in the early years of his papacy and traveling around the world, I remember hearing him say in a television excerpt from one of the huge Masses he presided over, "Can it be that God, who has given us the power to say 'yes', should suddenly want to hear 'no?'" Two such small words, but they really made me think and they've stayed with me through the years. Our lives are full of questions and challenges; it's not just that we have to say "yes" once, we have to keep on doing it. I guess that's what's meant by perseverance - and it isn't easy. But, if I am serious about wanting to follow the Gospel call, I have to keep saying "yes" because why would God suddenly want to hear the opposite?

Karen Rose, OSB

No comments:

Post a Comment