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February 11, 2020 Tuesday 03:18:13 PM IST

Draw the Circle of Our Family Larger


It was autumn evening and the whole countryside was ablaze with color. He had all his crops gathered and the barns were brimming over. His bank account was solid and it was more than anybody in the neighborhood could imagine. He had made his investments wisely and they brought him maximum returns on a regular basis. In short, he had nothing to worry about as he was also in good health.

As he was walking through his garden enjoying the evening breeze he noticed someone standing under a tree. He approached him and asked him who he was and why he was there. “I am an angel,” replied the stranger. “I have come to grant you a wish. But only one. Hence, you decide carefully what you want.” Taken aback by the unexpected offer of the angel, the man stood there speechless for a moment and murmured, “Let me think.”

“What do I need? What do I need?” The man asked himself. Remembering that he has a palatial home, thousands of acres of productive farmlands, large investments in stocks, bonds and mutual funds, and big bank accountshe didn’t want to ask for any financial benefits. Immediately he hit on an idea. “I would like to know how many people are thinking of me now?” He asked.

“Apart from God, just one person,” replied the angel. Then the man was curious to find out who that person was. “I gave you a chance to ask only one thing which you have done and I gave you the answer,” the angel replied. “So I cannot grant you another wish.” However, since the man pleaded with folded hands the angel said, “Apart from God the only person who is thinking about you right now is you yourself.” As soon as he said this he disappeared from sight.

As the angel reminded the man in our story, God is always thinking of us. But apart from God, how many people would be thinking of us this moment? It is not easy to know. Perhaps there could be several people thinking of us at this moment. Perhaps not even one. In that case we may be the only people thinking of us.

If other people are thinking of us now it doesn’t necessarily mean they are thinking of us because of our goodness. They could be thinking of us now because they want to hurt us since we somehow happened to become their enemies. But our constant desire is that people who love us should be thinking of us. If we are the kind of people who love others selflessly and do good for them on a consistent basis it is certain that occasionally they would be thinking of us. Moreover, they will always try to do their best in helping us in any way possible.

However, if we are selfish people like the man in our story, at any given time we will be the only people thinking of us with love and admiration. If that is the case it will be a terrible tragedy in our life. If apart from God we are the only people thinking of us, it means we live for ourselves alone. In other words, others have no place in our thoughts and deeds.

Many years ago while American radio commentator Roy Lloyd interviewed St. Mother Teresa he asked, “Mother, in your opinion what is the biggest problem in the world today?” Immediately Mother Teresa said, “The biggest problem in the world today is that we draw the circle of our family too small.” Then she told him how to solve this problem, “Every day we should continue to draw the circle of our familylarger and larger.”

How insightful is the observation of Mother Teresa! While talking about the biggest problem in the world she did not mention war, terrorism, poverty or killing of unborn children. Instead she only mentioned that the biggest problem in the world today is that we draw the circle of our family too small. Is it not because we draw the circle of our family too small that we have war, terrorism, poverty, killing of unborn children and many other evils in the world?

Yes, it is because we are always thinking of us alone and thus we draw the circle of our family too small that we divide people on the basis of race, religion and nationality, and fight among ourselves. Yes, if we ever exploit others and take undue advantage of them it is because of we always think of ourselves and draw the circle of our family too small.

We are the children of God and hence all of us are members of one human family. It is because we forget this reality that we choose to limit the circle of our family too small. And when we limit the circle of our family too small, how can we expect others to remember us and come to our rescue when we are in trouble? For St. Mother Teresa the whole world was her family. Hence, she could never limit the circle of her family. On the contrary, she enlarged the circle to include everyone in this world. When we succeed to do this there will be peace in our communities and in the world and apart from God more than one person will be thinking about us at any given moment.

Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, CMI

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