Daily Reflection
August 25th, 2004
Eileen Wirth
Journalism Department
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When Meet the Press host, Tim Russert was a student at a Jesuit high school in Buffalo, NY, he and some pals called their tough Jebbie 'prefect of discipline' from a coffee shop at a major bus transfer location to say they were absent because a blizzard had stopped the buses. The prefect not only questioned their story but hopped on a bus to the transfer center, spotted the gang and hauled them off to school. Then he threw the book at them.

Russert remains grateful for the prefect’s tough love.  It laid the groundwork for Russert’s success by teaching him to be responsible, even when the demands seem harsh – much like today’s first reading.

“For we did not act in a disorderly way among you. Nor did we eat food received from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked so as not to burden any of you… In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.”

Taken out of the context of responsibility to community, the last sentence can be misused punitively. However, the key word is unwilling, not unable. God never demands more than people are able to deliver.  He does, however, demand that they contribute to the extent they are able.

It strikes me that there is a corollary demand on communities: to invite all willing members to contribute even when it is easier to pass over people in the name of misguided compassion.

My grandfather taught me an unforgettable lesson about this when he visited a saintly elderly man to solicit his donation to a major parish fund drive. It would have been easier for Grandpa to skip calling on Mr. Davenport since his donation would be so small. However Grandpa knew that Mr. Davenport would have been devastated to be left out. He accorded this poor but proudly willing gentleman the same respectful opportunity to contribute as any other responsible member of the community.

At times it isn’t enough just to contribute. We must extend that invitation to those who might be overlooked. That’s a “willing” contribution in itself that St. Paul would surely sanction.


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