“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” –Albert Schweitzer
Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Stephen, a deacon in the Church and the First Martyr. We read about Stephen in the Acts of the Apostles chapter 6-7. The role of the Deacon was that of service and in particular, care of the poor. In parts of the world it is known as “Boxing Day” a day dedicated to giving assistance to workers who assist you in your daily life. However, here in the US, today is the a day of sales and returns. What can we learn from our British neighbors and the First Martyr of the Church?
It has been said that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. During the transition of years, we often evaluate our life. For most people, helping and caring for others is something that we do right here at home, whether it’s spending more time with your family, developing relationships to make our work better, helping people in the community, or putting your desires on hold for the sake of your family and/or your team at work. The key is to find your purpose and help others while pursuing it.
We are constantly reminded in all of the major religious traditions that our life is a journey from something….to something. In the religious tradition of the Catholic Christian life is always a journey from individuality to community, from isolation to reconciliation, from sickness to healing. This journey from something….to something is a journey that causes us to look deeper at ourselves and at the community we live, work and have our being within. In the New Year, we tend to look back over the past year to see where we came from and make some projections about where we are going.
When we think about the life of Stephen and celebrate the meaning of this day how do anticipate the needs of others and give back to our communities, not just one day of the year, but every day.
-When we look back over the years from where we came, can we project where we are going?
-We all make our living in one way or another how do we see the work that we do as a true service to God and to one another? Do we give back to others while we are doing it?
-When we see where we are going can we say that we are making a life? Are we showing more compassion and helping others along the way?
May one day we all be able to look out not just on the Feast of St. Stephen, but on each and everyday and see our brothers and sisters in need and be able to respond to that need.