Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace

      A shepherd quietly tends to his sheep in the high mountains of Pakistan. A mother nursing her little newborn with sweetness of joy in her bosom right after delivery in the hospital of St. Louis. A dyslexic kid trying his best to convey his thoughts by learning as much as he possibly can in the neighbourhoods of Matang. An elderly man trimming away his gardenia plants in the cool evenings of hot summer in California. A stranger jog past an old beggar sleeping on a bench in the beautiful parks of Perth City and flashing her white teeth, gives him a huge bright smile. In the lovely apartment at the corner streets of Tokyo, a teacher is marking away tonnes of exam scripts with red ink splattered all over the papers till wee hours in the morning. Faraway in the remote Masai village,  a beautiful black sister is baking a cake for her beloved sibling who turns 21. On Monday mornings in the district of Serian, the garbage man walks by every terrace house and collect the rubbish and waste of hundreds of households.

      I can go on and on describing the stereotypical common routines of life. There is nothing extraordinary about the things that they do and even as I am typing away on my keyboard, billions of people around the world are quietly and passionately living their life as they should. Perhaps a minority lived radically like missionaries, monks and nuns but how many of us are actually given the luxury to be that different. How many of us can afford to shrug away our commitments to our families and communities? How many of us can be like Pope Francis? There is only one pope needed, perhaps one pastor needed for each church and etc. If everyone wants to be pope or a pastor or an official missionary, what would become of the world? Don't get me wrong. I am not belittling their calling. In fact, their life is exemplary but what I am exhorting to you and to myself..we are all made differently, with different roles and for different purposes. 

      Imagine life without your garbage collectors? Many of us do not even know who they are but quietly, they work to clean your life from the mess and dirt of wastes thrown from your houses. Do you remember the receptionists answering your calls of complains or would you recall the faces of air hostesses providing you comfort with meals and water to keep you hydrated on board that dreadful long-haul flight to Iceland? We probably only remember 1% of the people we encountered our whole lives but it does not mean they never contribute to making our lives better. Perhaps these souls are not heroic in saving your kitten from that fire or cured your migraines and fevers but they are here to serve.

      Do not belittle yourself and the role you are given. Do not think for one minute that your seemingly mediocre work is worthless and not worthy of praise. It might not seem much to you and people may never glorify you for it but it matters to God.Your works at office and at home done fervently matters so much to God. Continue to be faithful in that work that you do because God calls you to. 

Colossians 3:23-24 states 
 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving".

I am actually inspired to convey these messages to you after I read this wonderful book by Scott Hahn entitled 'Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace'.
I would like to leave you with a few excerpts from this life-inspiring book.

"...little things matter so much to us because they matter so much to God.....The smallest tasks can take on infinite value when we offer them to God, when we carry them out as works of God. Holy ambition strives for greatness even in little things, but it is content with the earthly results that God wills or permits. ....Holy ambition hopes for great things, but contends itself with whatever God wills. 
....St. Josemaria urged Christians: 'Do not lose that holy ambition of yours to lead the whole world to God, but...remember that you too have to be obedient and work away at that obscure job, which does not seem at all brilliant, for as long as God asks nothing else of you. He has His own times and paths.'....

....Reject any ambition for honors. Think instead about your duties, how to do them well, and the instruments you need to accomplish them. In this way, you will not hanker for position, and if one comes you will see it as it is: a burden to bear in the service of souls....sanctifying others through work. We offer our work as a sacrifice, for the sake of others and thus, in our daily struggles, we win graces for them in their struggles."

I want to end this with an advice from St. Josemaria, 

"May you sow peace and joy on all sides. May you not say a disturbing word to anyone. May you know how to walk arm in arm with those who do not think as you do. May you never mistreat anyone. May you be brothers to all and sowers of peace and joy."

The late Mother Teresa often quoted,

"  Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies....
Bloom where you are planted."

I hope both you and I can be 'little missionaries' to the people around us for they might never know one by showing our love and care in our daily tasks be it clearing dog's poop or quietly filling in inventories on the record books.

And so with much hope, God would be able to say to us,
"Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master." (Matthew 25:23)

God bless.

p/s: I strongly recommend 'Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace' written by Scott Hahn. Such profound truths and encouragement from such simplicity. I hope you'll grab a copy!

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